Finding the Courage to Change Careers After 50

Where do you get your courage?Courage

I’ve been thinking a lot about courage lately. There’s no doubt the job market is difficult right now. To change careers or find a new job after 50 is especially challenging. That’s why I get so inspired by those people who keep moving forward in their job search despite fears about their age and the economy.

Each of us has unique strengths to get through whatever life brings, but each of us also has fears, self-doubts, and moments of discouragement. And setbacks have a way of overshadowing the positives.

What Is Courage?

I guess when I think about courage, I think of heroism. A mix of determination, perseverance, plus a dash of audacity. Courage is about exercising your strengths and knowing that you’ll make it through, without knowing exactly where you’ll end up. It’s nothing lofty. It’s about simple, everyday acts.

But whatever courage is, it’s not about playing it safe.

I can’t help but think about when I started my career coaching practice. I’m the type who likes to research everything ahead of time. But there came a point when I had to do something! Perfectionism can be a convenient way of avoiding both failure and success.

I also had to deal with a few family members who kept “encouraging” me to return to work that was “safer” and more “secure”. Well, I’m certainly glad I didn’t listen. As you change careers, it’s all too easy to lose sight of your career vision and the big picture. The temptation to “fit in” or “play it safe” can be very strong.

To Change Careers, Find Direction and Keep Moving

Every day I continue to take steps forward. I don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring. Every day I must start fresh – learning, staying focused, staying true to myself and my vision. And it is scary at times! I’ve made lots of mistakes along the way, and I still make them.

While it’s good to have a sense of direction, you don’t need a detailed roadmap. Routes change, detours happen. Sometimes it’s good to get off the main road and take the scenic route instead.

One thing that doesn’t work is to try to take short cuts. I tried doing that along the way, too. I ended up having to go back to “Go” and start all over again.

6 Tips For Making a Career Change After 50

If you’re thinking about a career change after 50, here are 6 ways you can keep moving in a more positive direction:

  • Look back at your past achievements, times in your life when you were exercising your strengths. Know that you have what it takes to change careers. Even though the challenges may be very different today, find motivation in your accomplishments.
  • Realize that positive change happens in steps. Discouragement along the way is normal.
  • Know that you have control over the way you think about things! What matters is how you face your fears and self-doubts, and how you deal with the inevitable feelings of discouragement.
  • Accept and honor your age. Acknowledge the experience you have to offer, and at the same time, do what you can to take care of yourself.
  • Step out of your routine. Workplaces are very different now, with multiple generations and new technologies. Today, career networking and targeted job search efforts are crucial to landing new jobs.
  • Have a beginner’s mind. The new world of social media is here to stay and will be evolving. Be willing to learn and be open, in order to remain competitive.

Again, if you want to change careers, it’s all about small steps! Courage comes when you take that first step now. Then tomorrow, you take the next.

Where can you get your courage?

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{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Unemployed with the best of them

    I enjoyed reading the articles about finding work after 50. I am in the same boat as the majority of people who have found themselves looking for work in these trying times. It is very scary when the competition is the younger applicants with sometimes more education than I myself had the opportunity to take advantage of.

    Good luck to all of you boomers out there! Something has to come out good to those of us who have lately found that just having a job, any job, was more security than we ever knew.

    • Thanks for your comment! It’s a strange new world, isn’t it? Your experience is valuable, though, so please don’t let yourself think otherwise. Even in this competitive job market, there are ways to show employers the value you have to offer.

      I believe there will soon be more demand for people over 50. Just today I read several articles predicting a work shortage by 2018, and that the majority of people in the job market will be over age 55. I know it doesn’t help today, but over the next few years, you should start seeing more opportunities in “encore careers”, particularly in fields such as education, health care, and “green” jobs.

      Best wishes, Janet

  • Dawn

    Thanks for your website you don’t know how much it helps to know we’re not alone. My husband just turned 55. He has worked hard most of his adult life by working with his hands and his body. With this day and age of computers and technology he has been left way behind. I am disabled and approaching 50; I cannot support us and he is struggling to find work in this terrible economy. Without technology behind his belt or a degree he is having to take the jobs no one wants. At this age, and after 25 years + of employment it should be getting easier not harder. Today’s younger generation seem to have an attitude of “It’s owed to me” rather than having to “work for your place and respect”. It is sad that our society does not recognize those who are dependable, hardworking, and willing to do all that it takes to get the job done. What’s happened to loyalty and trust? It seems good work ethics mean nothing to a corporation. If they can cut dollars by reducing benefits, pensions, etc who cares about respect and doing the right thing. No one should have to suffer the spiritual and emotional humiliation in America. We’ve become a disposable society and we’re forgetting how hard our elders have worked to get where we are today! We should be thanking and honoring our older Americans and helping them so as to continue to be independent and just to survive! Thank you for your site. We need more places like this to go to for good information and purpose. You’re a breath of fresh air and a ray of hope to hold onto.

  • John Groth

    Changing careers after 50 can be a scary proposition. Many times it’s easier to float along. Swimming against the current is difficult and fraught with disappointments. But along the way you achieve successes and how you build on them goes a long way toward making your career and life dreams come true.

    • John, I so agree. And when that new career is a good fit, you may find yourself for the first time in your life not just floating along but swimming effortlessly with the current.

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