Originally published by Judy Schoenberg on LinkedIn.
“I don’t want to turn 50 here.”
I left my role as a nonprofit executive five and a half years ago because of a nagging voice in my head when I was in my mid-40s.
I had started working at the organization just before I turned 30, and I was a different person at 44 than I was at 29. I’d had a successful 15-year run and made it to the top of the “ladder” in my department as Chief Research Executive. When my work was featured at the White House, I felt I had arrived. But on the days when I was really honest with myself -- I was unhappy.
I’d remained with this national nonprofit for a number of reasons. As a mission-driven leader and a builder, the organization afforded me many opportunities to apply my skills. When I became a mother, I was able to take two maternity leaves. And with my tenure, I was allowed a certain amount of flexibility.
But now that my kids were becoming more independent, I was ready for a new challenge.
Get this - for the first time in my career, I chose to make my own happiness the parameter for a decision as big as this. But why wasn’t I happy?
You won’t believe the one thing that was missing.
Toward the end, I would sit in my office and think about doing work that created more opportunities for love. What’s love got to do with work? I know it sounds woo-woo -- but stick with me.
When I thought about what was really driving me, I realized I wanted to create more occasions for love between people, for issues I cared about, and for human to human support -- so that people could bring their whole selves, not just their “office” selves -- to work.
My boss at the time thought I was crazy to leave without certainty of what was to come. She told me she wasn’t a risk-taker and I shouldn’t be one either. And she handed back my resignation letter.
I’ve never written about this until now.
Fast forward five and half years later and this week, I’m turning 50! Now I lead EvolveMe with my amazing co-founder, Linda Lautenberg. We support women in midlife career transition with the structure, tools, and community to be ready for their next professional chapter.
We’ve been there and we get it (Linda as a career returner and me as a pivoter). And now we’re paying it forward to other women feeling stuck and needing a change.
I didn’t want to turn 50 there. But I’m thrilled to be turning 50 HERE! And I’m just getting started…You can too.
Here are 5 reasons why I’m excited to be turning 50:
1) I’m compassionate to my younger self
I would tell my 25-year-old self to get over it and stop taking life so seriously. I was a type A student and put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed. Now I believe “perfect is the enemy of good” and I’ve learned to trust myself more.
2) I surround myself with kick-a-- women
The women in my life inspire me - especially those who have taken a leap and made a big professional or personal move to actualize who they are now. Women who have taken risks and bet on themselves, figuring it out as they go. They’re my friends and colleagues who want more meaning and new ways to share their gifts, and they won’t settle for less.
3) I charted my own career path
I wanted to create the program I was looking for when I was exploring a career transition. I felt that little existed to help support women moving into the next stage of their career while keeping their self-esteem in tact. Doing this work with other women at similar ages and stages is confidence-boosting. You mirror each others’ talents - and other women see things in you that you’re not ready to see for yourself.
4) I live my values...and that’s success
When I got real about my core values, things started shifting and success took on a new meaning -- outside of any title or role. Values are your north star. They give you parameters to assess opportunities and also shape your decision-making. My values led me to take the leap and leave my comfort zone. And grow!
5) I know how to cope with self-doubt
When self-doubt hits me, I think of all the women EvolveMe has helped with their career reinvention. And all the others who are counting on me. That keeps me going. Having a greater purpose can erase self-doubt quickly! Whenever I second-guess myself now, I think of examples of women who are role models for me. Or I go out to coffee with a girlfriend and share what I’m feeling -- and I feel less alone!
I don’t want you to feel alone as you head toward midlife either. We’re better together!
You’re not too old. It’s not too late. And 50 is the new 30 (that’s what one of my friends told me this week! I’ll take it.)
Join me and Linda Lautenberg in the EvolveMe community as a member. You’ll find a dynamic community of like-minded, talented women who will have your back professionally like no one else.
You can share your dreams with us--and we won’t call them crazy! Or hand you back your resignation letter :)
Learn more and sign up here: www.evolveme.work
We can’t wait to see you here!