Lose Your Career
Tips for mid-life career changes
Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D
people tell me they feel trapped in a career
after fifteen or twenty happy, productive years.
It's been a good ride, they say, but now it's
time to jump off the train. They want to fulfill
a creative dream, recover from burnout or just
try something new.
career change is both easier and harder than
starting out in the world of work. It's easier
because you have resources to grease the wheels:
savings, equity in your house, and a retirement
fund. On the job you have acquired skills, contacts,
networks and - most important - the experience
the other hand, change is hard because you have
invested in your career identity. In my relocation
book, Making the Big Move (New Harbinger 1999),
I emphasize that moving is stressful because
you have to answer the question, "Will
I be the same person after I move?" You
can expect to face similar questions when you
relocate your career.
assess how your self-concept will change, try
writing the words "I am" ten or twenty
times along the left column of a sheet of paper.
You may be a trial lawyer, mother, arts council
volunteer, and tennis player.
imagine yourself in your new career. What will
your "I am" statements look like?
How will you feel about them? You may rejoice
in a new identity but grieve the loss of another.
I encourage people who contemplate career change
to share the news with five of their closest
friends and colleagues: "I am going to
become a __________." Their reaction is
less important than your ability to make a proud,
bottom line: Career consultants often focus
on matching personal qualities, talents and
values to the business side of a career. Yet
most people find they can master new career
skills considerably faster than they can accept
a new definition of themselves. And the real
or imaginary responses of others - even total
strangers - can kill a career change faster
than a faulty business plan.
who plan answers to, "Who will I be afterwards?"
are more likely to succeed as they cruise along
the winding path of mid-career transition.
Goodwin, Ph.D. Author, Career Coach, Speaker,
helps mid-career, midlife professionals who
want to get on the fast track to career freedom.