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Work & Money

How to Make a Midlife Career Change

It’s never too late.

Kandia Johnson

Chances are if you’re thinking about making a mid-life career change, you have a slew of responsibilities stopping you from taking the leap. From credit-card debt and housing costs to student loans and childcare — you have a gazillion reasons why the timing isn’t right. On top of everything else, there’s a fear of failure and uncertainty that’s making you feel stuck.

Believe me, I get it. Five years ago I was trapped in an emotionally draining and unfulfilling career. And for the first quarter of my life, I was in between thoughts about what would people think about me and what if I failed. So I committed to not making a move until I was 100 percent certain.

But here’s the thing: Certainty is the enemy of growth. Although your feelings and reasons may be valid, clarity comes from action, not thought.

While I don’t have any regrets about quitting my job, I sat around too long gazing at my vision board without a clear plan for turning my dreams into reality. The good news is, when it comes to satisfying your mid-career itch, you’re not alone. Typically, people change jobs 10 to 15 times in their lifetime. So, here are five steps to get you started in the right direction.

Unlearn outdated beliefs and habits that are no longer true for your life.

Beliefs are not facts. Most of us form our beliefs based on our childhood and past experiences, but at any time you have the power to change your belief system. Most importantly, stop allowing the actions and expectations of others to define your reality. Change your perception about what you are capable of and free yourself from society's age-related pressures.

Define success on your own terms.

Having a growth mindset and clear career vision can help you pick a career that suits you. Clarity enables you to set powerful intentions for your daily actions. Visualize your workspace and daily routine. What does success look like for you? What does it feel like? What do you value more than money? What are your non-negotiables for your work life?

Do your research.

The reality is, your new potential career may seem fulfilling, fun and rewarding, but there may be a side to the new job that you can’t see. Beyond a learning curve, there may be changes in your work environment and income. Sometimes your desire for a career change isn’t based on your needs; it’s based on the market. Get the inside scoop about the education requirements, economic outlook and market needs in your new industry so you can make a well-informed decision.

Embrace vulnerability.

Identify areas you need to work on, ask questions and put your ego aside so you can try new things. Are you willing to start over at the bottom of the career ladder, make a lateral move or even take a pay cut to learn more about your ideal career? Use this time to realistically identify the new experiences that you’d like to have in your career. What are the skills, talents and abilities you’ll need to master to get there? How will it affect your lifestyle and relationships? What are your sacrifices, investments and risk? What do you need to do more of? What do you need to do less of to get where you want to be?

Grow your network and strengthen your relationships.

When trying to break into a new career path, relationships are currency. You create relationship currency by getting to know people in and out of your field. You can strengthen those relationships by sharing ideas or resources with them, attending their events or collaborating on a project. Before you take the leap, reach out to your network, explain your desire to change career paths and ask them to do a virtual intro to someone who may be able to offer job leads or real world advice about working in your desired new career.

Ultimately, it’s not enough to sit around praying for success; you have to plan for it. What's one step you can take today to create a new reality for yourself?

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