Mid Life Career Changes Thread

:thread:Starting a thread here about making a job or career change in your midlife. If you have made a change or are thinking about one, please tell us here all about it. :arrow_down_small:

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I Was Terrified to Start Over at Age 50. Here’s How I Did it Anyway

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Ladies, all I can say is, be brave enough to suck at something new! This is a topic that has been occupying my heart and mind for the last year, and it has filled me with overwhelming thoughts and emotions of all kinds. After over 15 years as a contact center manager, I am now making a career pivot in my 40’s, after spending most of the last year on medical leave.
A few years ago, I began to struggle with finding balance between my work and personal life. I had enjoyed working hard to build a strong foundation for my career, living the single life downtown, traveling and meeting new people, and having fun adventures. I worked hard and I played hard, because I was young and had the energy to. I used to joke that I’ll sleep when I’m dead. I wore my work ethic and independence as a badge of honor, and it was a source of pride and part of my identity.
Flash forward to 2015, and after 3 years of living together, my partner proposed to me. He was everything I had always wanted, and I was thrilled to be planning a life together. This meant that I had to shift my priorities, from being a single social butterfly, working my way up the corporate ladder, to putting more time and energy into our relationship and thinking about how WE wanted OUR life together to be. We wanted a simple wedding with all of our loved ones, we wanted to buy a larger and nicer condo, and this all costs a LOT of money. So, while I shifted some priorities to make more time to spend with him and his family and work on the wedding and home projects, I was still working 10 to 11 hours a day, and often logging in on days off. Over the years, my work seemed to get more stressful, and I fell into a rut. I was always told I was good at what I did, I had great relationships and was known as a leader in my industry, and I was typically paid better in this field than others I had looked into, so I kept pushing on.
We saved and paid for the wedding, and it was the perfect day. We bought a new home that we love, enjoyed nesting and reno projects, and we were SO happy together, but there was a problem. I was always exhausted! I was moody after work, often felt resentful of never having enough time, and I had lost sight of my health and fitness, and began to develop health and weight problems. I had no time or energy to stop and think about what else I might do, if this career was no longer serving me. So, I kept applying for the same kind of jobs, ones that just paid a lot more, while burning out in my current job. Things would get better, then things would get worse, but the thought of starting over was terrifying, and I had no energy or space in my mind to reflect, or feel inspired. Just when things were starting to look up, Covid hit….
I was trying to help my team navigate a very challenging company takeover, leading a large team of stressed out people during a pandemic, dealing with aging parents and their stressful health issues, so I had acquired a myriad of health issues that I could no longer ignore. I met with my doctor, and she immediately put me on medical leave, which lasted a year. It was both the happiest day of my life to finally be able to stop and slow down and think about what I need and want, and then terrifying, because I had no idea. I knew how I wanted to feel, and make others feel, and that I needed a meaningful change, but what they would look like I did not know.
So, I started simple. I went to bed early, I got up early, I ate simple clean foods, and exercised daily. I found some guided meditations to help clear the clutter and calm my anxiety. I joined a fitness app the first day of my leave, and lost 40 pounds, while gaining back my health. I joined a women’s group a former colleague of mine started, where we shared various experiences. I talked to my best friends, family and husband, and tried to communicate to them when I needed help or support, without feeling shame. It took many months, and eventually I was in a place where I could think about a career pivot. Being someone who has a broad skillset, but suffers from imposter syndrome, I have what I call cautious confidence. I feel like a jack of all trades, but a master of none, when faced with trying to pick a field to specialize in. I still seem to be seen as over-qualified, or under-qualified when applying to more junior roles in my chosen new fields. Competing against all of these high energy, fresh faced, up and coming people half my age, I often find myself ruminating on my experience and relevance. Some days I feel unstoppable and so excited about what my next steps will be, and I’ve enjoyed learning new things and meeting new people. Other days I feel, rejected, defeated, and question myself: WHO AM I NOW?! My identity was far too connected to my work, and I have now quit my job, so I had to do the work to figure that out and get back to my roots. My values, my core, my heart…
I am still on this journey, still figuring out my career plan A, B, C, and D, trying not to create too much debt for us, but also be thoughtful and true to myself. One book I would recommend that really helped me is Finding Your Element, and check out the Author’s Ted Talk about this:Finding Your Element
When I got lost and forgot who I was, now that I am not Jane, Call Center Manager, I just asked my friends and family who I am, and they all told me. I saved most of their feedback, and I often read it when I am having a down day. I am still afraid some days that I will pick the wrong next step, I won’t make enough money to support us, I will be not be good enough in my new career, and what will people think about me quitting and starting over when it looked like I had it good? One thing that helps me reframe is that with my age comes wisdom, and valuable experience. I am not started from scratch, I am starting from experience! It is not easy, but I’m taking it one day at a time, and I have again learned to not confuse happiness with being complacent. The most growth and fun I have experienced has been outside of my comfort zone. SO, my motto now is, be brave enough to suck at something new!

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It’s rough right now. Working is hard with the way the world is! But jobs available so a good time to start over too?!

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@as_per_danielle I’ve never really had a straight line career path so I feel like constantly adjusting and changing is just part of my career theme. I love learning new things and I’m in the middle of doing my master’s degree right now which I hope will open new doors. I agree that with experience comes wisdom and we have so much to offer.

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Thank you for sharing, what a story! I always feel blessed that I came to these realizations now instead of 20 years from now. I totally agree that the big question as we enter our 40’s is WHO AM I!!! Who am I other than my job and my kids? What do I love to do, what makes me feel alive? I think that trying new things and learning new things keeps us young. I could even just be hobbies! I got my pilots license a few years ago and that was such an incredible accomplishment I still wear a little airplane as an earring to remind myself how badass that was. I learned to surf also and that turned into a lifelong obsession. During the pandemic, I learned to DJ. Always more things to learn and things to get better at!

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It’s tough…right now many people are burnt out! Companies have cut down on hours, letting some people go, and the ones left must deal with more work and no extra pay. The constant changes and uncertainty of everything is taking a toll on us all.
During this time, my work cut down on hours and I felt like I was going to lose my job. I felt lost, insecure and it made me realize that I had to make an effort and put more time in to work on improving my skills. (Kind of scary since I felt like I had neglected this for too long). But I’m glad a figured it out.
You should be proud of yourself. You are getting back on track! You are taking time to make simple changes that have a huge impact on your life. When we take time to focus on our mental/physical health it improves our state of mind. It allows us to enjoy the simple things.
The past two years have been draining and crazy but at the same time it has made people understand what they value and what is important them.

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