How to make a successful mid-life career transition
Pivoting your career in mid-life can seem like a daunting prospect, but as career transition coach Hazel Martin explains, it doesn't need to be. She shares her top career change tips.
In the course of my working life I have had several career changes. I’ve switched industries from marketing, then consulting and into the charity sector; from employed, through redundancy to launching my own business; from account management to team leading and business development. All of these changes have been navigated against ever-shifting backdrops in my personal life including marriage, children, the loss of loved ones and changes in my own health and wellbeing.
Through these changes I have experienced first-hand many of the challenges and pitfalls of career transitions. So when I set up my coaching business I knew that I wanted to build upon my own experiences to help women like me making career transitions in mid-life. So often I encounter women who are stuck and frustrated and wondering how to make changes in their own working lives and situations. There are many reasons why women struggle with career change:
- they struggle making the time and motivation to understand the possibilities that lie ahead
- they are holding themselves back through a lack of confidence or imposter syndrome
- they may be overwhelmed by physical challenges including motherhood or the menopause and having trouble sleeping or thinking clearly.
Fortunately for all these challenges help is at hand. There really are simple steps you can take to help clear your mind and focus on what you want and need to do next. Here are my top tips for making a successful mid-life career transition and starting the next stage of your life.
Making a career change can at times feel like running a marathon, especially in later life when you can be dealing with challenges like peri-menopause and the menopause. However, don’t be put off, you can get fit to help you be prepared for change.
Your mindset is everything. If you are struggling to get your brain to deliver for you then help is at hand. Neuroscience has shown that we can literally rewire our brain so we can move from being tired and apathetic to clear-headed, calm and curious. We can silence our inner critics and tap into our wiser self that champions us and acknowledges our skills and abilities. Through daily mental fitness practices you can optimise your mental fitness, better equipping yourself to make the choices and decisions you need to implement the changes that will benefit you.
Your body is important too. Being physically fit and healthy is a key contributor to achieving a healthy mindset. Are you moving enough in the day, taking time to get away from your desk to stretch and move? Are you eating healthily and drinking enough water? Are you taking the time to get outside, to get enough sunlight? Do you have a sleep routine? If the answers to any, or all, of these is no, then you need to take steps to address these.
Not everyone knows exactly what their next career step is going to be. Sometimes the choices can seem overwhelming. To start on your journey you need to reconnect with yourself and remind yourself what makes you happy and unique. Try to dedicate the same time each week to carry out some exercises. Find out more about yourself:
- Ask five work colleagues (past and present) and five friends to describe your strengths
- What are your values? What makes you work in the first place? If you were not paid what would motivate you to get out of bed in the morning? What makes you angry? Values are like your North Star and can guide you to a more fulfilling life.
- What are the skills you enjoy using. Do you need to meet new people? Do you prefer to focus on problems and data? Are you more creative or technical?
It is not all about desk work though. Pay attention to the things you love to do. Maybe try some new things that you have been holding off from. Create an ideas bank, a place to gather ideas of anything and everything that interests you on any given day. This can be a journal, a scrap book, an online collection like Pinterest. Love nature? Bank it. Love cycling? Bank it. Love Cooking? Bank it. Over time these ideas will help build a picture of who you are and what you enjoy.
Once you have a better understanding of what makes you tick it is time to start thinking about the future. Drawing upon your own abilities and creativity you can start to dream about new career possibilities. This is the time to be adventurous and open to new possibilities
What work are you envious of? Speak to people who work in an area that interest or fascinates you. Be curious and do not be afraid to ask stupid questions. Find out what it is really like to work in a particular role, company or area.
The Japanese talk about Ikigai, a reason for being: what you love; what the world needs; what you are good at; what you can get paid for. Your sweet spot is the intersection of all these things.
Explore the ideas you come up with to narrow down to those few that are the most attractive. You can then discover more about what it takes to make your dreams a reality and to build a realistic action plan.
Get an accountability partner. Find someone who’s at the same transitional point in their working life and agree to a regular accountability check. Making a change will be more enjoyable and more likely to succeed if you have someone to do it alongside.
The process of career transitioning can be challenging and frustrating, but trust me when I say it is worth it. A new and satisfying world of work awaits you. The world is full of possibilities.
By Hazel Martin
Hazel is a Mid-Life Career Transition Coach, focusing on helping mid-life women to make a successful mid-life career transition through 1:1 coaching and support in between sessions. You can get in touch with her at firstname.lastname@example.org or https://www.linkedin.com/in/hazelmartinexecutivecoaching/