Are you fed up with the path your career has taken as of late? Do you feel frustrated and blocked from what you really want to do? Is your work draining you of energy and enthusiasm?
If you answered, "yes" to any of the questions above, this is a sign that you are due for a change. As we mature into midlife and beyond, we have a greater urgency to achieve a sense of satisfaction from our work. Our intrinsic values take on more meaning and we begin to think in terms of finding fulfillment from within.
Should you be thinking along these lines, it is time to start asking yourself the big questions.
- Are you pursuing the right goals for who you are today? Why/why not?
- What have you always wanted to do but haven't yet had the time or the chance to pursue?
- What did you like most about your previous job(s)?
- Which aspects of your work did you dislike and want to avoid in the future?
- What are the opportunities a career change might provide you?
- What are some obstacles you could find moving forward?
- How might you best overcome these potential roadblocks?
- What do you want to be doing five or ten years from now?
You will also want to get very clear on the values you hold at this time of your life.
- Are elements like teamwork and a sense of belonging important to you?
- Do you value self-expression, creativity and innovation?
- Is it important that you contribute to the greater good of society?
- Are you looking for challenge, leadership opportunities and decision-making responsibility?
- Do you require a sense of autonomy and independence from your work?
Identify and prioritize your needs and wants in a practical sense as well.
- What is your desired salary?
- Which benefits are most important to you and others in your household?
- How far are you willing to commute?
- How much of your time are you willing to devote to travel?
Pinpoint the work environment that best suits your personality.
- Are you a people person who thrives on a large amount of social interaction? (If so, you will wither away in a back office with limited people contact.)
- Do you need solitary time to generate ideas and work independently? (Should that be the case, you will want to be certain you will have periods throughout your day when you can get off by yourself to reflect and recharge.)
- Are you a structured person who dislikes last-minute changes and constant revisions? (Make sure that your work environment is fairly structured, too. Otherwise you will feel your sense of order is being threatened and you may become irritable and out of sorts.)
As you contemplate a new career path, it is crucial that you get a crystal clear picture as to the elements of work that are important to you now. Prioritize your values, wants and needs, and write up a list. Then, once you achieve a sense of inner clarity, you can start exploring various options available to you in the workplace. By knowing what you want first, you will have an internal benchmark from which you can make an educated career choice.
The word, "enthusiasm" comes from the Greek meaning "God within." As we age and gain greater perspective in life, aligning with our inner truth and authenticity becomes even more important. Our work is one of the foremost ways we express ourselves and share our gifts. Therefore, midlife is the perfect time to reassess, refocus, explore options and start taking action.
If enthusiasm for your own work is waning, you are primed and ready to begin reinventing your career path. After all, as we well know, life is short ... so what are you waiting for?
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success. Updated in 2014, it's packed with even more critical information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools they need to gain the edge over the competition and successfully navigate the modern job market. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!