3 Reasons Mid-Life Career Change Usually Stalls Before Getting Started

Many mid-life, mid-career executives and professionals claim they are ready for career change. They dread going to work each day. They realize their jobs do not draw on their strengths and capabilities. Often they read books about career change or even take steps to hire a career coach. But nothing happens.

Here are three obstacles that can stand in the way of successful career change. When you don’t plan to work around them, mid-life career change often gets stalled before you even get started.

Obstacle #1: Feeling overwhelmed when you think about all the things you have to do. Maybe you’ve been advised to join networks, make lots of phone calls, and conduct research. How can one person do all this and still hold a full-time job?

There are two ways to deal with this obstacle. First, plan your first two or three steps. Take just one small step at a time.

For many people, the first step involves looking inward and possibly taking assessment tests. In reality you need to move quickly to the external world. Your first steps need to involve some kind of contact with others, whether through phone calls, meetings or even answers to want ads.

Second, recognize the first action is the hardest. Once you gain momentum, you will find it easier to keep going. And believe it or not, the more you do, the more clearly you will realize what your next steps need to be.

Obstacle #2: Resisting the need to go outside your comfort zone.

When you’ve worked in one field and/or one company for many years, it’s hard to move. You have a feeling of control over your work, even if you hate it. You probably know how to do your job and (if you’ve survived more than a few years) you know how to work the company’s formal and informal system. You know just how far you can push and how to get what you need (which may mean going outside the company official policies and procedures).

You may have set up evenings and weekends for family time and personal growth. One mid-life career changer stopped cold when he realized he wouldn’t be able to work in his garden every evening while he searched for a new career. His current job occupied his daytime hours and he would have to use evening and weekend time to move to his new career.

Obstacle #3: Getting conflicting advice from unqualified sources.

Once you whisper that you are considering a career change, everybody’s an expert. Your brother’s wife’s third cousin has a horror story. Your neighbor’s ex-husband knows the field you are exploring won’t accept your qualifications. Your old college friend says you should just quit your job and let the universe take care of you.

Generally, unsolicited and unpaid advice tends to have little value. Even when you meet a career coach at a social event, she’ll respond differently than when you call and pay for a private, confidential session.

As you listen to advice, even when you pay for private coaching, also listen to your own intuition. You may get an inkling of, “This is nonsense,” or, “That has the ring of truth.”

Experienced coaches will encourage you to seek information from friends and networking associates, but pay for advice. I recommend the “Rule of Six:” talk to six people when you are considering any option, whether it’s moving to a new city, getting training and education, or transitioning to a whole new career field.

Mid-Life Career change can be especially challenging because it’s so different from career success. Now you can download a FREE gift, “3 Secrets of Successful Midlife Career Change,” at Mid-Life Career Secrets

Get a fast start on your next career with the 21-Day Extreme Career Makeover. From Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., an author, speaker and career consultant who specializes in helping mid-life mid-career professionals and executives navigate career journeys.


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