There are many careers that have a limited shelf life. In other words, you can stay in these fields for a certain number of years before age and attitude may force you to look for other options. You kind of reach your expiration date. I think it’s safe to say working on yachts falls into this category.
It’s not quite like a professional athlete’s career where physical skills can start to decline in your thirties and you can’t catch up to the fastball anymore. Yachting careers may be closer to Hollywood, where as you get older, it gets harder to land those parts you used to play. Opportunities seem to start shrinking. It might be getting time for a new role in life. This is all not age related. I mentioned attitude as well. You may just get tired of the lifestyle or have something else you feel called to. That can happen at any age. The point is, you are most likely not going from working on a yacht to retirement. There is going to be a next chapter.
Yes, there could be exceptions to this. Let’s face it, captains have the longevity in this industry and if they have had some good paying gigs and were smart with their money, after 25 or 30 years some could possibly “retire.” But you still will be looking at a next chapter because you’re probably only in your late 50s or early 60s. In case you haven’t noticed, that old model of retirement at 65 isn’t really happening anymore. That ship has sailed over the horizon.
One of the things I love about being a coach is that I get to work with folks from the yachting industry and all walks of life as they navigate transitions and reinvention. Change is inevitable in life and changing careers is more common than ever.
Here are two of the stages where a shift can occur; first in your 20s or 30s, also known as first adulthood. And second in your 40s or 50s, second adulthood.
In a first adulthood shift, the three most common causes seem to be, disillusionment – the work and/or the lifestyle isn’t what one thought it would be. Pressure from outside influences, like family convinces you it’s time for a “real job”. Relationship issues like stability and the desire to nest, are becoming more important. Of the three, the one I caution folks on is the pressure from outside sources. If this pressure sounds familiar and you still love what you do, be careful. Be strong and clear on the inside and follow that. Regret is a powerful negative energy. Make sure you are changing your life for the right reasons, from the inside.
With a second adulthood shift some different factors can be at work. One is loss of passion for the work, burnout, or the enjoyment is gone. This is connected to the second factor and that is the desire or a call to do something more meaningful in the second half of adulthood. The loss of passion or feelings of burnout are cues, signals to you, that the time is upon you. The time to grow, expand, maybe challenge yourself with newness, is calling. It is said we don’t really choose this new calling, it chooses us.
Understand that all the research and study of human development shows this shift to be perfectly normal and healthy. I coach people through this period because I have lived it myself and what I can tell you is it can be one of the most enlightening, transformational and sometimes scary periods of your life. It’s important to bring awareness to the shift. Understand the stage you are entering and stay open to possibilities and enjoy the process. Always keeping in mind it’s the journey and enjoying it that matters.
So what’s next? Now what? Will you be able to answer those questions when they come your way? They will show up sooner or later. If you’re in the sooner group, you may want to work on getting clear on the person you want to become, sharpen your awareness of the situation and then trust the process. It will require some patience and a balance of precision and experimentation. If it’s unclear or feels overwhelming, consider working with a coach to guide you along the way.
If your changes seem way down the road, understand they are coming. Enjoy where you are now. Enjoy your process of becoming. And always remember, getting to be truly yourself will make you happier than any dream job, dream mate, or dream house that requires you being someone other than your true self.
Rob Gannon is a 25-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach (yachtcrewcoach.com). Comments on this column are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.