Alumni Spotlight Article

Finding Your Future Self

By alumna Jude Olson, PhD, ACC

The wonderful gift of mid-life is perspective. It is a mid-point where one can look behind to view the past and look ahead to see the future. Our careers have been built on education and experience, hard-earned lessons learned and life turns—both planned and unexpected.

Jude Olson, PhD

Jude Olson, PhD

We have put in long hours, weathered performance feedback, played politics and endured endless training sessions to upgrade our skills. We’ve climbed from intern to manager to leader to senior fellow to CEO, up through salary ranges and levels to build our resumes.  When we reach that career summit– we can rest, or pause at the very least—to have a wider view of the world. We may have unique, first time choices before us. We may no longer be driven primarily by high salaries, titles or company positions. We may have fewer obligations with new freedoms. We have career portfolios which are broad and varied, brimming with both can-do’s—and want-to’s.

The wonderful gift of mid-life is possibilities. When we look forward to the future, we may want a different landscape—more flexible schedules, temporary work, more time to combine hobbies and work and family with travel. We may want to see Europe or China or Africa—or tour the National Parks. New landscape could translate into ‘bridge retirement’ or ‘phased retirement’. We may want to work in home offices or just fly first class to the offices of others. We may want to invent and write alone or collaborate and celebrate with others. We may have skills that we never want to use again. We may want to leverage an old skill in new arenas. We may want to learn something entirely new. A discovery process unfolds—“What am I curious about?” “Where could I be next?” “What contributions could I make?” “How could I increase my market value? “What companies are doing exciting work?”  “How can I use my PhD to be the ideal job candidate at 32 or 62?”

The wonderful gift of mid-life is passion. With enhanced awareness about our strengths and spirit (our ‘Best Selves’), we are better able to target our ‘right fit’ and unique career niche. It offers a renewed enthusiasm—we can ‘come to our work like warriors—nothing will bore yer!’ as Cris Williamson sings in “The Song of the Soul.” We might see opportunities beyond climbing the corporate ladder. We may have long ago dreams to reclaim or talents to recover. We may want to make a difference in the world through volunteer work or lead a startup one last time. Legacy leads us and inspiration guides us. Perhaps a ‘silver career’ or semi-retirement stretches before us. We see our next adventures on the horizon ahead…with longevity, health, wealth and grit to sustain us. Mid-life career transition is a catalyst opportunity—bringing fear and anxiety, confusion and clarity, wonder and delight!   It’s the perfect time to find and be your Future Self…


Jude is an accredited, experienced executive coach who works with leaders to build on their strengths.  A special focus is helping adults who are navigating mid-life reinvention. For more information about Dr. Olson, please visit: http://judeolsoncoaching.com/  or contact her at: jude@judeolsoncoaching.com