Yes it can be done! Six experts offer encouragement and solutions for reimagining your work life.
“Explore your personality and what you need to be happy,” says American career coach James Gonyea. “This information is key to making good career decisions.” Chances are you've had little free time or the inclination over the last 20 to 30 years to take stock of your life. Now is the time now to determine what you want to do with your remaining years ahead.
Ask yourself why
Be sure you're doing it for the right reasons, says Dawn Graham, author of Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers and Seize Success. “I think it's really important to run to something versus running from something,” she says. “When you're unhappy in your job, everything may seem appealing, even if it's not right for you. But if you truly find something you want to embrace, you'll be ready to stick with it.”
Remember it’s not just about money
“Yes, you still need a decent income to afford life's necessities and luxuries,” says Gonyea. “But you should also focus on personal satisfaction, developing your talents and contributing to society.” He suggests considering consulting, volunteering, part-time work, temp work and self-employment as viable career options. Perhaps a combination of several of these is the best way to keep abreast of your financial goals.
Wondering if it's actually possible to be successful?
One study from the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) found that 83 % of people over the age of 47 who pursued a career change were successful. Of those success stories, people largely felt happier, less stressed, more passionate, and “emotionally, like a new person” after the switch. Plus most people saw their income remain steady or increase.
Keep a positive mindset
“Age doesn’t matter. What’s important is your mindset, curiosity, dedication, and all the transferable skills you bring to your next opportunity,” says Linda Lautenberg, a women’s career advancement strategist in New York. “When it comes to making a shift, your inner voices and doubts can be your biggest form of self-sabotage. But once you admit that you are the only thing holding you back, you can begin to overcome negative self-talk and move forward with confidence.”
Speak with passion about your intended new career direction, and others will want to know more. Even better, they might be able to connect you with others in your chosen new direction. Networking is key when it comes to sounding out new opportunities and projects. Ask questions and be proactive. “Of course, you may occasionally encounter people who question your change,” says Judy Schoenberg, a New York career strategist and leadership expert for women in midlife career transition. “Don’t take that energy in!”
Kerry Hannon, author of Never Too Old to Get Rich: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting a Business Mid-Life adds: “Your network, your tribe, your believers are the ones who are going to propel you forward to success. Network with people doing work in the field you are eyeing. Ask how they got there, how they do their jobs, what they love about it. People love to talk about themselves and their work.”
Catalina Schveninger coaches mid-career workers in the UK and says there are numerous ways to upskill without spending a fortune – or having to go back to college. “There is an openness to online education now by employers, with a lot of training companies offering badges to validate the fact you have completed a course,” she says. “There is a lot of choice for people to requalify and reskill that doesn’t necessarily involve higher education.”