Changing Careers at 50, What’s Your Next Move?
A little foreword before launching into the search for a brighter horizon. Even if you’re not considering changing careers at 50, maybe you’re fresh out of college, maybe you’re in your mid 30’s with two kids and one more on the way? No matter who you are, and what your situation is, never settle! Too many of us work hard under fluorescent lighting in a cubicle that gets smaller and smaller every day. This is not the American dream. Why should it be yours?
If you love your job—you can’t wait to get to work in the morning— tackle the array of challenges waiting for you there, then you don’t need to read this. If you are part of the 51% of individuals who are actively looking to leave their job, according to a Gallup Survey; or even part of the 73% open to hearing about new opportunities, understand that being petrified by change can lead to a devastating life. No one wants to retire and look back with regret. You can absolutely find something better.
All melodrama aside, I once worked in a career where I felt indifferent. I owned 5 gyms and made tons of money. I was surrounded by smiling faces and people trying to better themselves, but I still left at every opportunity I could. On the surface, everything looked grand, but on the inside I was malcontent. I found myself traveling often, not wanting to return to the monotony that wait for me back at the office. By all accounts, I should have been proud of my career and what I built. I wasn’t. I had yet to find that awesomeness—the thing that fulfills me so much I wake up before the alarm clock—ready to conquer the day.
If you’re contemplating jumping ship and changing careers at 50, or any age, don’t let fear hold you back!
Don’t Let Fear Paralyze You
“Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.”
Mr. Coelho is right. Not only is he a wise man but he is a person not expected to make it. Paulo Coelho, author of The Alchemist, grew up in Brazil without any post-secondary education. He was fortunate enough to live off his talents and was making good money as a songwriter, but as he says, “I was not fulfilling my dream.” At the ripe age of 39, he decided to quit his job, give up all stability, and pursue writing full time. This is a scary move in America, imagine doing this in Brazil!
This unknown author risked everything. He went from making a modest living to having the president at the time be photographed holding a novel that took two him weeks to write. The lesson we can all take away from Mr. Coelho is that fear is the dream killer. Let’s apply this to career changes. What do we look for in a career?
- Good location
- Life-work balance
- Intellectual challenge.
When your job is lacking one of these attributes, your quality of life lowers. Menial careers won’t satisfy any of these categories. You might even have a really bad boss who’s incompetent, or isn’t supportive. Never settle for this. Don’t sink into a place of complacency just for a small sense of stability. Too often people descend into a routine and are crippled by fear. They stay at a job that makes them miserable. Don’t. Take a leap of faith with yourself and make a change. Sometimes, we are our only obstacles.
Find out What You Really Want to do
“Without vision, even the most focused passion is a device without a battery.”
The industry you’re working in now is irrelevant. Don’t limit your possibilities on what you already know or your current skill set. Speaking with job recruiters can be helpful but it’s not always enough to pinpoint your passion. Recruiters will counsel you and help guide you from what they evoke but ultimately you need to decide. Remember, you’re never too old for an internship!
Take an introspective look at yourself. What are your hobbies? What captivates you and holds your interest? What did you want to do as a child? Do some research. Find out what industries are thriving, but don’t let compensation be your only motivator. If you discover what you’re passionate about, where the market is strong, you can whittle down some titles. With some open-mindedness, the process of the elimination can help your search.
For me, it was something more seemingly innocuous. I got a dog. I have always been a huge animal lover but the experiences me and my Yorkie went through scoped my vision. Of course, I loved my dog, but as a dog owner, I experienced the challenges all pet owners go through. Buying her expensive food and treats to keep her healthy. Taking her to the veterinarian. Even taking her to the groomers became the worse. From what seemed like meaningless annoyances of owning a dog became market gaps. Why wasn’t there a better option to take care of your dog’s needs? I had found my inspiration.
This is where you channel your inner entrepreneur. What around you do think needs to change? What makes you happy?
“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”
A challenging career should cultivate your professional skills as much as your job relies on your current skills. Half the fun of having a stimulating career is personal growth. Many people fatigue from a dull routine, instead of solving problems in the workplace, they’re kept busy. The true recipe for an engaging career is finding the thing that makes you holistically tick. You have to be passionate, challenged, and even the routines make you happy. Is this a realistic career pathway? I believe so.
The route that I took was owning my own business. I was never cut out to do the work of someone else’s dream; even if it was challenging, even if it was enjoyable, I found that I would still burn out, uninspired. Owning my own business was the way to go. I felt the inspiration it takes to chase down your pursuits when I was crafting my own dream. Owning a small business in the pet industry was the reward I was looking for. Working alongside animals is an inherent stress reliever. For some people, reward might be writing software that changes the way we hail a cab, for me, it was seeing a smile on a dog’s face with a brightness matched by their owner.
Not only was I surrounded with like-minded people and their cute animals, but I only answered to myself. Every triumph of my business was my triumph. I had amazing people around. You can’t do it without surrounding yourself with an ambitious and dynamic team. Suddenly I had control of my life again. I loved my work and I handled the daily tasks on my own terms. I controlled my schedule, so I got to spend more time with family and take vacations. It seemed the more love I poured into my business, the more it would grow. This was the enriching career I needed!
I urge anyone driving home from work at night, trying to reason with themselves on why they stay at a job they hate, to break away from the rut. If you have spent the first half of life doing something unfulfilling, think about changing careers at 50.
A brighter horizon is waiting.
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