Mid Career Guidance

Mid Career Guidance

It’s time for a career change. You’re at the midpoint of life; your first career leaves you bored, empty or wo out. But how do you assess the options, get advice and determine a new path?

You want to do something different but haven’t got a clue. Run an alpaca farm? Join the Peace Corps? Take up sculpture? Launch an Inteet venture? Midlife is also a time to realign work—paid or unpaid—with personal values, a chance to leave your mark on the world.

Career change is a scary business, fraught with obstacles—a resistant spouse, financial conces, fear of failure. Where do you start? What should you consider? Such fears have prevented many a high-achiever from reaching beyond their comfort zone, but the biggest rewards come from taking the biggest risks, says life coach Caroline Adams Miller, author of “Creating Your Best Life” (Sterling2009). “Otherwise, you may be filled with regret at the end of your life—and that prospect helps put steel in your spine,” she says.


That could mean wearing multiple hats—for example, writing, doing public speaking, teaching and consulting. Or it could mean creating a portfolio of work, leisure, volunteering, leaing and travel. In any case, it means finding a customized solution that puts you in control of your life and provides a sense of satisfaction.

Experts in the life-planning field say it’s important to resist the urge to find a quick fix, and to devote sufficient time and energy to doing your homework. Ask the hard questions, get help from friends and colleagues and consult with career counselors, coaches and financial planners for insight, guidance and inspiration.



Here are five tips for getting started, drawn from the What's Next special report, Career change and life balance



1. Understand your priorities and needs.

Who are you and what do you want? Simple questions, but the answers aren’t always easy to find. For those accustomed to achievement, carving out time to do nothing is a challenge. But you need that time to assess what gives you joy, what excites you and fills you with passion.





2. Use a tool or take a test.

Besides taking time out to contemplate your options, there are other ways to jump-start a career switch. In an initial consultation, career coaches and counselors often use tests or comprehensive questionnaires to assess a client’s skills, interests, values and personality traits. You can play career counselor yourself with dozens of self assessment, many of which are available online. Some are free, while   others require a fee and sometimes require evaluation by a trained evaluator. Just don’t expect them to provide all  the answers.





3. Tell your story.

Mining the past for clues is another time-tested way for career changers to find a road map to their future. Writing an autobiography highlighting critical events, influential relationships and significant achievements often leads to surprising revelations. What were the high points in your career that gave you a jolt of energy and pride? What makes you happy? What do you want more or less of in your life?






 4. Call in the pros.

A major career transition may require expert help. Career coaches and counselors can help clients identify skills, set goals and draw up action plans, as well as provide support during the process. Certified Financial planners can help crunch the numbers to make sure the plan is affordable and that retirement is secure. And increasing numbers of planners are adding life-planning skills to their portfolios, so they can help clients with the non-financial aspects of life. With the   right help, you can travel down the road to  reinvention faster, with fewer bumps along the way.






5. Test the waters.

Research indicates that midlife adults are more likely to make successful transitions experientially rather than analytically. The big revelations come from jumping in and trying new things to see what works.Luckily, midlife career-changers have plenty of options. Prospective teachers can substitute in elementary, middle and high-school classrooms to sample work with different age groups and teaching environments. Volunteer at a hospital before applying to nursing school. Take a low-paid job at a plant nursery before signing uap for a horticulture degree. Inteships, sabbaticals, college courses or even brief apprenticeships allow a career-switcher to step out of the daily routine, gain hands-on experience and test-drive that new pathway before quitting a day job.