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Posted: July 23, 2013

The mid-life career crisis

Are millions and perks all there is?

Michael Schmidlen

Transitions are the point(s) that we come to in our lives when we must decide whether to continue on the same path or change our course and direction, sometimes in a new and scary way. When the pain of maintaining the status quo in your life exceeds the pleasure of whatever reward you receive from continuing on your current path, these changes are much easier to make.  I am facing just such a transition in my personal and professional life right now and have been for a number of years.

In October 2009, I attended my good friend John Assaraf’s “Live Mastermind Session” for his “Having It All” Program in San Diego, where I met a couple of guys who have since become my good friends. All three of us were at a personal and professional crossroads at the time, which is likely why we bonded.

In the years since, only one of us has actually done anything about it (it isn't me – yet), and because he’s made a decision and taken focused and determined action, his outcome and current circumstance have substantially improved. He’s doing what he wants to do and is thoroughly enjoying himself again.  If I weren’t so stubborn and pigheaded, his success should have provided both inspiration and motivation to me.  But it hasn’t (yet).

Instead of having a stereotypical mid-life crisis, where I get a divorce, a comb-over and a red sports car to go with my much younger girlfriend, I’m having my own version: a mid-life career crisis.

It started a number of years ago when I got to the point where I no longer enjoyed the business that I’d spent more than 15 years building: a successful home-based, multimillion-dollar international venture.  It was a very profitable business, and I thought at the time that I “enjoyed” the perks of all of my hard work.

I truly came to the realization that while the perks were nice, I didn’t get the satisfaction that I expected and was left wondering: “Is this ALL there is to success?”  I’m still trying to find my answer.

One of the stumbling blocks to that answer has been the seemingly never-ending supply of shiny objects (which I covered in an earlier column) and my lack of laser focus on getting proficient at any of them.  Like I’ve said in the past, my toolbox is full; I’m just not that good with any of them – yet

That is the lesson I have taken away from my friend, who took focused and determined action to get to a place that he only talked and dreamed about a mere 14 months ago.  He took the proverbial leap off the cliff and stayed laser focused on his goals, and now new doors are opening daily for him.

I’m now using his recent success as my barometer to use to not only catch up to him but to surpass him. I’m making it a game of sorts and focusing my attention on what it is I want to accomplish and WHY I want it (so I don’t find myself at that same crossroads again in the near future) and then taking massive action to ensure that I get there.

I don’t know for sure when I will get through what Seth Godin calls the dip – the uncomfortable part of the journey when most people quit or give up but I do know that if I stay focused and determined, I will leave “the dip” far behind and quickly join my friend on the other side.

I’ll keep you posted as I continue on this journey.

Michael Schmidlen is a serial entrepreneur who has successfully run his multi-million dollar home-based business for 20 years. Michael is working on his first book, “Memoirs of THE Underwear Entrepreneur," where he shares his many business experiences and unique stories. The book is designed to be a blueprint for other small business owners, would-be entrepreneurs and startups to beat the overwhelming odds to create a successful, thriving small business model.

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Ottis- Unfortunately it's difficult to elaborate too much in this environment because of size constraints (not because I didn't want to). A quick answer is that I NO longer got satisfaction from what I was doing & who I was doing it with. NO guarantees that I won't find myself in the same or similar position in the future, but hopefully I've learned from my experiences! Still involved in businesses (plural) but NOT the same business, hence the challenge of using and mastering the many new tools that I've acquired since I started my last business over 20 years ago. THANK YOU for commenting & sorry it wasn't clearer... By Michael E Schmidlen on 2013 07 29
I don't understand this column without specifics. Why did you find yourself dissatisfied with the business you built? What types of new activities now motivate you - are they still business, or charitable work, or education, ...? Why the change? How do you know that in 10 years (or less) you won't be bored with the new activity? Not sure how having more tools but not being good at any of them ties into this. As a 50ish guy with a long career and occasional days where I feel unmotivated now, I'm interested. I'm just not sure what you mean. Thanks! By Ottis on 2013 07 23
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