Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Do you Consider Midlife Career Change?

Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines and sail away from the safe harbor.
Mark Twain

Why Midlife Career Changes?

Midlife can be a time of transition for many people. Children have grown up and left home, parents may be nearing the end of their lives, 20 or so years in a job may mean boredom. And, of course, there is the natural movement towards considering the meaning of your life, a review of your values and possibly a questioning of some decisions you've previously made. The life you have built for yourself so that you can be comfortable may not actually be the life of your dreams. Typically at this stage, the idea of midlife career changes raises its head.

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Basically, there are two main reasons for men to change their careers during midlife transition.

1. One is that midlife career changes may be more satisfying and fulfilling than what's going on right now. Many people think that it would allow them to be more themselves or express themselves in a different way.

This scenario leads to midlife career changes, and initially the results of the achieved career changes look very promising. Everything is new and different. But eventually, usually after pretty short period of time, the individuals begin to express themselves in the very similar ways in their new job functions as well. The same patterns begin to emerge and life gets back on a track which was abandoned by the changes, but not entirely in most cases.

2. The second reason is that the men have experience some kind of spiritual awakening, or substantial shift in awareness, of who they actually are. Based on this experience, they look for a possible transition into doing something that is more aligned with who they are becoming.

In this case, men first tend to develop very strong internal awareness of themselves. Then they apply adequate decision making process to target the things and activities to be doing. This approach causes your new career and activities to lead to the emotional strengthening, great satisfaction, and spiritual awareness.

Getting Out of the Comfort Zone

It is said that people advance their professional and intellectual level when they are out of the comfort zone. It is important to understand that each day you remain at a job you don’t love because the money is good you fall farther behind on your long-term quest for financial freedom.

Making a mid-life career change is a lot harder than making a career change when you are young. You’ve got a lot more to lose because you have already worked your way a good bit up the ladder of success at the career you are in today.

Your financial compensation is only part of the total pay package you obtain from the work you do. More important in a long-term sense is what you learn from doing the job. Your paycheck represents your day-to-day profits. The skills you develop are the result of your long-term research and development project. If you are missing out on the learning experience that is part of the typical middle-class worker’s complete pay package, you are missing out on something of great significance. Most of us are only in the workforce for 40 to 45 years. So, if you pass up five years of learning while you stick with a “good enough” job, you are falling behind in a big way.

Don’t let the financial risks of changing jobs cause you to stay too long at a job that no longer offers much long-term excitement or potential. The financial risks of staying at a job where you are not continuing to learn are often greater than the financial risks of making a well-planned move to something you enjoy more.

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Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow

There is a good bit of wisdom in the “Do What You Love” maxim. It really is true that the most financially rewarding jobs go to those doing work that so motivates them that they possess the energy to become the absolute best at what they do.

All that said, the “Do What You Love” maxim does not address a critical consideration that you must take into account when planning a mid-life career change. When will the money follow? If you don’t get a reliable income stream in place in time, you might not be able to stick it out long enough at the new career to see the benefits of doing what you love ever generate real-world financial profits for you.

It is a good idea to aim to do what you love. But knowing what you love and developing the courage to chase the dream is not enough. You need to have a plan in place before making a mid-life career change. Not just a career plan. You need a financial plan to protect you from the downside risks you take on in making such a dramatic life transition.

Monet is still Important

There are lots of work issues that need to be taken into account in putting together a plan for a mid-life career change. You need to take tests to learn what sorts of things you are best equipped to do. You need to talk to people now working in the career you hope to enter to see whether jobs in that field are as enjoyable to those on the inside as they appear to be to those on the outside. But no matter how much you do of that sort of thing, you have not done enough to take the risk involved in handing in a resignation from your current job in pursuit of a mid-life career change.

Doing that sort of thing is not enough because, no matter how much you plan, you will never be able to anticipate every possible future development that will affect your job satisfaction years down the road. Jump to a new career without putting a financial plan into place to smooth out both the current and future transitions, and there is a good chance that a few years down the road you will be back in the same sorts of circumstances that caused you to want to make the first mid-life career change.

