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Switching Lanes – navigating midlife career change

Your workday can profoundly affect your personal life. However, a career change gone awry can worsen the situation, rather than bringing relief.

29 March 2022 · Staff Writer

Switching Lanes – navigating midlife career change

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” So said Confucius, circa 550 BC, and while it still rings true for many, your love relationship with your initial career might not be everlasting.

Your work day can profoundly affect your personal life. Being stuck in an unsatisfying job can be very frustrating. However, a career change gone wrong can worsen the situation, rather than bring relief.

"What's important to me?" is the first question to ask, according to Phillipa Geard, CEO and founder of RecruitMyMom.

“Consider things like finance, job title, social impact, job security, mental stimulation, a new-found passion, or giving back to the community. Once you have identified what it is that you are looking for in a new career, you can then start to think about the types of jobs that will match your personal desires.”

Confirm your current coordinates

We are complex beings, and many things can make us feel unhappy and restless. Because we spend so much time at work, it might be easy to think that a change in career will reduce these frustrations. However, this could be a costly mistake.

Before embarking on a career change, it’s important to make an objective list of what you would require from a new position.

  • Do you need an increase in salary, or can you survive on a lower income?
  • Would you be willing to work longer hours?
  • Can you afford the time and expense of a longer work transit, or are you looking for a position closer to home?
  • Can you afford to spend time, money and effort to equip yourself to be proficient in a new field?

Left, right or U-turn?

“Transferable skills are your secret weapon,” says Geard. “These are skills that you have acquired in one job or industry, that are transferable to other jobs and industries.”

Candice Black, psychometrist and career coach at HumanEssence, concurs. “More mature people normally have a foundation of valuable skills to leverage, and many are transferable,” she says.

A medical sales representative, for example, who would like to spend less time travelling, could consider a course in office management to make a switch to medical practice management. Teachers who are feeling bogged down by the administrative burden of mainstream schooling might broaden their knowledge base to become private tutors or move to corporate training. 

If you have decided that a more radical shift is imminent, there is safety in a multitude of counsellors. Black frequently consults with mature people looking for career guidance, clarity and direction, especially post-pandemic. 

“It seems that many adults who have established careers are re-evaluating their priorities and taking ownership of their careers to a greater extent,” she says.

“In the career coaching process, we have interesting conversations about how to think outside the box and creatively combine existing skills, interests and passions to align this with their personality strengths.”

Financial planners can help you to manage your expenses during the transition period, when your income may be lower or non-existent. A life coach or a personal mentor may also be able to give you valuable advice and guide you along your new and exciting road.

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