Midlife Career Changes: Listen To Your Dreams

Can midlife career changes really lead to midlife renewal?

Remember those dreams you used to have? You were going to change the world, make a difference in the lives of others, express yourself artistically. But somewhere along the way you got sidetracked.

Maybe you followed what made sense financially, or you found yourself trying to be what others thought you should be. Trying to meet their expectations, their goals.

But those old, not quite forgotten, dreams have a way of calling to you… sometimes in a soft whisper, other times more urgently. Maybe you’ve tried to ignore those whispers because they call you away from what feels secure and comfortable. But your dreams will not be still.

“To be nobody-but-yourself – in a world which is doing its best,
night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight
the hardest battle which any human being can fight….”
~ e.e. cummings

Midlife can be a wakeup call to re-examine what’s important to you. And midlife career changes can be a way to return to what matters most to you.

Between the ages of 40 and 60 many of us encounter an urge to live more authentically and discover what’s right for us. Time begins to feel shorter and more valuable. The thought of working primarily for “material things” in a career that’s grown stale may not be so attractive anymore.

According to Carl Jung, meaning and purpose become important in midlife. It’s a time for becoming whole and real. It’s a time to give up the persona you’ve presented to the world for so long. And it’s also a time to listen to your dreams, act on your insights, and find a way to actualize them in your everyday life.

Your midlife career change can be how you express the real you – if you allow yourself to listen to your dreams.

Midlife Career Changes To Suit The Real You

“‘Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that
happens to you…. You become. It takes a long time.'”
~ Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

The real you has a way of making itself known as you get older. But even when you begin to glimpse your real self, you may still be reluctant to give up those things in your life that seem so safe and certain.

If you want to live authentically, it’s time to let go of your attachment to who you were so you can fully embrace your new self as it emerges. But give yourself the time you need to reclaim what’s yours. Allow yourself to see past the “shoulds” and “oughts” of others.

As you explore career change possibilities, you may feel lost and disoriented at first. But as you become engaged in the process, you’ll begin to feel more whole and ready to begin a new life and career.

When changing careers at midlife, it’s important to ask yourself:

  • What’s not OK in my career?
  • What is unfulfilled?
  • What are my fears?

Then explore:

  • What is not working? And be able to let go of what’s not working, of what no longer feels right.
  • What do I want my life to be? Allow yourself to dream, to envision how you want your life to be.
  • What are the steps I need to take to get from here to there, one step at a time?

This is your chance to reinvent yourself, to return to your ideals, and to live according to your vision.

Until midlife we tend to define ourselves in terms of our work. We ask each other, “what do you do?” But in the second half of life, midlife career changes allow you to integrate your career with the totality of who you are.

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{ 4 comments… add one }

  • satya

    i really want to thank you for the encouraging words. i am exactly at this point in my life where i don’t feel satisfied anymore with what I’m doing (financial planner); true, it pays the bills and more, but i feel a craving to do something else, interiors and all. but i’m afraid that it will not pay the bills and it will not be successful, and that it will take up more time and energy then i have. :-( . i know it sounds silly. what do you say about this?

    • Thanks for visiting, Satya. What you’re saying doesn’t sound silly at all! If you feel pulled to do something different with your life, don’t ignore that feeling. Find out more. Instead of just wondering about this new career and maybe imagining the worst, take the time to do some research. Talk to people in that field. Find out what your options are, and get a realistic picture of the income and amount of preparation needed. Don’t assume you know everything there is to know about it.

      Many people, once they set out on a new career path, are content to cut back and simplify their lifestyles in order to have work they can look forward to each day. All of this will require some legwork on your part. But if you choose not to, at some point in the future you may find yourself wondering what your life would have been had you followed your heart. Best wishes to you, and thanks again!

  • Dennis Martin

    It is rare, if at all, that I have ever responded to a posting. However, you have captured (I’m sure) many of our seasoned thoughts on our true lives – the one(s) we should have been living all along. But, for this and that reason, we have persisted away from passion and toward what’s proper. Hidden in the corner of my mind (perhaps resting) has always been the artist, the creative and musician… waiting and tugging away. I appreciate the words. Wonder if there are other “late blooming and introverted” musicians waiting too.

    • Dennis, thank you for sharing your thoughts. It sounds like the creative musician inside of you is beginning to speak in a louder voice. In what ways can you begin to let that music out into the world?

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