We’ve all heard of the “mid-life crisis”. More recently ‘mid-twenties’ crisis has even become a thing. We use these terms to describe someone who has reached a point in their life where they feel the need for change. Sometimes, these changes are out of the blue, and far from what the person in question or anyone else expects. Hence, the label of crisis.
In truth though, these times of change are when we’re most in tune with ourselves. They are when we face our dissatisfactions head on, and consider how we could get closer to the lives we want. Some people allay such feelings by dyeing their hair a different color, of getting a new car. For others, though, the need for change runs deeper. In these cases, an individual’s scrutiny will often fall on their career.
Our jobs form a huge part of our lives. The majority of us spend more time working than anything else. As such, it makes sense that we lose patience with jobs that don’t set our hearts racing. It’s not uncommon for individuals to crave career changes in their later years. After all, we are always changing and evolving as people. A career which was perfect for you in your early twenties may not suit anymore. If you think this is the case, it’s important to permit yourself to make a change.
But, career changes in later life aren’t always easy. When you’re young, you have a variety of options. You can jump in and out of careers until you find one that suits and no one judges you for doing so. When you’re older, the path to a new career can’t be so erratic. Short stretches in a variety of jobs will do real damage to your resume. Plus, bills and commitments mean that it wouldn’t be practical.
Instead, your career change needs to be a thought through, and careful process. Before you entertain the idea of handing in your notice, make sure you know where you intend to go. The best way to work that out is to ask yourself a few crucial questions. The exact content of those questions will vary from person to person, but this list should form a good starting point for anybody.
What incited the change?
First, you need to know what caused your desire for change. Without getting to the bottom of this, you’ll find it near enough impossible to progress. To start with, make sure it is your career that’s causing dissatisfaction. When we’re unhappy with our lives, we often focus on the wrong areas for improvement. If you let a general dissatisfaction pull you away from a career you love, you’ll soon regret it. So, think carefully about where your main unhappiness lies. If it’s elsewhere, try solving those issues before focusing on your job.
And, the work doesn’t stop there. If your main unhappiness is your job, there are still things to consider. You need to work out why your current career makes you unhappy. It’s the only way to ensure your new one can bring a higher level of happiness. Sometimes, we like our jobs but don’t get along with the people we work with. Other times, it’s the nature of the work that doesn’t suit. Perhaps you’ve been locked in an office for years, and want the chance to work outside. Write down a list of all the things you dislike about your job, and rate each point regarding importance. Return to this time and again while deciding a new career.
What do you want to get from the change?
It’s also important you consider what you want to achieve from the change. Are you looking for a job with more satisfaction or a role with less responsibility? Again, determining this is crucial to ensure happiness. The types of career which would suit vary widely depending on these factors. For example, a care job would be ideal for someone looking for satisfaction, but wouldn’t suit someone looking for an easy life. It’ll help if you keep in mind the list of downsides you’ve written about your current career. By looking at these, you should be able to see common themes which will lead you closer to your goal. If both long hours and stress factor, you can be sure you’re looking for an easier life. If a lack of respect is a common theme, it may be time to consider a management role instead.
What is your skill set?
Now that you have a better understanding of how to achieve your happiness, it’s time to consider your skill set. You probably expect to have a pretty good grasp on this by now, but you may find that it’s more elusive than you think. We often speak about skills and strengths when we’re young, but we rarely consider them when we’re older. As such, you may find that your mind draws a blank when you get to this stage. Don’t worry. Practice patience, and approach this as though for the first time.
Start with the basics. Are you an extrovert, or an introvert? This should be something you already know quite well about yourself, so it’s a good place to get going. It’s also important to get this out of the way. An extrovert would thrive in say, a teaching role, while an introvert wouldn’t get along. At the same time, an introvert would operate well in a job such as writing, while an extrovert would hate it! So, do you like being in front of the crowd, or would you rather work in isolation?
It’s also worth considering whether you’re an academic or a practical person. This is probably something you haven’t thought about since leaving school, but it’s important. Even if you used to hate the classroom, consider where you are now. It may be that you have more appreciation for academia than you once did. Or, perhaps life has taught you that keeping your head in books isn’t the best way forward.
If you’re willing to give academia another go, consider returning to education. This is a sure way to make a good amount of money at entry level in your new career. That said, more practical individuals can gain qualifications in other ways. If you want to give something like mechanics a go, you could always study an online course, like this masters of engineering. That way, you can get stuck straight in, and still rest easy that you’ll earn a decent wage at the end of it. Think hard about which option would suit you best.
It’s also worth considering whether you’re a leader or a worker. Perhaps you shied away from management when you were younger because you lacked confidence. But, your experience in the working world may have changed that. If you have a craving for leadership, you’ll find it difficult to flourish under someone else’s command. But, if you prefer to get your head down and do someone else’s work, management could be a bad choice.
How can you use your experience?
You should now be much closer to knowing the right path to go down, and may even have a few career ideas floating around. Good for you. But, now starts the hard work of breaking through and making people in your chosen field take note. If you’re going down the qualification route, you’ve already got this covered. If not, you need to think of another way in.
Spend a little time thinking about what you’ll include on your new resume. We all know that your success hinders on what you include in the ‘previous experience’ section. But, when changing jobs, this can be a tough issue to get around. Your new career choice may, after all, be the complete opposite of what you’re doing at the moment. As such, it looks from the outside as though your experience will be no good. But, that’s far from the case. All you need to do is get creative with how you present it.
The best thing to do would be to consider any similarities you can find. All workplaces have certain things in common. Simple things, like handling money, dealing with the public, and fronting business meetings, are worth mentioning. If you’re applying for a management role, draw on situations where you had to take control. You could even talk about the close relationship you have with your current boss, and how they’ve inspired you. Anything that makes you look like a plausible candidate is worth using!
What’s your time frame?
As you can see from the above, it’s easy to get caught in the process of choosing a new career. Make sure to keep your momentum going by setting yourself a strict deadline. You don’t want to push yourself, but you also don’t want to be considering this in two years time. Be realistic, by giving yourself a year or so. Then, work hard to get out of your job by that date!