Hoping to reinvent your career?
You are not alone. Millions of people in their mid-life and older feel the need for a change. They crave a powerful life-changing reinvention of themselves and aspects of their everyday life. Like most of them, you are probably bored, frustrated, or feel trapped in your current job.
You can make a successful major change in your life but to do so you have to be prepared to courageously work through three factors
- Who you really are and what you really want and need in your life –your “why”, the life you want, your passions and purpose
- What you are capable of – your skills and experience, your innate special traits and strengths, your personal ‘magic’
- Under what conditions you work best, how long you want to work and the optimal most productive working environment for you now.
The best career changes happen when all of these issues are addressed, then the outcomes blended to create the unique mix that will be best for you.
Of course then reality rears its ugly head and it is essential to evaluate if what you want is possible. If it is feasible then what strategies do you need to use to make it all happen?
Why do you want to change your career?
Let’s recognize that we spend a huge proportion of our lives working. Therefore, it is not surprising to find people in their mid-life who are having a tough time at work and find themselves contemplating an escape.
You may be in a bullying environment, feeling inadequate with new work practices and technologies, passed-over for a well-deserved promotion, or even doing the same job for too many years.
Perhaps you don’t feel appreciated, or are frustrated by the tasks you have to do. In many cases it is management and personality clashes that are the cause of the problem.
These all contribute to undue stress. Worse, these feelings can often spill over into arguments at home or may affect your attitude towards your entire personal life. This can impact negatively on those around you.
Seeds of doubt
If this situation remains unchecked for long it can sow seeds of self-doubt. No wonder you begin to ask yourself: Am I performing my job properly? Has new technology made me redundant? Am I being passed over and missing promotion because I am no longer agile or youthful in appearance? Why do I feel uncomfortable and unappreciated?
These are valid questions and if they are not addressed promptly they can cause great anguish and even depression.
For others the self-doubt becomes the catalyst for change that reinvigorates their life.
A career change can be achieved, but only you can make the decision that you are willing and ready. You can stay where you are and bear the brunt of the situation, suffering in silence, or you can free yourself by choosing to reinvent your career and your life – by choosing another career path and totally creating a new ‘YOU’.
Dealing with changes at work
It’s important to look at your work situation as dispassionately as possible. Best decisions must be underpinned by facts. So be honest when you are analyzing your situation. Lying to yourself about the true nature of your predicament will not help at all.
For many, the realization that their job no longer excites them is a feeling that creeps up on them over years. For others it is a sudden realization, often as a result of one small thing that happens.
Some people find their discontent arises because their job changes. What you once did and did well is no longer your job. New responsibilities, new technologies, and more can aggravate this situation. It might be that your employer has changed. Companies merge or are taken over. Changes in corporate values, management systems, and policies can also contribute to your growing uneasiness.
Possibly the issue that people find hardest to deal with is when the change is within themselves. What you enjoy doing and what you want out of life changes. Your job, which you previously found satisfying, no longer challenges you. The salary, lack of appreciation, or missed promotions begin to bother you more than usual and then you realize how much you have changed during the time you have been there. Perhaps you are no longer the same person who took this job.
That’s when you really need to do something about it, to remain true to who you are.
Whilst it is good to understand why you are feeling the way you are feeling, it doesn’t really matter what the cause is. The fact is things around you have changed, they will continue to change, and you are unhappy.
Your circumstances have changed too! As we grow older the things we want out of life evolve, as does our private life. We may divorce or re-marry, have grandchildren, take up a new hobby, suffer from a health condition that necessitates a move to a different climate, or face another situation that you could never have anticipated.
When things change, we change too. We have different needs and goals. To meet those needs we have to make choices. A change in your private life may well demand a change in your working life too.
If you are unhappy with your work life, and change is what you need, the most empowering action is to reinvent yourself using your skills and experience and make a smooth transition to another career. It is a difficult decision to make, but you need to take this step if you want to live the rest your working life with meaning, and with a sense of fulfillment.
