Recently, a number of my clients have expressed anxiety about making a change in their career. Whilst acknowledging they aren’t feeling fulfilled or enjoying their current role, the fear of what might happen if they make a change is causing considerable angst.
And I get it – we all feel a little nervous before making a major life decision. That’s normal.
In fact, if they weren’t feeling a bit apprehensive, I’d be worried. As our feelings are a good indicator of what we value and what is important to us. So, when my clients share they are feeling worried or anxious about a change, it’s usually because the potential outcome is deeply important to them.
To realise this though, they need to shift their perspective. Which can be easier said than done when we are in the midst of emotions and caught up in worry.
Today I thought I’d share with you one of the best ways I’ve come across to help you shift your perspective, which I also use with my clients.
How many months do you have to live?
Yes. This question is a powerful perspective shifter!
Kristina Karlsson shares this concept in her book, Your Dream Life Starts Here. In it, she suggests we consider how old we are now, the age we are likely to live to, and then determine how many months that equates to.
Whilst this approach is quite similar to knowing your life’s purpose and living your ending now, it is different in a fundamental way. That approach is about looking back, and making sure you are living now in a way that is aligned with how you want to be remembered.
Conversely, this approach acts as a reminder of how much time you still have and that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams.
I have found myself using this perspective shifting approach with clients. Whilst at first some are a little alarmed when I say, “Let’s l talk about how many months you have to live”, once I have explained this life changing approach, all are excited and inspired by what they realise as a result.
How many months do I have to live?
To demonstrate and explain how this approach works, I’ll use myself as an example.
I’m in my early 40s. I can reasonably expect to live another 50 years given family genetics (a great grandmother lived to 97 and my grandfather is still alive, also aged 97). I’m also in good health. Therefore, barring any unforeseen major changes or issues, it is reasonable to assume I could have another 50 years of life ahead of me.
The next step is simple math. With 12 months per year, I simply multiply 50 by 12 to get 600. Meaning, there is a good chance I have another 600 months to live.
Now, your turn. I’ll wait whilst you do some quick sums…
For most of us, the number we arrive at will be a fairly large one.
Shift your perspective around career - an example
When we consider making significant changes in our career, we can feel it’s are too hard, or the timing is inconvenient. We look at development roles as taking too long now, even doing them might provide us with greater satisfaction later.
One of my clients, in her mid-30’s, was engaged in meaningful work but didn’t love it. It wasn’t her dream role, and it was limited in terms of career advancement and salary. Without someone retiring (which didn’t look likely for at least 15+ years), it was unlikely she would be able to progress her career. Yet she felt she should stick with it, as she’d already invested so much time, money and energy to get where she was. And as she said, “I don’t hate it”.
Together we explored what her dream role would be; one she would genuinely love, and be aligned with her values, skills and interests. And she was excited! However, once we identified it, all the usual fears and worries made themselves known.
Specifically, the biggest barrier was that retraining for the dream career would take 2 years or more. The financial cost she could justify, as the dream role would mean she had a lot more accountability, and earning potential. But the time commitment required was a major hurdle for her.
Using the months to live approach, we worked out she potentially had 720+ months of life ahead of her. With that in mind, using 24, or even 36, of those months to retrain seemed worthwhile, especially if she would then have the opportunity to spend the next 360 months (until retirement age) doing something she was truly passionate about.
Balance, self-care and perspective
Balance in our life looks and feels different for each of us. But often it includes a sense of spaciousness; space and time to read the book we had recommended to us, time for family holidays, and space to truly disconnect from work and email.
Considering how many months you have to live can assist with balance and self-care too.
Once again it’s about keeping things in perspective. Rather than working to a point of exhaustion and burnout, when we know we have hundreds of months left in our working lives, we can more easily and comfortably give ourselves the gift of time to relax, rest and reconnect with what is important to us. And ultimately, isn’t that what self-care is about?
Truly experiencing a sense of balance, and prioritising self-care feels far more possible when we acknowledge we potentially still have hundreds of months in our lives.
Perspective shifting in other areas of your life
When you consider all the months ahead of you, there is ample opportunity to shape and curate your life to be full of experiences that bring you joy. Whether that be pursuing items from your bucket list, or living life without regrets.
When we acknowledge we have between 600 and 750 more months to live, it’s a great motivator to actively make changes in our lives NOW to ensure we use those months to live a life we love.
Some questions for you
Consider these questions;
· How many months do you have left to live?
· And how do you want to spend them?
Take a few moments to contemplate the answers to both of these questions.
How does that feel?
If you find that the answer indicates a different future for yourself than the one you are currently living, get in touch! (Just click the big blue button below). I support people make changes in their career and life so they can be confident they are in a career they relish, living a life they love. And isn’t that how you’d like to spend your months?