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Ask Ellie: Work on yourself and the rest will follow

New ways to consider jobs and career-building have similar approaches to your relationship and personality needs

Dear Readers: If, in your late-30s, you feel deeply compelled to leave your marriage, or quit your steady, well-paying job, or backpack in remote places for months, recognize that it’s coming from your relationship with yourself.

One person who gets that connection quicker than most, surprised me by saying “that’s about personal transformation.” Right on.

He’s Eyal Danon, whom I recently interviewed about his latest book. It’s a cross between a businessman’s guide for success and a life-coach’s formula for self-fulfillment. (That explains the link to relationship issues).

Those personal leaps to courageous life changes, he says, is “someone realizing it’s time to buckle in regarding becoming the best version of yourself.”

Danon, currently the CEO and author of The Principle of 18: Getting the Most Out of Every Stage in Your Life is both a Columbia University-trained life coach and a successful entrepreneur.

His book offers a new long-range perspective to career-building, based on his conviction that most young people start pouring their energy into work and trying to get ahead far too early.

Instead, his formula urges young adults from age 18 to explore ideas for their future, but wait until age 36 to decide what they really want to do.

Through five such stages, age 90 becomes a hopeful lifespan: “Young Dreamers” under 18 follow their imagination to see where it goes; “Explorers” focus on a quest for the area they’re most passionate about; “Builders” work intently on that chosen area; “Mentors” encourage and help younger people; and “Givers” in retirement ages dedicate themselves to a meaningful cause.

I asked what the most meaningful impact of his own life was, under age 18: Israeli-born, his father had been wounded and severely disabled in 1969. The son feared his father would die. “I learned that we have to make sure that the life we’re going to live is worth living.”

After compulsory military service at 21, he moved to America, studied hospitality management and was hired by InterContinental Hotels and Resorts. Over the years he’s been life coach to many of the executives who also wanted personal and relationship advice.

But as he reached age 30, he convinced himself and his girlfriend to leave it all and backpack for 18 months to remote places in India, Nepal, Thailand and more.

It was an explorer stage, despite that his mother had warned against it, saying, “Look at your friends. They are moving ahead in the world. And you are throwing it all away!” He’s published a memoir about the trip, Before the Kids and Mortgage.

On his return, he immersed himself in “building” his profile with three books published so far. And ever since, he’s immersed himself in the “building” work that currently defines his career.

At 36, he became vice-president of marketing for a publicly-traded technology company. Danon says of that “builder” period, “Work to exhaust your potential, take risks in what you’re working towards, and don’t obsess.”

Currently based in New Jersey with his wife and three children, now ages 22, 20 and 15, he’s constantly expanding his profile. Yet he still maintains the relationship he insisted on having with himself: “Minimize your regrets, decrease your worries, and live a happier more meaningful life.”

The take-away message here is that the work we do within a day-to-day life or career path is very much affected by the relationship work we do intentionally, and by choosing what we need and how we attain it within the lives we lead.

Dear Ellie: My friend of 10 years makes me angry. No matter what I say about something, she knows it already and has an opinion. If I speak of a personal experience, she’ll say she experienced it too, even regarding significant life experiences. Another close friend said that people act like this because they’re jealous of others. Why me? I’m not special.

But I know before I mention something that she’ll have an opinion. Why do people behave this way? It makes me wary of her friendship. Should I laugh it off or just not be surprised?

Fed Up

We all need friends. But those who are repeatedly irritating require a re-think about why you’re still friends. Does she have any likeable features — fun-loving, supportive? If these don’t apply, try gently lessening contact. But be prepared to answer her if she asks what’s going on. No need to be unkind.

Ellie’s tip of the day

New ways to consider jobs and career-building have similar approaches to your relationship and personality needs.

Send relationship questions to [email protected].