Career Take 2
Career Take 2

Career Take 2

 

By:

Nancy T. Bell
Nancy T. Bell
CFP®, CDFA™, CSRIC™

Wealth Advisor
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Career Take 2

How to reinvent yourself midlife.

The second half of your life can be better than the first. This is the encouraging reality for those of us who feel stuck in the muddled middle of our lives. Perhaps you feel trapped in the doldrums of a job you no longer relish. Your passion has ebbed. Your sense of purpose is all but gone. You have lost momentum and are just going through the motions.

If you are in a mid-life funk and afraid to make a change, take heart. You have the capability to redefine yourself.

The great sage Confucius and other Chinese philosophers tell us that there is no one essential self that we need to find and then remain for our entire life. Rather, we can change our selves, constantly forming and reforming who we are as we react and adapt to people and circumstances.

We’re not used to hearing this perspective, but it can be very helpful for those of us who are facing the second half of our life, and wanting to change our job or start a new career.

Starting Over at Midlife

Our youth-obsessed culture makes us feel that at 50 we’re too old to start all over again. The prevailing question is “Who’s going to hire me?” If you were a stay-at-home mom, for instance, years out of the workforce may make you feel unqualified. If you are in a successful career, your perceived salary expectations may work against you.

The thought of repackaging yourself is no doubt terrifying. But it’s doable — and oftentimes rewarding.

How do I go about doing that? While everyone takes a unique route, here are a few essential guidelines.

Look Before You Leap

The first step, though patently obvious, is to look before you jump. Make sure that you’re being realistic. In my opinion, the “do what you love and money will come” approach is somewhat of a myth, unless you are literally someone who is unhinged to material comforts and financial security. This idealistic approach doesn’t work for most people who look to live comfortably in their later years. Most hobbies are not lucrative enough to sustain a desired lifestyle. I frequently encounter people who want me to tell them that they can afford to retire now when, in fact, they need paid work over the next 10 – 15 years in order to prepare financially for retirement. This is where updating your financial plan to include your dreams and goals can be a valuable first step.

Get Clear about What Is Most Important to You

When you make a mid-life career shift, you may have to rethink your core values, because over the years, you’ve compromised those values in order to fit into your current job or career. In the midst of the battle, particularly when you are in a job that is miserable, your value system gets skewed by the culture you live in. You’re told promotions, bonuses, and titles are important, and you begin to believe it.

Find Out Where Your Values and Skills Intersect

Once your values are in place, make a list. First, identify your strongest skills, and then identify the things that light you up in your current position. Then, make another list of the deal breakers—things y