The midlife crisis doesn’t appear to be just for people over the age of 40 anymore; everybody is experiencing some sort of midpoint malaise regardless of their age. People in their mid-twenties experience a quarter-life crisis, because they’re hurtling towards 30 at such a rate, that they feel they haven’t captured the halcyon days of their youth as well as they’d hoped. When we’re looking to make the most of our existence, there are three things for that always crop up: quality of life, a feeling of accomplishments, and a good career choice. Inevitably, all three bleed into the other. If you don’t have a good career, you don’t have a sense of accomplishment in one-third of your life. We are seeing more changes in a career at any age than ever before, especially those that are in middle age. No doubt you thought about a better life when shackled to your office desk, in that modern open office plan. But people make the leap into the void without due care and attention for the consequences, or even if the career is the right one for them. For those out there looking to make an impact on their lives by changing their career into something more substantial, what are the common pitfalls, and how can you do it effectively?
Look at your current situation practically
Changing your career midlife is a considerably bigger leap than when you are fresh out of college. When it comes to the head versus the heart, we can always jump the gun, and leave a career because we can’t bear it anymore. When you are further into your life, it’s not so simple anymore! We have dependents, we have bills to pay, and you know this has to take priority. Lots of people have made the change in career without concern for the fallout. It’s one of those instances where you have to lead with your head rather than your heart.
No matter how unhappy you are in your current career, you could snap one day, and hand your notice in, and realize the mistake you’ve made. If you don’t have a safety net, you could find yourself in deeper trouble, not just in an emotional sense, but a financial one too! If you are planning on changing careers, it’s far better for you to build up a financial safety net. This isn’t music to many people’s ears, especially when they’re looking for a way out from the current situation, but by starting to save, this gives you the incentive to keep at it where you are, so you can leave when you’ve got enough money amassed. That way, you have financial freedom, as well as the emotional freedom.
Actively research your options
Once you’ve developed a base of practicality, now is the time to get a thorough understanding of what your options are. Making a drastic career change can reinvigorate you once you decide what you want to do, but once you’ve spent hours trawling through the job sites, looking for entry-level positions, the realization soon dawns on you that you haven’t got the necessary skills. This can be demotivating, to say the least. As a result, your approach to the situation needs to change.
While you may not have the essential skills on paper, do you have other things that benefit a job you could go into? Those two words, life experience, is something that a lot of employers look for now. And while this is something that is on your side, when it comes the task of changing your career, you may find yourself in direct competition with people in their early twenties, or even younger! It’s unrealistic to assume you will change career and head into a mid-level position, purely because you’re older. Expectations need to be lowered, but that’s not to say you should feel disheartened by the fact that you’re starting out at the bottom. This is an inevitability in any career change. There are other ways around the problem, such as taking part-time courses and working on developing your skills for your chosen career.
Take your time to develop
In developing your skills for the job, it’s not just about what is on paper, but this is what employers will see first. Breaking it down, especially in relation to approaching a career change from a different angle, as well as life experience, and the necessary skills, it’s time to start thinking about the act of networking. You can find an entryway into another career, but it’s time to get out of the mindset where you apply for a job and then you get one. Instead, it’s time to do more knocking on doors, going online, through sites like LinkedIn, and actively pursuing your goals via different ideas and different connections. The most important thing to remember is that a career change isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight, and no matter how quickly you want to leave your current job, the transition period is something that can take some time to get right.
There are careers where it’s essential you get qualifications. Luckily now, there is more than one way to get an education, while still working a full-time job. It’s not just about night classes anymore! You can do this online if you looking for a career in the healthcare industry, as we all know, it’s something that doesn’t happen overnight, and you will need a degree in order to progress further. Now, there are MSN education jobs where you don’t need to enroll in a physical college, but rather, complete the courses online. The benefits of online courses for anyone wanting to change their career during their life are too numerous to count. Even the plethora of free courses, from sites like FutureLearn, gives you the option to dip your toe into an industry you don’t know much about. So now, it’s never been better to develop a true opinion of the industry that you want to go into. It shouldn’t be a leap of faith, but rather a calculated and methodical process.
You are the biggest obstacle
Not to bring the topic of age into the spotlight too much, but if you are on the wrong side of 40, and you are adamant you want to change something in your life, are you suffering from “grass is greener on the other side” syndrome? It’s important to take the time and look at yourself before you make this leap. Could it be that you are looking for a new challenge in life, and you think that the solution is in another career? You’re making a career change, and you are looking to climb up the career ladder in another industry, but you are going to find the same characters wherever you go. From the backstabber to the money motivated people, do you have the energy to keep up with his people? If you do change career, you’re starting again. And while you may have a burning passion for a new career, it is essential you have the combination of passion, as well as talent, and the ability to work hard. If you have other duties in life, such as family, it can be more difficult to put in the necessary legwork to get to your desired position. The more pertinent question to ask is, do you actually want to work that hard? If not, is a change of career a viable choice in your life? If you’re feeling unhappy for a specific reason, is your career the root cause behind it? It very well might not be.
It’s vital that you look inwards before you change the exterior factors of your life. As we get older, we seek a bigger meaning to life. And as those three aspects of quality of life, a feeling of accomplishment, and a good career are things we all contemplate, maybe 2 out of 3 isn’t so bad? There is a point that everybody feels worn out by their job, maybe office politics has become too much to bear, or the duties have become stale, and you can do them automatically. But if you are looking for a meaning to life, but you have a job that is, on the face of it, unchallenging, but provides a lot of support in other ways, you might come to the realization that your role isn’t so bad after all.
Changing careers midlife could be exactly what the doctor ordered, but before you take the leap, it is vital that you look at every area of your life and get to the root cause of your current state of malaise. The grass isn’t greener on the other side, and there are always going to be difficulties in any career. So before you jump into another career, and end up feeling exactly the same in 5 or 10 years’ time, be sure to examine your current situation of from a practical sense, do your homework, but also, look at yourself and if your desire to do something else belies something far deeper.