A prospective client named Mike, called for career help saying, “My business is failing. After 35 years of success as a podiatrist, the last two have been in the red. I’m looking at closing my business down. It’s so embarrassing. I can’t believe I’m a failure now at age 62. The industry has changed and I’m drowning now and no longer able to make a 6-figure income in healthcare like I have most of my life. I feel like a complete failure.”
I hear these stories and you have to have empathy for the person in dire straits who feels like they have no career left and no future. Are you able to get yourself and your career turned around when life brings you down? Life circumstances such as losing your job, or in Mike’s case, losing your business, can derail many Baby Boomers. We can get stuck with a negative mindset and just can’t pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and push our career forward.
Joe Roberts says that no one was lower in life than he was. When his dad died at age nine leaving the family in poverty he started taking drugs. His mother remarried and his stepfather was terribly abusive so Joe left home at age 15. His days with no job or money led him to become a homeless, heroin addict, living on the streets of Vancouver Canada, sleeping under a viaduct, grabbing a meal from the Salvation Army. He was walking the Vancouver streets often seen pushing a shopping cart and collecting cans and bottles to support his drug dependency.
At age 21, after Roberts attempted suicide, he entered an Alcohol and Drug Intensive Treatment Program. Roberts turned his life around. He went on to college graduating at the top of his class. Choosing sales as a career, and eventually became the CEO of his own multi-million dollar technology company.
When you ask Roberts how a homeless addict could possibly become such a business success, he says, “I wasn’t successful in spite of living on the streets; I became successful because I lived on the streets.” He made his first million before he was 35, all the time knowing he was one drink away from tumbling back into the abyss of addiction.
Roberts,52, became known as the Skidrow CEO. He sold his company and decided he needed to do something noteworthy to bring attention to the homeless youth problem in Canada. In 2016, Roberts walked across Canada, 9048 Km (6, 000 miles) pushing a shopping cart all the way to bring attention to the youth homeless situation. This act generated a national awareness campaign called The Push for Change.
Meeting Roberts today you would never know about his struggles if he didn’t share them with you. Now a motivational speaker and author, he brings a message to people about resiliency and change. “The older we get,” says Joe, “the easier it can be to buy into the negative talk we feed ourselves. We no longer see the bright promising future we Baby Boomers once had. We stop taking the steps needed to positively change our lives and often give in to depressed or discouraged thinking. We can get stuck in a down-spiraling mindset saying, I’ll never get another job, or my life is over when it most definitely is not.”
Change is not always easy. Roberts says that he tells audiences his turnaround centered over his concern of wanting another drink. Staying sober became his goal. For 30 days. Then 60. Then six months. Then staying sober and doing something more than that began to matter. “Life is a series of choices and action steps,” he said.
If you are facing a job loss, a business derailment, a divorce, or any other major life challenge Roberts offers some solid techniques for turning your career and life around. He talks about The Air Model method he teaches in his workshop programs.
Created by his partner, psychologist Dr. Sean Richardson, The AIR Model Process is a method to help change your negative thinking and improve your performance. It can help Baby Boomers be able to reignite their own career. Very briefly, the process includes this simple acronym:
- Results = what I want (short and long term)
- I = why I want that (inspiration, purpose, possibility, motivation)
- A = how I get that (action and accountability)
- R = what is going to stop me from getting that? (roadblocks – personal and situational
“You don’t feel your way into good behavior – you behave your way into a good feeling,” explains Roberts. He offered some implementable tips on how you can turn things around and change your life and make your career happy and prosperous again.
1. Evaluate where you are at, assess the situation, get perspective and look at what you have to work with. There is more to you than you can see and you do have the strength to change your life.
2. Choose a goal – create a compelling goal that inspires you, one you can mentally visualize attaining. The more detail you can give this goal the better chance you will achieve it. Think of this as building your possibility mindset.
3. List the actions you can take beginning today. You don’t have to reach your goal today but you can get up and do one small task today. One small action will lead to another and is the start of finding your way out of your current dilemma.
4. Write down your roadblocks that may get in your way. Part of the road to change is to expect and acknowledge there will be setbacks. There are two kinds of roadblocks, Internal (mental/psychological) and External (job market) to overcome.
5. Connect your goal to a deeper reason or resonating purpose. The more inspired you can become when you think about achieving that goal the easier it will be for you to get and stay in action. Your reason why you are doing what you are doing, i.e. need to feed my family, want a new home, need a new car, that need is your driving force to wake you up in the morning and motivate you to do the actions needed.
6. Fully commit yourself to see this through no matter what roadblocks you face. You have an inner power that comes with perseverance and determination.
7. Don’t go it alone – get a coach, a mentor or a friend to share the ups and downs. This person needs to support you as a person but challenge your behaviors and be a resource to offer you ideas different from your own. He or she must also be committed to helping you achieve your goal.
Roberts concludes by saying that there was nothing special about him and his rise from homelessness to millionaire CEO. The desire to change and then taking actions made the difference. “If I, a heroin, homeless, drug addict, can turn myself around any Baby Boomer can take their circumstances and find a way out to a happier existence and a more prosperous career.”