Dear Dr Toni,
I’ve been in the advertising business for more than twenty years, longer than any sane person ever stays. I’m in my late fifties and want a change. I feel like there’s a part of me that’s like a teenager: wanting to break free and not be responsible for anyone. Unfortunately, I have a partner who only brings in about 30 percent of the income it takes to cover our lifestyle and my parents require some supplementation as well.
I’ve been drinking a little too much sake at the end of the day, and look forward to that as well, which are red flags for me. Recently, a young woman has come into my life as a mentee. We met at a workshop. Although she’s in her mid-twenties, she’s more like a teenager because she became a star as she was entering her teens. I have no interest in her sexually, but she’s proposed that I be a kind of advisor to her when she goes on location to Italy in a few months. She didn’t have a great relationship with her father and is looking for someone to replace him in a way. The shoot could go on for several months and my partner is totally okay with it.
I feel tempted to quit my job and take this break. I’ll be well compensated, but I just don’t know what will be next when I return. It’s not that easy to get hired in the ad business at my age. I just know that I need a change and could use some advice from an advice guru!
What say you, doc?
– Bored and Bewildered in LA
You pose an interesting dilemma. Stay where you are, keep drinking, and maybe even start drinking more . . . or take a risk and allow yourself to discover who you might be on the other side of this adventure in Italy. Is it also possible for you to manage your work from afar, given the technology we have now? I imagine if you have been in this business for over twenty years you have a senior position in the company. If you are valuable to them—before you sabotage your job and start drinking your lunch—perhaps you can propose some kind of sabbatical?
My sense is that your soul is calling you to change things up. Take some time every day and ask your inner teenager what he wants today. Then provide him with something other than alcohol that is fun and/or creative to do. Allow the joy to return! Go to your iTunes account or YouTube and see what music he would like to listen to and take some time out to dance, if that pulls him. Going to Italy sounds quite wonderful, but you can bring more adventure to your life right now. Do you have some habits that need upgrading? For example, would the teenager like to take up bike riding instead of going to the gym? Have you been doing the same exercise routine for years, eaten the same breakfast, etc.?
Spring is coming. Use “Spring fever” to enliven your life a little. This young woman coming into your life now may be quite synchronistic—perhaps you are here to learn from her as well as be a mentor. If she has a young spirit, let her energy help you to remember your own youthful inclinations.
I would urge you to take some kind of action now before you start making errors at work that subconsciously clear the way for a passage to Italia! Let your inner teenager open you to a new chapter in your Act 3 stage of life, but you must spend quiet time to access what that part of you really, truly wants. Do one simple thing every day to “feed” your inner teenager’s soul.
Let me know what you decide. I am very curious as to how this works out.
Toni Galardi, PhD, is a licensed psychotherapist and transitions expert in Marin County, California. She works with people by phone and Skype all over the world. She is also the author of The LifeQuake Phenomenon: How to Thrive in Times of Personal and Global Upheaval. She can be reached through her email address email@example.com or at her office at 310-890-6832.