I received an email the other day from “John” (I changed his name and message to protect his privacy):
Janet, I am near retiring from a long career in public health. I am 55 years old. Also, over the past 12 years I have been a high school coach after work. I have found that I have and probably always had an interest in being a teacher. Is it too late at 55 to go back to school to become one or am I wasting my time thinking I could?
As I said to John, it’s never too late to “reinvent” yourself. When I returned to school in my late 40s, there were lots of people older than I was. And we older students typically did better, because we knew why we were there. We had a clear sense of direction, probably for the first time in our lives.
Getting From Here to There
When you know what you want (in John’s case, teaching), you’re already halfway there. Once you’re clear about what you want to do, the next step is to figure out how to get there.
I suggested that John do some research to find out more about the requirements for becoming a teacher. Another thing he could do is talk to some teachers to get a better idea about the day-to-day realities of teaching. Then he can begin charting out the path he’ll need to take.
When changing careers, it’s also important to check the employment outlook for the field you’re interested in. Fortunately for John, it looks like the demand for teachers (and other jobs in the social sector) will be growing in the next few years. People over 50 will actually be needed to bring their talents and enthusiasm to work that involves making a difference.
Listen to Your Heart’s Wisdom
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to believe you’re too old. Too old for what? For living your life more fully? For daring to “be what you might have been”?
Another mistake is buying into the idea that you should put off your dreams until the “time is right”. When will that time come? I don’t want to wake up one day in the future wondering what might have been if I had pursued my interest where it led.
It’s important to learn how to follow the promptings of your heart, to listen to your heart’s wisdom. When your heart tells you it’s time to change, see it as a call and an opportunity to live your life more authentically.
I really believe it’s never too late to start over. And you can begin by taking just one step at a time.
Do you agree? What is your heart telling you?