“But do you think I’m too old to start a career like that at 55?” Even as I said it, I felt myself bracing for the scolding I was about to take. My friend, shutting me right down said, “Good Heavens, NO! You have 10, 20, maybe even 30 years left to do it! Why would you cheat yourself out of all that joy?”
I’m all about aging gracefully, but let’s be honest, at first, you don’t feel like there’s anything graceful about it! No, I’m not saying we’re less than enough, because we certainly are not! I’m saying we’re changing again – this is just another stage of life! Along with the physical changes, our priorities, goals, and dreams begin to transform. It isn’t surprising that we may also start considering a career change to make a way for realizing those.
It’s terrifying, though. Especially in this uncertain climate we’ve found ourselves in. That’s a notable difference between our younger years and now – we have life experience that has taught us to be more calculated and reserved about our choices. Fortunately, we likely have some luxuries affording us more options in this period of our lives. We’re empty-nesters which opens up all kinds of scheduling options; our experiences have helped us to distinctly identify our likes and dislikes; we have the financial resources to invest in our new goals; and we’re motivated by joy more than need!
So how does one press that big, fat, red, restart button? For me it was with shaky fingers and eyes clinched shut! For some, it comes after taking time off after retirement, traveling a bit, visiting kids and grandkids, realizing there’s only so much fishing, golf, gardening, and reading one can do before the decision is made to reenter the workforce. For others, the plans are made while continuing to work in their current field.
According to the Department of Labor, between the years of 2014 and 2024, there is an expected growth rate of 55% for those 65-74 years of age returning to work, and an even greater 86% for those 75 and over! Why? There are lots of reasons folks want to retire and change gears! It could be that your health is pushing you to reduce your hours, or your stress. Does this make you less valuable? It most definitely does not! You still hold within you all the experience, the wisdom, the skillsets, the talent, the expertise … and when you recreate yourself, remember to include those insights when you’re discussing what you bring to the table with another employer. Write it down, put it in your resume, on your LinkedIn profile, join social media groups that help keep you focused … practice your speech (out loud) for when they ask you why you’re making the career change. The right employer will see what prime real estate you are!
It may be that you’ve worked for someone else all your career and want to turn a hobby, new trade, or even a new interest into a business of your own! To create exactly what you’ve always wanted to do, on your terms – what a wonderful new season that can bring! There are many resources out there to help someone become a small business owner! Start with the Small Business Administration in your area. https://www.sba.gov.
Maybe you want to learn something completely different than anything you’ve ever done. Even if it means going back to school for a period of time, you’re going to be here those years anyway, may as well use them to work toward your goals! Depending on your age, there are large discounts, and even programs that are completely cost-free at local colleges, and online. Decide what you want to do, look up online, or ask someone you know what’s required, and then start talking to the providers of those programs. Calling any trade school, college, or university and asking a few questions can set you well on your way.
Know, though, that you may need to lower your financial expectations with your career change. After all, you spent years building your salary and now you’re starting over. Fortunately, retirement makes that manageable. However, before you take the final plunge, discuss with your financial advisor how it will impact you. There may be considerations with Social Security, Medicare, or Health Insurance that you’ll want to be aware of.
If you can’t imagine where to begin, make an appointment with a career counselor. You can reach out to your local career center for guidance. There are courses you can take on sites like LinkedIn. They’ll even review your resume for you – for free if you want them to, and help you rewrite it if necessary. Don’t know how to use social networks? That’s okay, too! Find a tech savvy person, and have them help you.
Whatever your reasons for hitting that restart button, whether it came unexpectedly, or it was planned as a way to spend more time with your grandkids, fulfill that life-long dream, or put a little extra play money in the bank, embrace it! You’re in a good group! Colonel Sanders, Julia Child, Dame Judi Dench, Ray Kroc, John Glenn, Martha Stewart, and President Ronald Reagan are just a few of those who made career changes late in life, some more than once! In fact, I think I’ll follow President Reagan’s lead when he said, “Thomas Jefferson once said, ‘We should never judge a president by his age, only by his works.’ And ever since he told me that, I stopped worrying.”