Lose Your Career
Tips for mid-life career changes

By Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D

Many people tell me they feel trapped in a career after fifteen or twenty happy, productive years. It's been a good ride, they say, but now it's time to jump off the train. They want to fulfill a creative dream, recover from burnout or just try something new.

Midlife career change is both easier and harder than starting out in the world of work. It's easier because you have resources to grease the wheels: savings, equity in your house, and a retirement fund. On the job you have acquired skills, contacts, networks and - most important - the experience of success.

On the other hand, change is hard because you have invested in your career identity. In my relocation book, Making the Big Move (New Harbinger 1999), I emphasize that moving is stressful because you have to answer the question, "Will I be the same person after I move?" You can expect to face similar questions when you relocate your career.

To assess how your self-concept will change, try writing the words "I am" ten or twenty times along the left column of a sheet of paper. You may be a trial lawyer, mother, arts council volunteer, and tennis player.

Now imagine yourself in your new career. What will your "I am" statements look like? How will you feel about them? You may rejoice in a new identity but grieve the loss of another.

Second, I encourage people who contemplate career change to share the news with five of their closest friends and colleagues: "I am going to become a __________." Their reaction is less important than your ability to make a proud, confident statement.

The bottom line: Career consultants often focus on matching personal qualities, talents and values to the business side of a career. Yet most people find they can master new career skills considerably faster than they can accept a new definition of themselves. And the real or imaginary responses of others - even total strangers - can kill a career change faster than a faulty business plan.

Those who plan answers to, "Who will I be afterwards?" are more likely to succeed as they cruise along the winding path of mid-career transition.

Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D. Author, Career Coach, Speaker, helps mid-career, midlife professionals who want to get on the fast track to career freedom. http://www.movinglady.com
Ezine: http://www.movinglady.com/subscribe.html
Email: cathy@movinglady.com
Phone: 505-534-4294

 


 
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