A Midlife Pivot

Making the decision to step away from my corporate career surprised many in my circle.

by Banu Hatfield, Zion Coffee Co
Banu Hatfield
Portrait by Christie Newell

Somewhere along the way, I made a decision that playing life safe was just not for me. In a society where busyness and stress have become status symbols, making the decision to step away from my successful corporate career surprised many in my circle. For me, it was simply a midlife pivot. 

My Story
Growing up in Turkey, a daughter of industrious and well-educated parents, the core values of being kind and working hard were instilled in me from a very young age. Like most parents, mine invested in my education, expected me to make it a priority and guided me to get a job after college. Now in my late 40s, my story seems not all that different from many of my friends and colleagues.

We spend the first half of our lives largely concerned with surviving successfully: get the right education, choose the best career, marry the right person, have children, build the dream house and “get settled.” We spend the first half of our lives seeking and establishing an identity. As we get older, we’re expected to have found our groove and to stay in it—until one day we retire or die, whichever comes first. 

As I entered my midlife years, I realized it was no longer enough for me to find meaning in being successful; I need a deeper source of purpose. Now more than ever, I am in tune with my abilities and my passions. I want to deepen my most valuable relationships, reclaim my untended creative talents, and shift my focus from personal ambition to meaningful legacy. 

In order to make this midlife pivot, I had to make some choices. In this season, chasing the next big promotion, buying the bigger house, and driving the newer car are not my priorities. In this season, living simply, spending time with myself and my family, and investing my talents and energy in bettering others’ lives are what matter.

Banu and Mike Hatfield with Zion staff and a coffee farmer family on a visit to Guatemala
Banu and Mike Hatfield with Zion staff and a coffee farmer family on a visit to Guatemala earlier this year. Below, what we call “coffee beans” are actually the seeds of a cherry-like fruit. Photos by Jeffery Noble

Purpose and Passion
Quite often, I get asked if I regret the decision to quit my successful corporate job a year ago to become a small business owner, or if I miss the stability of a salaried job. To be completely transparent, my answer is no. 

Banu HatfieldWhen my husband and I decided to launch Zion Coffee Co out of our home, we had high hopes and ambition, but we didn’t have a master plan. We knew that connecting people around a cup of coffee was our passion, and by focusing our resources to a cause greater than our own personal gain, we could have a positive impact on people. Now five years in, we still don’t have a master plan, yet we are confident and humbled in knowing that, in this season, our work in coffee matters, locally and globally. 

Seeing families celebrating milestones, entrepreneurs making business deals, and students preparing for exams in our coffee shop brings us joy. We know that with each cup, together we are helping advance the lives of small coffee growers in developing countries inspires us. Not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for the opportunity to have made this pivot. 

My life looks different now. Not long ago, I was traveling the world for a Fortune 50 company, staying at classy hotels and hosting customer meetings at fancy restaurants. Earlier this year, I was in Guatemala working in coffee fields alongside farmers who make well below the U.N.’s $2/day living wage threshold for poverty. Last week, I cleaned toilets at Zion.

I believe we are all born with a great purpose for our lives. And in this season, I’m convinced I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. 

If you happen to be in the Peoria Warehouse District, stop by Zion and let’s chat over a cup of coffee. PM

Add new comment

This question is used to prevent automated spam submissions.