A Job’s a Good Idea under 40?

Craig Nathanson, The Vocational Coach, doesn’t mince words when he’s talking to people about the world of work. His key message is that life’s too short to be spent doing work you loathe.

Now, I bet you’ve probably heard that do what you love mantra before and maybe even dismissed it as impractical idealism.

I can understand that.

Craig’s approach is somewhat different. He recognizes that most people need to pay the rent and put food on the table, and that earning a living is therefore a very necessary survival skill.

But, somewhere around the age of 40, a surprising number of people begin to question what it is they’re doing with their time and energy.

(There is also anecdotal evidence that increasing numbers of people in their 20s and 30s are reporting similar experiences, which is probably a good thing, since it’s often not too late to take remedial action.)

In a way, they’re the fortunate ones, since the exercise is begun voluntarily.

However, for others, change comes about via uninvited crisis with a layoff, divorce or illness being some of the better known examples. These catalysts are not usually pleasant or wished-for change agents, but they occur nonetheless.

What I think is so valuable about Craig’s work is that not only is he a vocational coach who’s done doctoral-level research on this subject, but he’s also experienced career change, as well as the trials and tribulations that come with personal crisis, such as health issues.

So we’re really very lucky to have his wisdom and perspective to learn from.

I also admire Craig because he knows that finding work you love can take much time and effort, especially when you’ve invested twenty or more years in a career path that no longer appears to fulfill you.

Like all good coaches, he doesn’t sugarcoat reality but encourages you to take stock of where you are now, and compare that with where you want to be in an ideal future.

Not surprisingly, this requires sustained e-f-f-o-r-t and that’s possibly why many people put the process off indefinitely, or until unexpected change comes calling.

And even after you start out to change things, the results are rarely fairytale perfect. (There’s no human-created law that says anyone deserves to have interesting and well-paid work.)

But you’ll only know what’s possible by making a start. If you’re in paid employment you can still begin this process and keep the day job.

How and Where to Begin?

Well, there are lots of resources out there. I can recommend two examples of Craig’s work that I have personal experience of:

Discover and Live Your Passion 365 Days a Year Ebook by Craig Nathanson (2020-05 update: links appears to be down.) This is a 58 page ebook I bought a few years ago and found very helpful for self-reflection on my career path and goals.

Don’t Just Retire & Die This is a video recording of a talk Craig gave at Grace Cathedral. Check the site rather than Craig’s site because you can download the video and audio separately. Just register for free at and then download whatever interests you. The video was about 195 Megabytes and the audio, 31 Megabytes.