The American Midlife Career Crisis

10 Oct

Rarely does a week pass that a former colleague, client, or friend doesn’t bring up the idea of changing careers after more than twenty years in their chosen field. Equally as often, I come across articles that discuss the need for people to reinvent themselves or their careers either by choice or necessity.

So what should you be doing to prepare yourself should that time come?

Always Be Self-Educating
With the advent of Web 2.0 we no longer need to pay a lot of money to take courses and training seminars. There is a wealth of free knowledge at our fingertips. Identify thought leaders in your field(s) of interest and read what they’ve written. Watch their videos, participate in their webinars, follow their blogs, and search the Internet for all of the wonderful online self-educating tools available.

Be Connected
Having a LinkedIn profile with 300+ connections isn’t the same as being connected. LinkedIn is one of the best tools out there to develop your professional identity and brand. It’s not enough to build a database of “connections.” You need to participate in discussion forums, send congratulation messages when your connections are promoted, and participate in the exchange of best practices. Actively participate in this professional business community. It’s no longer just an electronic rolodex of past and current colleagues and their contact information.

Continue to Improve Your Skills
Time doesn’t stand still and neither does a skilled marketplace. Identify the areas you are skilled in and develop them further. Create a game plan for your path to improvement. It may be as simple as reading books by a respected author, participating in a professional association’s conference programming, or participating in an industry webinar series. Move your skills from good to great.

Develop Your Free Resources
If you’ve identified some potential industries or positions that you find interesting, identify people in those fields and reach out to them. Ask them to share their insights and experiences. See if they will allow you to “shadow” them for a few days to see what their jobs are really like. If you don’t know anyone in that field, use your LinkedIn connections for introductions. If you’re actively working LinkedIn, you might be surprised who is connected to whom.

Elevate Your Thinking
Don’t assume that by changing career paths that you have to start at the “bottom” of the ladder. Identify your skills that are transferrable to your new career interest and elevate your thinking to pursue mid-level or upper-level entry into the field. It is very common for “industry outsiders” to see things with a fresh perspective and a willingness to try new methods of improvement or problem solving.

Find Your Self-Confidence
The most challenging aspect of changing careers midlife is finding your self-confidence to do so. With so many years of experience in your current field and presumed success, it is scary to start something new. At the same time, it is energizing, invigorating, and exciting.

Life’s too short to not love what you do!

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