How to have the most successful midlife career transition and find a more fulfilling, purposeful career you love
You might think career changers are mostly twenty-somethings looking to settle on a forever-career. And you might think it’s too late for you to find your dream job…
But, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average age of people changing career paths is 40!
Before you update your resume and start scrolling popular job boards, take advantage of these 7 secrets for the smoothest, most successful midlife career change.
Why Do People Change Careers?
If you’ve found yourself dissatisfied with your career, you’re not alone. There are a number of reasons people feel the pull to change careers throughout their lifetimes, sometimes even after they’ve spent years working in a particular field.
Some of the most common reasons for mid-life career changes are:
- Time and Money Freedom: One of the primary drivers for career changes is the desire for more money and more time. Sometimes, a career change is the best way to achieve both!
- Career Fulfillment: Humans naturally desire a sense of purpose. When jobs feel meaningless or unfulfilling, many will search for job opportunities that feel more inspiring. More than ever, people want to make a difference and feel like the work they do is meaningful.
- Work-Life Balance: No one wants to feel like they’re constantly juggling the demands of their job and personal life without success. Especially in more demanding fields, people feel often drawn to new careers that offer a sense of balance and flexibility.
- Leadership: People often leave jobs when they feel out of alignment with the style of (or lack of) leadership in their current jobs. Similarly, people also want the opportunity to step into leadership and grow. Without inspiring leadership and opportunities to expand, it’s difficult to be satisfied at any job.
- A Call to Something Greater: Some people simply know they’re meant for more than their current career offers. A sense of calling to a greater purpose can be an important reason to explore new career options. In our experience, that longing is unlikely to go away on its own.
Your own career change may be inspired by one or more of these reasons. But whatever the motivation behind your career transition, rest assured – a midlife career change doesn’t have to be stressful or daunting.
7 Secrets for the Best Midlife Career Change
1. Focus on Transferable Skills
A career change can feel like starting over, especially if you’ve worked in your current job for a long period of time. But the truth is, you aren’t starting from scratch! The more you can leverage your years of experience and transferable skills, the more doors and opportunities you’ll find open for you. Your work experience is a valuable asset, no matter what direction you decide to take.
Don’t underestimate not only the hard, technical skills your current career has given you, but also the soft skills you’ve developed (they’re more in demand than ever!). Consider abilities like: time management, communication, problem-solving, creativity, team work, adaptability, critical thinking, and the like (and be sure to include them on your resume!).
For instance, if you are a social worker or counselor considering becoming a life coach, your skills of empathy, active listening, and the ability to help others understand complex issues will help you get even better results with your clients. Or, your corporate experience might give you insight into how to successfully start and run your own business that others may not have.
2. Take Your Time
Chances are, you don’t need to find a new job as quickly as possible or for survival’s sake. If that’s the case, you can use this time as an opportunity to get clear on what the best next step is for you and your unique circumstances. Your day job can act as a form of security and support while you explore new careers, new opportunities, and new possibilities.
For example, if you’re exploring the life coaching field, you could choose to rely on your current job while you complete life coach training. You might also choose to launch your life coaching business part-time and continue working in your current position while you establish your coaching practice. Or you may even find new, unexpected opportunities become available to you in your current field with the addition of life coach training. The possibilities are endless!
3. Prioritize Your Passion
If you’re considering a mid life career change, this is your chance to put your passion first. The last thing you want is to end up in another job that leaves you unhappy and dissatisfied. Instead of prioritizing what you “should” do, or even what friends and family think is right for you, challenge yourself to lead with passion.
- What do I do best? What am I good at?
- What do I like doing the most? How would I prefer to spend my time?
- What matters most to me in the world? What problems do I feel most strongly about solving or people do I feel most passionate about helping?
Your passion can be found at the intersection of those three things: What you do best, what you like doing best, and the impact you want to have. (Thinking about a life coaching career? Click here to find out if you’re meant to be a life coach!)
4. Envision What You’d Love
One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself in the face of long term changes like a career transition is this: What would I love?
To further amplify the power of that question, use it as a tool to cast a vision for yourself and the ideal career you’re creating for yourself.
Try this: Imagine yourself a year from now, living the reality in which everything has worked out in your favor. Create a clear, specific image of that reality in your mind.. But, instead of focusing on what job you have, focus on how it has impacted your experience of life. Explore how you feel in this reality, how you spend your time on an average day, where you spend your time, and what this new, ideal career has afforded you in terms of time, freedom, flexibility, and income.
The vision you create for what you’d love is a great resource to inform your ongoing decisions and help you move closer to your dream. It can keep you from falling into the trap of “should”!
5. Redefine Success
You may have started your career journey with certain goals and aspirations in mind. Over the course of your career, you may have realized that what you believed was important wasn’t actually what you wanted to prioritize. Or, perhaps achieving certain goals didn’t bring as much satisfaction or joy as you expected.
The good news is, “success” is 100% subjective and its definition for your life is within your control.
In fact, a mid life career change is the perfect time to explore what success really means to you. Rather than going after what society says is “successful” or even outward symbols of status, take some time to explore:
- What do I value and want more of in my life?
- What do outward symbols of success, like more money or a larger house, really represent for me? (for example: freedom, respect, security, etc.)
- If I were truly successful, how would that feel? What feelings would I have that would indicate to me that I was experiencing success?
Then, as you consider your next career move, look for opportunities that help bring more of those feelings and experiences into your life. For example, if success involves finding joy in helping others, satisfaction knowing you’re making a difference in the world, and the freedom to create your own schedule, life coaching might be the perfect career for you!
6. Adopt a Growth Mindset
A growth mindset is rooted in the belief that each of us can cultivate our best qualities, skills, and talents over time. Approaching your career change from the perspective that challenges can be overcome and you can learn to master new skills is essential! After all, the career you’d love may require you to stretch into your potential or face new challenges- and that’s a good thing!
From this perspective, “failure” is an opportunity, not an experience that defines you or your capabilities. In the same vein, closing the door on one career and exploring another is an opportunity to lean into growth and evolution. This mindset will help propel you through the challenges of this kind of big life transition.
When you come from the foundation of growth, you can do anything you desire!
7. Bet on Yourself
If you were to approach your career transition with the assumption that you were already capable and successful- a winning bet– what would you do differently? What risks would you take? What jobs would you apply for or training would you enroll in? How would you advocate for yourself and what support would you ask for in the process?
Your perception has an unquestionable impact on the choices you make and the actions you take- especially your perception of yourself. Use this time of transition as an opportunity to “act as if” and make moves that reflect an unshakeable belief in your future success… even if you don’t feel that way yet!
Are You Meant to Be a Life Coach?
At Brave Thinking Institute, we’ve supported and certified thousands of now-successful life coaches, many of whom have transitioned from other careers. Our coaches were once nurses, teachers, counselors, social workers, and executive assistants.
They found themselves overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated at their jobs… and they just couldn’t shake the feeling that they were meant for more than the thankless, day-to-day grind and relentless stress of their day jobs.
If you relate, and you’ve considered coaching as a possible career move, I have the perfect resource to help you get the clarity you need to know whether becoming a life coach is the dream career you’ve been longing for. The path to a more fulfilling, purposeful life can start here!