Why not launch a new you this year?

With a number of friends looking for new opportunities—and each of them near to or over fifty—I’ve been able to participate in quite a few exhilarating conversations about what they want from the next several years of their work lives.

The biggest questions we’re chatting about:

  • What’s next? The world is open to me, I can do anything I want to do in it.
  • Why not walk a new path this year? My shoes are tired of treading the same old same old.
  • Who said we had to be the same, stay the same, keep doing the same job day after every day of our lives forever? My heart has always yearned to try _____.

The Millennials already know that leaving jobs every two or three years is not necessarily a negative. But us Baby Boomers retain our parents’ attitude toward work. Bless their generation for the ethic they instilled of sticking to a job—it’s served us well—however, the world is not the same for us at fifty as it was for them at fifty.

We have more options, more abilities to alter our lives and try new things. There’s no longer a stigma to plunging into a different endeavor—as if people will think we’ve lost our minds because we’re finally taking a year to join the Peace Corp. Okay, it might take a bit of convincing where your family is concerned, or not, if they know you well.

With the internet, there are multiple ways to change things—from taking the one-off oddball class that could open your horizons, to graduating from college via an online university.

The internet makes it possible to keep our worlds from staying small and assists in us ever-broadening our horizons. My father was a retired steel worker. When he asked me to show him a computer in 1995, it didn’t take him long to be fully hooked. When cable made its way to rural Pennsylvania (dead-end roads included), dad bought his first HP and conquered multiple programs. He got on Classmates and found friends he hadn’t seen since high school graduation in 1951 and Army buddies he’d lost track of.

With the arrival of Google Earth, we took a tour of Oahu and dad pointed out his barracks and beaches he participated in judo training on, thrilled with the discovery–thrilled with sharing that personal history with his daughter. He’d have been wild about Facebook, but died in 2009 as the platform was just reaching non-university folks.

Had dad any interest or desire in starting a new career—well, he did take up woodworking and many folks purchased the results—the internet would have been the key to a choice vastly different from building railroad cars.

Realizing you have choices is the first, best way to decide to make a change.

A less comfortable way to be moving forward is to be confronted with the infamous fickleness of a corporation downsize. The “strategic reorganizations” (is “strategic” really word they should use?) and lay-offs that many of us have faced—whether given advanced notice or having it hit you out of the blue—can be earth shattering. Whatever impact your wages made in your household, that money is gone.

This can also be the opportunity for you to ask, What now, with excitement rather than trepidation.

If you’ve been deluding yourself through life until now, you may finally have begun to recognize your mortality. Sometimes it takes until fifty for us to realize life is short. That realized, most decidedly, time to stop being unhappy in an unsatisfying career.

Laid off or simply ready for a different challenge, your household situation might be the determining factor in how you approach the next steps. You maybe be single, self-supportive, without kids. You may be the spouse of the bread-winner. You may be the person your family relies upon for income. Your kids could be independent, no longer living with mom and/or dad.

It’s time to think about:

  • Should I get a job in the same industry?
  • Is there a career connected to what I’ve done where my skills would be useful?
  • Do I want to do something completely differently this time?
  • I may be alive for another forty years, working for another fifteen (or more), where do I want to channel my efforts?
  • What do I love? Is there a way to earn a living connected with it?
  • What do I hate? How can I avoid it in the future?
  • Am I an extrovert or an introvert, and how can I use my dominant trait to my advantage?
  • Am I security-minded, leaning toward the well-traversed path? Or am I an entrepreneur, willing to start my own venture?
  • Have I always been in the corporate world, but find I’m drawn to a non-profit?
  • What am I afraid of? How can that fear be conquered?
  • If I pursue an alternative career, what is the worst that can happen?

I’ve been changing occupations my whole life—retail management, personnel placement, human resources, consulting, administrative—because the sole career I ever wanted to pursue was writing. The only continuous thing I have done throughout my multi-careers is write. I’ve constantly written for myself, finished four novels (one a truly novice attempt, two begging for re-writes and the last being queried). For employers, I’ve written everything from training manuals to policies and procedures to job ads and employment letters.

Now I’m writing for me. For you. Daily. Hourly. I’m spewing out short stories for contests, querying my novel, writing the sequel, improving the depth and breadth of my blogs.

What is the worst that can happen? I never earn any income from writing? I’ve already sold a number of Travel Journals—if you have an upcoming trip check them out—which is a huge boost to both ego and pocketbook. The worst thing has already been conquered, with many more income possibilities on the horizon.

What about you? How have you handled employment circumstances imposed upon you? Or have you already, like people I know, made the decision to change things and reinvented your life? What have the results been?

And, what’s next?

Careers not pursued…

 

Note: This is an expanded and  re-written post from a few years ago.