By Caroline Hall
Once we’ve attained mastery in our work–usually in our 40s or so–we can either settle for doing what we’re already good at or choose to take some risks, try something different. In her recent article on the eight keys to happiness, Barb Bradley Hagerty interviewed Howard Stevenson, a professor emeritus at Harvard Business School, who posited that the greatest source of unhappiness in work is risk aversion—which leads to stagnation, resentment, and regret.
Our continuing evolution as human beings hinges on our ability to lean into fear—or at least unfamiliarity—rather than into boredom. The key here is awareness. When does your life feel same old/same old—in a rut? And when does something feel challenging but worthwhile? Says Stevenson: “You need to ask yourself regularly ‘How will I use these glorious days left to me for the best purpose?’”
As Baby Boomers leave the world of work as we’ve known it, the next expression of our purpose likely will call for a redeployment of our skills or the acquisition of some new ones. What difference does it make if we’re no longer in the comfort zone of total mastery? A big difference, actually—and one for the better. Who cares if we’re not good at the new thing; being a beginner at something and then getting better at it—in service of something we care about a lot–is one of the best things we can do for our spirits, our brains, and our world.
In other words, fear is infinitely more interesting and engaging than boredom. Going forward, look for opportunities to scare yourself, thereby blasting out of familiar comfort zones. This process will light you up—and possibly set you on fire!
We’ll be exploring the value of scaring yourself, the joy of beginners’ mind, and so much more in Life Reinspired, a life reset lab for successful Baby Boomers contemplating a meaningful next chapter.
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