How to Fulfill Your Second Half Career Dream

Last Updated Dec 3, 2010 11:40 AM EST

Fulfill Your Career DreamsAbout ten years ago I was having lunch with a long-time business friend. It was a sunny day in the Bay Area so we sat outside on the patio. I happen to think that el fresco dining - or working outside in general, for that matter - leads to inspired thinking, but that's just me.

Anyway, I somehow got to spilling some of my crazy ideas of what to do next. You know, what to do after getting fed up, fired, or otherwise burned out at the company I was with at the time. My friend just smiled and said, "Oh, you mean your second half plan."

"What do you mean, second half plan?" I asked, puzzled.

"You know, you work for 20 or 25 years in the same industry, pretty much doing the same sort of thing, and if you're lucky enough to be reasonably successful at it, you get to try a different game plan in the second half," he said. "Maybe something you're more passionate about."

It sounded so obvious coming out of his mouth, I wondered why I hadn't thought of that analogy myself. My friend hit the nail on the head. For as far back as I could remember, I'd been planning, plotting, dreaming, and fantasizing about my second half plan. I just didn't know what to call it.

So, now that I'm deep into the second half, I can look back and see four factors that not only made it possible, but also made it important for me to do it. So, if there's something you've always wanted to do and it's not what you do for a living, you've got to check out:

How to Fulfill Your Second Half Career Dream

A goal and a plan. Yogi Berra famously said, "If you don't know where you're going, you may not get there." Let me put it this way. If you don't have goals and at least some semblance of a plan, you'll never get there. For one thing, you'll be leaving things more or less to hope or chance, and you'll need better odds than that. Then there's your own inertia - tough to stop without a damn good reason.

The entrepreneurial lure. Sure, I was proud of my career and the management level I'd achieved, but I had always worked in somebody else's company, a corporation with a CEO, a board of directors, tons of employees, and a boatload of shareholders. I wanted to plot my own course at my own company. I wanted to be an entrepreneur.

The need to test yourself. Even though I played a key role in the companies where I worked, including taking risks and achieving great rewards, I was still part of an executive team and there were so many success factors that accomplishments were really company or team accomplishments. I wanted it to be me, just me, taking on a new profession. I wanted to test my mettle on my own without a big corporate safety net.

A dream. Although I loved high-tech and marketing, I actually had a dream that started decades before that career even began. Since I was a little boy I'd loved reading books, so much that I romanticized the profession. And now that I had something to say and a voice with which to say it, I wanted to put pen to paper and fulfill that dream.

Of course, some people want to go right from working to retirement. Sure, I could have milked the high-tech marketing gig and then retired, but then I'd forever wonder what could have been. So that wasn't for me. I opted for the second half, instead.

Incidentally, thanks for being part of my second half plan. If you've got one of your own, maybe someday I can return the favor.