After a half a lifetime of providing and doing for others, a lot of Silver Starters are ready to follow their heart. For some it’s about giving back, for others its turning a hobby into a business. But after half a lifetime of doing and providing, it can be hard to see what your passion truly is.
I had a conversation with a wonderful woman recently who spoke very passionately to me about what she’s been doing for the past 25 years and then said, “I wish I had a calling.” I told her I think she has one but just doesn’t call it that. I sympathize with this woman and everyone else who is not sure about where to place their engergies. It can be hard to see it if you’ve been in it a long time.
Likewise it can be hard to give up the labels you have been using for a long time. They can get in your way too and cloud what is beneath that.
So, how do you find your passion?
1) What comes naturally?
In my own journey from techie and UX consultant to SilverSTART co-founder, I realized that I had shifted my frame. While I am still a designer and digital strategist, that part of me didn’t disappear, a new conversation started to emerge. I found that people were coming to me for business advice. And that I enjoyed those conversations. And even in times when I was seeking input, I was able to very quickly identify ways for others to leverage their passions in a business. Someone recetly said to me that “you are so good at crytallizing a need and turning that into a business idea.” And so, for me, that’s one of the things that was coming naturally.
2) What do you think about A LOT
For most of us it’s there already, but sometimes we have problems connecting with it. Often out of fear. I’ve been there too. I was very fearful about starting SilverSTART. But I also find myself thinking a lot about Silver Starters. People who are on the fence about starting a business after lay off. Or others who are craving a change. I found myself having conversations with a wide range of friends and collegues about wanting a change. I found that like thinking about that problem and finding a way for people to find their potential and to live their passion.
You may experience this as rants. Do you find yourself saying “they should…” or “how come there isn’t…”?
3) Check into your fears
That inner voice sure is tense and anxious lately, aren’t they? I call her Hortense. She is really negative sometimes. And she wins more often than I would want to admit. I will hold back, maybe do something in a smaller way, maybe avoid chasing my dreams because she’s there in my head whispering. The thing is, we all have some version of that inner negative voice kicking around. If you didn’t, there is a serious problem.
The sly thing is that inner voice it that there is often a grain of turth about what that inner voice is telling you. How do you listen to a potential warning that is good to hear, without giving into that negative voice that doesn’t want you to take any chances?
Step 1 is naming the fear. So, for me, it was identifying that Hortense was telling me that I’m a fraud. That there was no way I could help people over 50 start businesses. That I don’t have an MBA so should just step aside and let others do this. I told her that she’s wrong about that. That I’ve been an entrepreneur for most of my career, that I was very successful at it, and that I have a phenomnal ability to filter the silence from the noise. (Hyperbole is definitely okay when speaking to your inner voice)
But there is a grain of truth in there. I certainly am not a lawyer or financial genius. And while I have been an entreprennuer of one kind or another for most of my career, what do I really know about someone who is leaving a 30 year long career in a corporate setting? That leads me to Step 2.
Step 2 is research. There is no substitute for it. Stop selling and start listening. No convincing. Find about 8 to 10 potenital customers from roughly the same grouping (e.g. You want to sell to large companies, speak to the kind of people you want to sell to at large companies. Think starts ups are also in the mix?The add an additonal 8 to 10 people there.) If you do that without selling or pitching, you will know if the thing you want to do is viable, how you can position it, and your nasty inner voice will get a lot quieter. I get that this is hard to do and harder with your inner voice telling you not to. But if you do it, you will move yourself along that road to success much sooner.
Not sure if you should take the plunge? Sign up for our workshop. We’ll walk you through the pros and cons of your idea, help you develop a custom research plan, guide you through doing the research, and work with you on where to start.