Even career changes that are successful in the short-term are often not so successful after a number of years pass by. You must explore new career options if you are dissatisfied with the career you are in today. But you must also accumulate the financial resources that will open up options for future changes. Otherwise, you may find yourself five or ten years from now as dissatisfied as you are today but also five or ten years older.

True Source of Job Dissatisfaction

If you look deep enough in yourself and your working environment, you might discover a surprising fact that it is not actually bad boss that caused you to abandon your current career. It is also not a bad corporate culture or frustrating economy. It’s you!

There are of course might be multiple real objective reasons that may play significant role in causing you to be dissatisfied in your career. But in most cases those outside forces are not the primary factor in causing job dissatisfaction, and it is important for you to understand what the primary factor is if you hope to pull off a successful mid-life career change.

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Setting Goals at Mid-Life

While the idea of midlife career changing sounds appealing and promising, in practice, it is accompanying with multiple roadblocks and complications. Men, at these years, still have to be a main family support, financial, psychological, and physical. You may say that such a role model is not so important in our modern society anymore. Yes and no, because the psychological, cultural, and societal changes are not as fast as the technological or economic. Therefore, for most men it is still an issue in their heads, no matter what their partners think or say, and how much women add to the family budget.

Being at midlife stage for people also mean belonging to the so called “sandwich generation”, when they have to take an active care on children from one side and elderly parents on another. For many, changing the career for a “dream one” can be an unachievable goal, adding to the frustration and depression.

For men, dealing with disappointments in their careers can be considered as one of the most difficult aspects of middle age. In his book The Male Ego, Willard Gaylin, M.D., says that when men in our culture commit suicide (which they do almost eight times as frequently as women), in most cases the reason is “perceived social humiliation” related to business failure.

A “reorganization of life goals” is one of midlife’s principal tasks, says Gilbert Brim, Ph.D., a social psychologist who heads the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Mid-Life Development in Vero Beach, Florida. For anyone who feels frustrated by his professional progress so far, Dr. Brim recommends a three-step process of career re-evaluation in his book Ambition: How We Manage Success and Failure Throughout Our Lives.

1. Extend the deadline. Many of us set arbitrary deadlines for ourselves, Dr. Brim says, and then grow despondent when we’ve failed to meet them in the time allotted. The simple solution is to grant yourself a reasonable extension. “You can tell yourself, ‘Okay, I didn’t get rich this year. I’ll make it next year,’” says Dr. Brim.
2. Lower your aspiration. This is another instance of relieving self-induced pressure. Shoot for making a hundred thousand dollars instead of ten million, Dr. Brim says, or buy a cozy cottage on the beach instead of that 12-room Victorian you’ve always dreamed of. One of the signs of midlife maturity is accepting limitations.

3. Abandon the goal. That might sound strange, but when all else fails, Dr. Brim says, give up on a goal that’s not achievable. Again, an ability to accept reality is key to successful midlife transitions. The goal is peace of mind, not winning some sweepstakes you’ve created for yourself.

Similar exercises work, Dr. Brim adds, for those who have achieved their goals and still feel dissatisfied-a group that is a lot larger than you probably think. In this case the first alternative would be finding a new, more ambitious goal to achieve; alternative two would be switching to a new pursuit entirely. “Linus Pauling is a perfect example of that,” Dr. Brim says. “After winning the Nobel Prize in chemistry, he switched to being a world-peace leader.”

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What Next?

Making such midlife career changes assessments affects how you consider the remainder of your life. No longer is growing old associated with all the so-called negative stuff, the changing body, the slowing down, and so on. Instead there is a pleasure in simply being alive. You actually get more creative. Neuroscientific studies show that the right and left sides of the brain integrate even more fully in midlife. Much research shows that the ageing brain actually grows stronger from use and challenge. As people age, many negative emotions seem to be dampened. Many inhibitions are reduced or disappear altogether.

You get to do those things that you have always dreamed of... you begin to live the life that you should be living, the one that is your own...

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