A career change at 50 can seem daunting. But it’s also exciting.
Why not switch things up in the second half of your life?
The days of sticking at one job until you retire are gone.
They’ve been gone for a while, but after the last year, it’s abundantly clear that they’re gone for good.
Humans are living longer, so why not make the most of the extra years we’ve been given?
It doesn’t seem right to squander the extra time we’ve been afforded, especially when you consider that the life expectancy of a baby girl in 1841 was a paltry 42 years of age. (For a boy is was even less.)
Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life
We’re so busy jumping through hoops (school, university, marriage, child-rearing, forging a career path, etc.) in the first half of life, there’s no time to look for meaning.
Finding meaning in the second half of life makes sense. We’re done with school, the kids are out the house and our career is chugging along nicely.
On the other hand, perhaps work isn’t all you’d hoped it would be. Maybe you’re still searching for that elusive ‘thing’ that’ll have you leaping out of bed in the morning.
Wherever you find yourself, now is the perfect time to go deep and introspective. Reflect on where you are, how far you’ve come, and who you are as a person.
Jungian psycho-analyst James Hollis believes it is only in the second half of life that we can truly come to know who we are and thus create a life that has meaning.
In his book Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, Hollis looks at how we can grow and evolve to fully become ourselves. This is especially necessary when we find ourselves facing a career that no longer seems fulfilling.
Why a Career Change at 50 is Worth Exploring
There are lots of excellent reasons to consider a career change at 50 (or whatever age you find yourself). You may think it’s too late or you’re too old, but that’s simply not true.
1. You Get to Make Your Dream a Reality
How often do we shelve our dreams in favour of living a more practical life? We think we don’t have what it takes or we don’t have the finances or something else stops us in our tracks.
Carl Allanby finally realised his dream of becoming a doctor after working as a mechanic for 25 years. Going back to school when you’re older may seem scary, but it’s better than sitting around ruminating on what ifs.
2. You Can Do Something That Makes a Difference
After 31 years as a Financial Times columnist, Lucy Kellaway left to be a maths teacher in an inner city school in London. She was 58 at the time.
By her own admission she had the best job in the world. She got to write about whatever she wanted on a weekly basis and get paid for it. Being a teacher, however, is a lot more fulfilling.
We all love the idea of making a difference. Maybe now is the time to think about how you can do just that. (Lucy is looking to recruit more teachers, if that’s your thing.)
3. You Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
I know, the old comfort zone line. It’s true though, and I’m willing to bet you know it, too. The older we get, the more comfortable we become. We’d much rather stay home where it’s familiar than venture out into the world.
But that’s neither healthy nor useful. The best way to avoid stagnating is to get out there and try new things. If you can make a difference at the same time, even better.
The Purpose of ‘Work’ In the Second Half of Life
The first half of life is mostly about earning enough money to pay for things like putting a roof over your head and food on the table. And, if there’s anything left, saving for retirement.
We’re also caught up in the business of living. Now, as we enter the second half of life, we’re free to ponder the purpose of ‘work’ and what that means for us.
Sure, you could keep clocking in day after day until you reach 65, but wouldn’t you much rather shake things up? Wouldn’t you like to learn something new? Try something new?
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. —Helen Keller
In his book The Unsettlers: In Search of the Good Life in Today’s America, Mark Sundeen recounts stories of diverse Americans living off the grid.
These adventurers have chosen to forge a new path for themselves. In their quest for simple they’ve left behind the comfort of their old lives to find purpose and meaning.
Comfort zones are overrated. Why not get out there and try something new.