Midlife Career Change–And Other Times, Too

The phrase “midlife career change” is nothing new. It’s something that’s been occurring for decades, maybe even centuries. However, there are some aspects these days that might make career change–midlife or otherwise–more challenging or at least challenging in different ways than in the past.

Midlife Career Change–What’s Involved

Two broad scenarios can apply to these situations. Either you’re considering a career change voluntarily or it’s being forced on you by external circumstances beyond your control. Some considerations apply in both cases. For instance:

  • When–how fast, etc.–does the change need to happen?
  • What economic factors must be taken into account?
  • Who do you know that might be willing and able to help in some way?

If you’re contemplating a voluntary change, you might also need to think about aspects such as the following:

  • How sure am I that I need to make a change? Am I just reacting to a temporary situation out of frustration?
  • If I’m sure it’s needed, how much time and effort (and maybe money) am I willing and able to invest in making it happen?
  • Who else will be affected by the change and has a right to be involved in the decision one way or another?

Career Change at Any Point

Whether change is self-initiated or directed by others–and whether it happens in your 20s, 30s or later–it involves choices and decisions that aren’t always clear-cut. Some of them get tougher as you get older. For instance, you might be competing with younger job seekers who have knowledge and skills you haven’t needed to know until now. On the other hand, you might have experience that can translate really well into the new field and help you gain an edge over them. That’s something you have to determine and find ways to make your advantages work for you as strongly as possible to offset the perceived disadvantages.

When you’re younger, you might have more flexibility in making changes, because much of your potential earning time still lies ahead and changes might be somewhat easier to make than they will be later on. However, with the increasingly rapid pace of external change (particularly technology and its effect on the world of work), even younger workers could face some daunting challenges when making a career change.

Who’s In Control of Your Career Change?

Essentially, you need to assess the situation, evaluate your options, and make whatever decisions you can about how, when, and if you should proceed. If  the career change is involuntary, you could also find it necessary to overcome the negative feelings you’re experiencing because of that. Trying to move forward before you deal with those feelings can be an uphill battle and take longer than if you get on top of things first. The key point is to be able to put as much thought and energy into the forward-momentum planning and execution of your career change as possible, regardless of whose idea it was.

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