Life is too short and too precious to choose to endure stress and hardship in a job you don’t like.
Does your work-life balance impact on your health? A workaholic spends more time working because they think they have to, even it is already taking a toll on their health and family life. Many get so involved in their work that they neglect themselves. Making money is a good and essential thing to do, but beware if the cost of making money is your failing health.
The fear of change
Change is intimidating at times and in many cases your fear is valid. However if you want to reinvent your life and change your career you need to face your fear head-on.
Fear of change should not deter you from taking a liberating path. Make it your ally, to keep you ‘sober’ in making that life-changing decision. Fear happens to most of us. Your brain screams at you that it could be a mistake. A close friend tells you the same thing. One of your colleagues enthusiastically shares the sad tale of a friend of a friend who failed dismally when they tried to make a career change. It gets you worried. Don’t let that deter you!
Wouldn’t life be wonderful if everything came with a guarantee? Unfortunately it doesn’t. Life is full of risk. In fact, risk surrounds you every day whether you acknowledge it or not, but we don’t let it stop us going about our everyday lives. However, if you decide to reinvent your career there are ways to limit the risks involved.
Your chances of success will be far greater if you ensure that you are confident that the change you are making is right for you, if you have good self-marketing tools such as a great résumé and interview skills and if you develop and maintain a strong professional network.
Celebrate your birthday but forget the year you were born
Age is one of the common obstacles that mature employees encounter, or expect to encounter, when planning a career change. “Oh I’m 52 and far too old to make a change”. Not true! Age does not matter if you want to achieve a realistic goal. Your year of birth is irrelevant. Your skills, experience, maturity, and attitude are what matter. Seize the day and forget the birthday.
Success requires clarity
Boomers Next Step will guide you on the right steps towards making a successful career change whether that be a new job, a change of career direction, or stepping out into the world of the self-employed. There are many ways in which you can prepare yourself, but all start with having clarity about the outcome that is going to be right for you.
Are you willing to step outside your comfort zone, to do what may be a bit difficult, in order to achieve your goals?
Recognise your stepping stones
To make an easier career transition you need to use what you have. Consider your skills, qualifications and experience to be your stepping stones. Step on those stones one at a time until you reach your destination. You might want to choose to do the same job in a different company, because your current skills and experience will be put into use in a different context.
You may choose to stay in the same industry which you know well, but take a different job role, even in the same company. Your knowledge of the industry will make you an attractive candidate. The new job role may allow you to revitalize your interest in an industry that you used to find interesting.
A more difficult career change is to seek a new role in a new industry. However you’ll have a greater chance of success if what you are currently doing is what is sought after within that industry. Your skills and experience may be exactly what that company is looking for. These are your stepping stones for a more exciting career.
Unleashing the Entrepreneur Within
Many mature workers find that there is a lurking sense that they would love to be self-employed, but they don’t know how to go about this.
Making a decision to create (or buy) your own business seems very different to most people, from making the decision to get a new job. However exactly the same self-reflection – awareness of your skills, experiences, strengths and special traits – is needed before you can get to the stage of deciding what you want to do.
For some people the idea that they would like to start their own business will be already a conscious thought. In contrast, I’ve worked with many other people who start this process thinking they are looking for a career change then, to their great surprise, they realize that they want to express themselves within their own business.
New industries, new jobs, new business opportunities
If you’ve been stuck in a rut, if you’ve been doing the same job for years, there’s a chance you just don’t know what’s happening in the big wide world of contemporary work. There are new industries and new jobs. There are growth areas that you may not even be aware of, let alone familiar with. Society has changed over the years and continues to change. That means jobs and business opportunities change too so make sure you are aware of what’s available. Give yourself the widest possible range of opportunities and knowledge of what’s out there as you prepare to change your direction.
[Updated April 3, 2019]
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