Searching for a job at midlife and beyond can be demoralizing.  Yes, It’s hard to find a job, but that doesn’t mean you can’t.  Jeremy and Tiffany are two candidates with similar backgrounds and experience and have been unemployed about the same length of time. Who is operating above or below the line?

Two Vastly Different Approaches

Jeremy complained about his lack of being able to find a job.  He was neither clear on what he wanted, nor had he updated any of his career skills by investing in classes or additional learning.  In his view, the job hiring process, companies, his age, and anything or anyone else were at fault. In response to suggestions, he replied, “I’ll try. But it won’t work.” The negativity rolled off of him like a thick dark cloud, and it felt like anyone or anything else within a mile radius would be swallowed by it.  He was also not interested in being coached or having anyone else help him with his career search.

Tiffany was also searching for a job.  She had done her homework and was clear on who she was and what skills she had to offer. She knew what gave her meaning and purpose and what she was looking for in corporate culture.  This gap between jobs, Tiffany used to do volunteer work and update her skills with online classes.  She regularly networked with others in her field.  Yes, she also got discouraged but had the support of her coach and her network.  She took care of herself by exercising regularly and her willingness to ask for the help she needed. She also was willing to take responsibility for the outcome of her career search.

Whether or not you believe in the Law of Attraction or not, you have to admit you might be attracted more to one job candidate than the other. The way each candidate approached their career search was vastly different.  Who on would you rather have on your team? 

Would you rather work with someone who is operating from above or below the line?

Above or below the line?

Jeremy blamed others for his unemployment.  He was fearful of never having a job that was right for him or that paid enough.   The fear of never having a job or one that paid enough kept him awake at night. The energy he used to blame others and everything he could think of prevented him from focusing on what he could control.  This negative behavior is operating below the line and staying in victim mode on the drama triangle.  He remained a victim at the effect of what was happening around him. 

Tiffany chose to use her job search as an adventure.  She took time to explore what gave her meaning and purpose, and what she wanted both in the job description and the career culture.  The support of others, including her coach, kept her moving forward and pursuing a new career.  She spent her energy and her focus on self-care,  improving her skills, and connecting with others.  She was operating above the line from a place of feeling empowered and confident. Above the line behavior is empowered action, taking responsibility for yourself and the outcome.

I’ve exaggerated Jeremy and Tiffany to make it clear which is above and below the line behavior.  We generally fall above and below the line every day. Our challenge is to notice when we are operating below the line. Then we can learn and practice shifting into positive above the line behavior and actions. 

Do you operate primarily from above or below the line?

Now that you know there is a difference you have a choice.  In this moment are you operating above or below the line.

Below the Line

  • Blames others
  • Often angry or fearful
  • Feels like a victim
  • Need to right

Above the Line

  • Takes 100% responsibility
  • Openness to learning
  • Curiosity and wonder
  • Openness to connection

Awareness is the first step to change.  You cannot change what is beneath your awareness.  If you feel fearful, angry, blame others, or need to be right, you are operating below the line.  What is different is that now you know there is another way.  Get curious.  Wonder how your life could be different if you lived your life above the line.  

I had a period in my life when I operated primarily from below the line.  The problem was I was the last one to know.  I did not know there was another option.  I was angry and not very pleasant to be around.  Imagine a fish swimming in the water, unaware that there are beings that exist outside of the sea. The fish would not realize that being outside the water is even possible.  My below the line behavior to me was as natural as that fish swimming in water.  I know that if a change is possible for me, it is also possible for you


Amelia Barnes
Midlife Coach


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