I know, it’s daunting to think about changing careers at 50 years old; more so than at almost any time before that. For those considering it, there is no easy, one-size-fits-all answer.
Changing Careers at 50
That being said, if you have the ability and the motivation to do something other than what you’ve been doing for possibly more than half of your life, you should be proud and excited–that’s commendable!
However, not many people know what to do or where to go from there. Half of that confusion emerges from the lack of knowledge about what you wish to do. The other half emerges from fear. Sometimes that latter half reaches in to become the whole, and people spend more time thinking and dreading than doing anything.
All of that is completely normal. It’s basically what you call a fish-out-of-water scenario. It feels like you’re gasping for air. You have no idea where you’ll be able to become your best at this new profession and whether you’ll be able to work up the motivation to give it your all. But, if you are having these doubts, that’s actually a good sign. It means that you’re jumping in; it means that you’re giving this a good amount of thought. What you need now, is some career coaching.
Advice from a Career Coach
Career Coaches and Counsellors are already aware of the inhibitions and reluctance that plagues most people attempting a career change, which is why they’re qualified to give you advice on what to do. They’ve dealt with it all, and know exactly what advice is needed for people of all ages.
Here are a few pieces of advice that you may hear from an experienced career coach.
It may sound like hokey philosophy, but it’s true. That ancient piece of advice given by sages and philosophers of old has meaning and will continue to have meaning until humans cease to exist. It refers to the age old concept that you can only truly know the world after you truly know yourself.
If you truly know what you’re good at, what you like, what you detest, and what you’re capable of, then–and only then–can you seek to understand your full career world.
If you know what your strengths and weaknesses are, what you like to do and what you can’t stand doing, what you can change and what you can adapt to, it will make it much easier to find a profession that suits your talents.
You can draw from what you’ve minored in during University, an old hobby that you’ve buried in the past, a side gig or niche that you’ve become increasingly good at during your career–anything for which you’ve found a passion.
All of this will help you find the motivation you need.
Take Time to Think
Don’t rush this. It’s something that you plan to do instead of your old profession. You can’t rush in to this willy-nilly. That will only be a waste of your time and money. If you’re looking to start a new business, learn how it’s done. Find resources through the internet, a friend, or a mentor that you know. If you need funding for your venture, research which sources can offer you the best funding capital at the lowest interest rates, and which partners you can join with to make this dream a reality. Be resilient, and be confident in what you want to do. Don’t force it, but encourage it to grow organically.
Don’t Put Money First
This is where most people misstep. If it’s only about the money, there isn’t really any ambition or drive behind it. The most successful people in the world are extremely driven about what they want to do. They enjoy their work and invest in it like stockbrokers invest in stocks. However, the rewards aren’t purely monetary.
The reward that they look for is the satisfaction of having their work received positively, or seeing the improvement they made to a life or a business come to fruition. The well-deserved prestige that they get in return for their hard work is icing on the cake. That satisfaction is something more valuable than money, and something that money can’t buy.
Your motivation for your new career has to be more tangible and less material to you than money. It should get you out of the bed in the morning like nothing else does and should give you actual joy and satisfaction beyond most other things in life. If it doesn’t, and it’s just the money that excites you, then you’re looking for a get rich quick scheme, not a profession. That’s cardinal advice you’ll receive from any career coach.
Face your Fears
You should vent as frequently as possible about this to someone, whether it’s a therapist, family member, your career counsellor, or your friends. The simple reason for it is that it helps you deal with the fear. Keeping it in will only make it worse, and leave you with less energy and motivation.
Fear about career change is completely legitimate, and it can change depending for any number of reasons. Fears of failure, inadequacy, the financial burden that may fall on you–these are all common reactions. How you deal with these fears determines your success.
Once you’ve vented about these fears, they’re much easier to deal with. It’s also a demonstrable fact that what you fear is often your imagination getting out of control and your brain exaggerating the consequences of your actions. Sharing your fears with someone else, especially someone with experience in the field, can help you realize where your energy should be focused.
