For many Americans, feeling dissatisfied or unhappy at work has been a way of life for a long time. In fact, more than half of U.S. workers are unhappy in their jobs, and one of the reasons most people stay in jobs where they don’t feel fulfilled is because they simply aren’t sure what else they can do. If you’ve been in a job for many years or you feel like you’re “too old” to switch careers, you’re not alone. Even career success coach and leadership developer Kathy Caprino had this to say about her previous job:
“Because for a good part of my 18 years in my corporate life (the last two years of which were totally toxic and debilitating), my work made me feel sick, sad and lost. While highly ‘successful’ on the outside (as a VP with a big job), on the inside I felt my work devoid of all meaning, passion and joy. Try as I might, I just couldn’t figure out what else to do or how to change directions.”
Now Kathy encourages her clients to dig deeper to determine what they really want out of a career at any age. Nowadays, you don’t need to find yourself stuck in a career that doesn’t give you what you need. Instead, more people are turning to jobs that allow them to live out their passions while finding emotional and financial fulfillment.
If you’re ready to make a change, follow your passion, and start down a career path that gives you what you need, it’s never too late. Let’s look at a few ways to make the career transition easier.
Understanding Your True Purpose
Changing your career because you’re unhappy with your current one may only be part of the puzzle. Simply put, you should have a strong understanding of what you truly want before you decide to make a jump. For some people, your purpose may have nothing to do with your career. Is your passion something that needs to be monetized in order for you to be happy? Is it even possible for it to be monetized? Sometimes, you may just need to spend more time focusing on that passion outside of work, rather than trying to turn it into a career that might not work.
But, if you do feel as though your passions and your career can (and should) overlap, it’s important to go about making that transition the right way.
Some people have a “fear of aging” that includes worries like missing out on milestones, feeling that you’re contributing less, or fearing death. That’s why it’s so important to have a job that feels fulfilling and satisfying. It can help you to reduce your stress levels and your anxieties. So, focus less on “job hopping” until you think you’ve found a good fit. In fact, doing so can contribute even more stress and unhappiness. Instead of hopping around and hoping to find a job that fulfills you, look internally before you make a career switch. What is important to you? What do you think would give you that fulfillment? When you start with those answers on your job search, it will take less time and the process will be less stressful.
If you’re trying to change careers in your later years, there are unfortunately some obstacles to consider, from the practical to the personal.
In a practical sense, you should consider what you might be giving up with a career change. For example, if you start working somewhere new and they offer insurance, you may no longer be eligible for government insurance programs like Medicare, which is offered to individuals over the age of 65. You might also initially be giving up some of your free time. When you start at a new job, you may not get the same benefits right away, including vacation days.
It’s also important to think about the personal issues you might have to face as you start something new. Unfortunately, many older individuals lack confidence for a variety of reasons. You might think you don’t have the skills to keep up with the younger generation, or you just might feel as though you’re “too old” to start something new. Overcoming those obstacles can help you to ignore that negative inner voice in order to fully pursue your passion. Some strategies to boost your confidence include:
- Visualizing what you want
- Stepping out of your comfort zone
- Changing/improving your image
- Setting goals (and achieving them!)
- Determining your values
- Helping others
Working on your confidence levels can help you to fully embrace your passions and dive into a new career with excitement and drive, rather than wondering if you’ve made the right move.
Finding a Career That Drives You
It’s never a good idea to allow yourself to feel “stuck” in a career, no matter your age. If you’re getting older, don’t let the fear of starting something new hold you back from finding a career that fulfilled you. If you’re passionate about something, talk to people in that industry! Talking to people who are already doing things you want to do can bolster your confidence and give you inside information on how to get started.
Additionally, learn how to make yourself (and your resume) stand out. With age comes experience. Even if you don’t necessarily have a lot of experience in the particular career you’re looking at, there are still ways to boost your resume, including:
- Quantifying your experience and achievements
- Avoiding general statements
- Proofreading again and again
You may even want to consider hiring a professional resume writer if you’re stuck on how to make your resume get the attention it deserves.
By determining what your true passions really are and taking the right steps to start your journey toward them, it’s never too late to change careers and find fulfillment in what you do.
Frankie Wallace is a freelance writer in Boise, ID. Ever since graduating the University of Montana with a degree in English, she spends her spare time gardening and cuddling with her cat, Casper.
Image courtesy of CoWomen.