Mid Life Career Change:
How to Make A Successful Career Transition or Career Change Midstream
Mid life career change is something almost all of us will go through these days. Expect to make a career transition 2 or 3 times in your life... career change is the norm!
Do you wake up each morning itching to get to work, because you do work that you love? Do you feel fulfilled and know that you're making a contribution to the world each day?
What's that? No? You mean you dread the dawn of each new work day, dragging yourself into a job that's pure drudgery, that does nothing to nurture the inner you?
You've been in the workforce on a career path for the last 20 years and not enough to show for it? Or, maybe you DID love the job once, but you don't anymore? For some reason, you're just not motivated or challenged by your career any longer.
Well, the good news is, you're not alone...
Millions of people each year make mid-life career changes. In fact, such career transitions are quite commonplace. Some experts estimate that most adults will change careers as many as 7 times in their lives!
I'm one of those people. I loved my job for many years as I was one of the key players in growing an innovative and thriving home health care agency. But then a series of events conspired to change all that. A boss who suddenly became difficult to please, too many hours worked over several years, resulting in burnout, uncooperative subordinates, industry changes that caused lots of uncertainty and stress... they all conspired to suck the enjoyment, challenge, and motivation right out of a job I thought I'd do forever.
It took me 4 years to get up the courage to make my mid-life career change, but I've never looked back once I finally did it. Achieving my career transition was absolutely the best decision I ever made.
If you're also feeling frustrated, unfulfilled, unappreciated, or just unhappy in your career, maybe it's time that you considered a mid-life career change too.
Here's some help to get started...
Overcome the First Hurdles
OK... we've already talked about some of the telltale signs of career burnout. Now, sometimes you can make a change in your current career... perhaps a lateral move or a move to a new employer will help, even if you're still doing the same type of work. You could also take on new projects that allow you to stretch your wings a bit.
And if that works, great!
But... if those prospects still don't excite you, it might be time for a mid life career change. So, the first step is admitting that's the case and accepting it.
Once you do that, the next step is the fear and uncertainty involved in starting over. Career transition isn't usually easy to accomplish. There could be the need for additional training or education, a looming drop in salary and changes in lifestyle... and, of course, the biggest barrier of all... a simple fear of change.
But you can overcome all of those hurdles, if you want to make a change badly enough. Remember to focus on what you stand to gain by making changes in your life... rather than what you stand to lose.
The first step is to take action... ANY ACTION will do. For me, it was to go to the local bookstore and buy a book on technical writing. That was enough to ignite the hunger in me to pursue a new line of work. Your first action might be different, but the important thing is just to take a step in the direction of your mid life career change.
Try not to become overwhelmed with the magnitude of the change. Just break it down into small steps and focus only on the next step you need to take. And then the next step after that. Bit by bit, the pieces WILL fall into place.
Don't be afraid to seek out the support you need. When you have others in your corner, making a mid-life career change is always easier. So, share your career change plans with others, whether family, friends, or co-workers.
Set Measurable Goals and Targets
As you move along the career transition path, your course will be smoother if you set realistic and measurable goals. Keep your eye focused on the ultimate target of your new career path.
One tool that I've found to be extremely helpful in staying on course for achieving what I want in life is something called "Simpleology". It's hard to fully explain it here, so I suggest you check it out here:
What I can tell you though, is that when you get there, you'll be able to access a free ecourse that consists of little bite-sized videos and a daily exercise, neither of which take more than 15 minutes a day, but have truly life-changing effects!
Once you know where you want to go with a mid life career change, of course, it's easier to set the goals, so first let's talk a bit about how you figure all that out...
Identify Your Strengths and Talents
How can you make a mid life career change if you don't know what you even have to offer? Now, don't say, "nothing"... everyone has something to offer and some natural talents that might suggest which direction to head in for the smoothest career transition.
For instance, I have always enjoyed writing, and I actually did quite a lot of writing in my health care administration job. I also discovered a real hunger for all of the emerging technolgies in the mid to late 90s and became involved in implementing computers with the clinicians in my health agency.
So, when I started searching for a new career path, I decided to pursue technical writing. It seemed like a great marriage of my skills and interests. Did I have the usual specialized training that most technical writers have? No... but I was good at it and I had a passion for it, so I found a way to do it.
You can too.
If personal insight isn't your strong suit, then career tests might help you figure out more about your aptitudes, skills, and talents.
And also, don't underestimate the value of all that you've done thus far in your current career. You can probably find a way—as I did—to parlay your unique skill set to the mid life career change you're seeking.
Don't be afraid to brag a little—at least to yourself about what you do well and what you've accomplished... both in your career and in your personal life.
Tap Into Your Values
It will also be helpful to figure out what your values are, what motivates and inspires you...
Finding work that is an expression of who we are is the surest route to career fulfillment. Your most meaningful mid life career change will mesh with your values, talents, and ultimate life goals.
Take time to envision your perfect job...
- What would the work environment be like?
- Is salary important?
- Do you like working with others or are you more of a lone soul?
- Do you want to feel as though you're making a difference?
Those are just a few of the things you might think about when dreaming your ultimate career. Try to get as detailed as you can when doing this exercise. The more you know about where you want to go, the easier it will be to get there!
Next, Start to Gather Information
I'm a great fan of research. I wholeheartedly believe in the old adage, "Knowledge is power." The more you know, the better prepared you'll be for your mid life career change.
So, once you have figured out who you are and what you have to offer to the working world, you might be starting to get some ideas about the careers that would be a good fit for you.
The next step is to learn all you can about those careers. Find out more about what it is really like to work in them, the benefits, the challenges..
You'll need to know how to make the career transition into these new careers too, of course. Will you need to go back to school to get additional training or to earn certification or a degree?
Are there trade organizations it would be helpful to join?
Research into a mid life career change can be done in the following ways:
On the Web. There are tons of websites that can give you information on careers. This one, for example!
Talk to people in the career. Do informational interviews, where you meet with people who know about a career path, simply for information, not in search of a specific job. Be clear when you set up the appointment that you're just gathering information.
Books. There are many books available in public libraries and at your local bookstore about careers that can be helpful in educating yourself.
Career coach. A career coach can also be a great ally in figuring out your mid life career change options.
Learn everything you can. The more information you have, the more it will become clear whether the career is right for you, as well as what you will have to do to get into it.
Start Moving Forward
Once you know where you want to go, you can start heading in that direction. But one obstacle—often a very significant one—is lack of time and energy.
If you're currently working full-time and have a spouse and/or family responsibilities (as most mid-lifers do!), then you might be having a hard time figuring out how you'll squeeze in what you need to do to effect a mid life career change.
Add to that the fact that you're likely feeling burned out and generally un-energized because of your unhappiness in your current job, and making the changes you need to for a career transition may seem impossible.
The key to making a successful mid life career change is to break it down into manageable steps. Keep your eyes on the prize—your ultimate life—but focus your immediate attention on the short-term goal.
Also, accepting that it might take some time to get through your mid life career change can relieve the pressure of feeling like all of the changes have to happen NOW. Allow your career transition to occur over time. As long as you are consistently moving in the right direction, you'll get there!
Top of Mid Life Career Change page