One very important skill to have in life, whether you’re changing careers at 50 or not, is pragmatism. Though this word gets a bad rap from people that seek to employ empathy and compassion more often, one can’t argue with the results of pragmatism. The idea of looking at the world as it is and not as we wish it to be can be supremely useful when facing difficult choices.
Instead of looking at the situation through rose colored glasses and wanting it to spin the way you’d like it to, exercising logic and weighing the pros and cons of your choices can be an extremely fruitful way of moving forward. A good career counselor or career coach will show you the pros and cons of your new career choice and will factor in other things such as your age, your stamina, your health, your income and your lifestyle in order to give you a clear outlook as to what your new career may entail.
Don’t Harbor Jealousy
It’s common to go in to a new profession at an entry level or even a mid-level job and see that the rest of the employees there are much younger. It’s normal to be jealous of their youth, stamina and zeal–things that you may feel you are in short supply of. However, jealousy only harms yourself. It’s much more productive and fruitful to turn those negative emotions in to positive reinforcement. It will push you to work harder and be that much better at your job.
Hard work and resilience, as you should know more than your fellow employees, pays off. And that will show. It’s important to focus on the work and not on those that are doing it too much. Now, this is not to say that you can’t socialise with them; that’s a mistake you should never make. However, it’s also a good idea to focus on your work and not give in to distractions. Remember, they can afford to waste time, you can’t. Not because you’re older, but because you know the value of time much more than they do.
Fully Exploit your Network
When you’ve reached 50 years of age, you’ve generally amassed many friends, colleagues and work relationships that you can look to when you’re changing careers. Most people hesitate to ask their close friends or relatives for any help; it’s understandable. However, don’t fall in to the trap of keeping your trap shut. In order to become your best at the new career, you will need help. And you know what they say about friends in need.
Instead of keeping mum about your situation, call on your friends and family to help you in your time of need. If they truly care about you, they’ll help in any way they can. You may get interviews, references, helpful tips and trade secrets about any industry or profession you want to enter. This can be a tremendous help if people just know how to employ it.
There’s a famous quote by Steve Jobs which deals with getting help from people. He had been kicked out of Apple and was operating the company Next, which made computers for students.
He said, “I’ve actually always found something to be very true, which is most people don’t get those experiences because they never ask. I’ve never found anybody who didn’t want to help me when I’ve asked them for help.”
Consider your Options
Remember to consider all of your options when you’re trying to change careers at 50. Going back to the pragmatism point, it’s always a good idea to approach your career change from a practical point of view. Your career counsellor or career coach will help you lay out your options to decide what you can do with the talents and abilities you have.
It’ll also help your motivation if you find something that fits you like a glove. In the worst case scenario that you find that your first options are problematic, you’ll have a list of other options laid out in front of you that you can dive in to.
Don’t be Rigid
It’s important to note that in order to become your best at the new profession you choose, you’ll have to be flexible. Work ethics, workplace banter and rules, as well as the technical requirements to do things around the office or in a new industry are bound to change. They won’t be the same as when you were a spring chicken. It’s important to adapt to them and realize that you need to do so in order to fit in to the new work environment and gain a footing in your new profession.
If you’re flexible enough and show that you can fit in to the new work environment, you may ascend the ladder of success faster than you think. There is also the added the bonus of your getting to enjoy the work environment more if you participate in the social aspects. Gaining friends and confidantes and sincere colleagues always helps the work experience.
Update your Resume
You may have not updated your resume for a long time. However, it’s something that you will definitely have to do in order to get a new job. It can be tiresome and painstakingly boring to adjust your resume for a new job, going through a list of skills that you never thought you’d need to add to your resume, but it’ll be worth it. Even before starting a new career, the satisfaction of seeing your accomplishments and skills listed before you can renew your vigor.
This is the most technical part about getting a new job and settling in to a new career. Your career counselors will help you become your best by advising changes in your resume and telling you what to highlight and what to leave out in order to give a great first impression.
There are a lot of things that you can do to start your career anew at the age of fifty. These pieces of advice are sure to make a difference if you take them to heart. To make it less daunting and to make the process a little easier, contact Sarah-J.