A funny thing happens when you hit midlife. You start getting less and less tolerant for - how can I say this - other people’s ‘nonsense’. Company politics, office gossip, favouritism, sitting in waste-of-time meetings, and sacrificing your life for a boss who doesn’t appreciate it, start to seem faintly ridiculous. And that’s just at work.
I used to be the person who, when the waiter asked me if I was enjoying my meal, would nod “Yes” and splutter “It’s delicious” - why do they always come over when you’ve just stuffed a whole head of lettuce in your mouth? - even if I’d just pulled a curly dark hair out of my side salad and placed it discreetly under my napkin.
Not now. I’ll dangle that item from my thumb and forefinger and say “I thought this was a vegan place”. OK, I’m not that bad, but when you blend a few high octane hormones, very little sleep, increasingly valuing your precious ‘me time’ and a boost in confidence that comes with age, you become a person who has less tolerance for stuff that doesn’t work for you.
In a survey I’m currently carrying out, half of midlife women say they want to leave corporate life and start their own business. So far (the survey is in its early days) the message seems to be that we don’t feel work is working for us anymore. We want more work-life balance. We don’t ‘fit’ in the corporate workplace any more. We’re fed up of the politics. We suspect there’s some age and sex discrimination going on, and we’re ready for a change.
More midlife women are opening business accounts than ever before, so you’re not alone if you think now is the time to quit the hamster wheel. But how do you know if you just want another job somewhere else or if you’re actually ready to embark on entrepreneurial life?
1. If the problem won’t be fixed by changing jobs: Deep down you probably know whether you’ve just got itchy feet for a new challenge in a new place or if you’re actually done with corporate life. You’re just not company-shaped anymore.
2. If you’ve got a great business idea: If you’ve already worked out how to make money doing something else and the numbers stack up, there’s no going back. Do you think you’ll be happy to put that idea on hold until it’s too late to do it anyway? Unlikely.
3. If you’re relatively risk tolerant: Being able to leverage your assets, having money in savings, having fewer financial responsibilities or knowing you’d be able to get another job if you needed to, gives midlife women more freedom than they had earlier in their careers to take some chances. What’s the worst that could happen?
4. If you’re ready to test your mettle: Working for someone else is challenging for sure. But working for yourself, being the author of your own life, knowing that you only get paid if you bring in the cash yourself, is exhilarating. Beyond that, when you run your own venture, you learn what you’re made of. If you’re looking to be stretched and you feel ‘This is my time!’ you’re ready to take the leap.
Knowing you want to leave corporate life and actually leaving aren’t the same thing. I’ve created a checklist that outlines everything you need to do to get ready to hand in your notice with confidence that you have a good chance of success. No one wants to go crawling back to their old employer 6 months after dramatically announcing they’re leaving the rat race for good because they hadn’t thought things through. It’s free and you can download it here!
But above all, remember this, as we mature we increasingly want to give back. We want to pass on our knowledge and wisdom. We want to enable others. And we want to do work with meaning. If the best way you can do that is outside of the corporate world, you owe it to yourself and to the people who want to know what you know, to share it. What’s stopping you?
Blaire Palmer is founder of A Brilliant Gamble, which runs courses for people who want to make big changes in their lives, do work they love for a living and have a lifestyle that really works for them. Check out her podcast and join her Corporate Escapees Facebook Group
- Download the free Escape the Rat Race Checklist
- And if you’d like to complete the survey in to midlife experiences and expectations of work, I’d love that!