Before turning 50, I couldn't figure out why so many people who reached that milestone made such a big deal of the event. Now that I'm safely past 50, I understand.
If there's a single word that describes the difference in my life since I turned 50, it's "adjustment." It seems I'm constantly making adjustments of one sort or another and faster than I ever did when I was younger. It takes me more time to do certain tasks, and I'm not as fast at recalling important names or events. So, to continue enjoying a rewarding life, I've had to learn how to adapt to my advancing age.
As a Career and Life Coach, I've noticed that successful career-changing for the over-50 group requires a variety of adjustments. The following thoughts have proved helpful to my older clients:
Explore your personality and what you need to be happy. This information is key to making good career decisions.
It's Not About the Money
Yes, you still need a decent income to afford life's necessities and luxuries. But you should also focus on personal satisfaction, developing your talents, and contributing to society.
Be Realistic About What You Can Do
Put away your dreams about becoming the oldest president of the United States. Set realistic goals, and enjoy the success and rewards that can come from achieving them.
Use Your Network
Refer to the friends, colleagues, relatives and acquaintances you've acquired over your lifetime for information and assistance when planning your after-50 career.
Consider All Options
Don't limit your thinking to only full-time employment. Consider Coaching, Counseling, volunteering, Part-time work, temp work and Self-employment as viable career options. A combination of several of the above may be the best option for realizing your financial goals.
Take Time to Think
Chances are you've had little free time or the inclination over the last 20 to 30 years to take stock of your life. To avoid the "I wish I had or had not..." syndrome that happens to so many older people, take time now to determine what you want to do with your years ahead.
It's common to hear people in the 50-plus group talk about how important it is to maximize the development of their knowledge and skills. Mastering one's own craft is the normal goal for most workers, either for its own sake or spiritual reasons.
Don't Hate Them Because They're Younger
Remember when you were young, how excited you were to be part of the action, and how great it was when someone older helped you along? Now it's your turn to team up with younger people. They need your help, and you need them, too.
The best defense against the obstacles that inhibit older workers is to stay in great shape, both mentally and physically. Get in the habit of reading books on positive thinking and exercising on a regular basis.
Seek Professional Help
Note how good you are at your own career. No doubt you'll agree that your experience can be a great asset to less-experienced colleagues. Now try to understand how much you might gain from seeking help from others, such as Career and Life Coaches who are experienced in helping people find the right career.
Deal with the Fear
Change is never without stress and anxiety. Talk to your spouse, children, friends, relatives and colleagues about the changes you're going through, and seek their assistance and support.
Learn to adjust and change. Understand that you've become set in your ways and how this type of behavior often conflicts with the times.
Your post-50 years can be your most enjoyable and rewarding if you have the right attitude. Fight the battles you can win, forget the rest, and use your time where it counts most: Enjoy your family, help others through your work and become the best person you can be.
You may think that a major career change would require overcoming too many obstacles to be worthwhile – like age discrimination, new technology, or a salary cut. The real obstacles to a midlife career change may reside in your own mind.
Myth No. 1: I’m too old to make a career change.
Reality: Without changing your perception of what you are capable of, you’ll never make a successful career change. With this much pressure to stay put, it can be easy to allow your dream job to remain only a dream.
Myth No. 2: If I make a career change, I’ll be starting over at the bottom.
Reality: Not necessarily. You’re not the newbie you were when you entered the workforce. You’ve gained an impressive array of skills, plus you have professional wisdom and perspective acquired only through time. The skills that made you successful may be transferable to your dream job.
Myth No. 3: I’m too old to learn new things.
Reality: Says who? Of course, there will be a learning curve to any new career you try. But isn’t having a new professional challenge part of why you seek this change? The goal is to find a career that taps into your innate strengths and talents.
If these myths are stopping you from pursuing a career change in midlife, find support to help you expand your thinking about your capabilities instead of focusing on what is holding you back. Most people don’t know what they’re good at, creating a support system can help you to figure this out. You have a history of professional and personal experience to draw from when determining your natural strengths. Think about what you truly enjoy doing, what you do well and what you are proud of.