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My Medical Device Sales Career

Have the Guts for a Midlife Career Change? 8 Questions to Ask Yourself First

Have you ever been in a place in your career or life where you just don't want to be?  Perhaps you are stuck in a job that is going nowhere, or maybe you are in a decent job, but it just isn't what you want to do in life?  It is difficult to transition to a new industry or job after one has built a 10 years career or longer in a particular occupation. You want to change and do something different, but find that changing careers in a different field means a significant cut in salary and perhaps evening starting at the bottom once again.  Does this sound like you or a loved one?

Without a doubt almost all people rethink where they are in life as they approach a mid-career point.  Some wish they could go back to college and start all over again and get a different degree or advanced degree to pursue an entirely different career altogether.  Others know they are in the wrong place and are miserable, yet when faced with the hurdles of changing careers, most will succumb to the status quo by putting their head down and continuing to plug away at a job and life they fell into or one they chose when they were a 19 year old Freshman or Sophomore in college. If this is you, then read on from someone who has been there and interviews people daily who face or have faced the challenge successfully. It is the wisdom of those collective souls I will share as you contemplate your journey into changing your career and perhaps your life in the process.  A midlife career change can be done!

If you have decided to continue on with this reading, I am assuming you are in the category of being dissatisfied with your career (or you are a spouse of one who is in that category and driving you crazy when they come home at night after a long day or week away at work!).   So first of all I must come clean and let you know the plain truth that I always tell my career clients,

Yes, a total career change could be a painful, even a VERY painful experience for you and your family. Yes, it will be scary. Yes, you and your family may need to make a sacrifice so you can make a career change, but if you make the changes now and do it right it can lead to rich rewards. Remember the old saying, No Pain, No Gain?  Focus on the gain while enduring the pain!

Those that are the most successful at transitioning to a new career have built a tight game plan.  First of all they have really dug deep into their own desires, wants and yes, intellectual abilities and skills.  If one thinks that student loans are risky for a new 22 year old recent college graduate, try on the risk level of a 33 year old married person with two kids to support or worse, a single parent!  You must reduce the risk level of your decision by understanding if you have the goods to be successful in attaining the additional education, as well as the demands of the new job. This is the just the beginning of building your career transition game plan, let's review the 8 necessary steps (or questions to ask yourself) before you quit that day job!  I have written them in the order they should occur.  For example,  if you don't know number 1, then don't proceed to number 2.  Stay on the step you are on and work it out before you proceed to the next.

8 Steps to a Successful Career Change

 

  1. Know Thyself, What do you really want to do in life?  What are your passions?  What type of work environment do you enjoy and why?  Identify what type of jobs or career would best fulfill those interests?  Can you intellectually handle the type of additional education that you may need to acquire for that new career?
  2. Family Support, Single people do not skip this section!  If you are married or living with a significant other this will affect their lifestyle and in fact, they may have to help bankroll your decision by carrying the full financial load for awhile or long while.  Single or married, it may involve moving back in with a relative (remember, I said this would be painful!). If your decision is affecting others, you must have their full support! 
  3. Know the New Career, Make sure you know if there are jobs for the career you are seeking and how much the starting pay will be and expected average income after 5 and 10 years. Is the job a growth position reflecting the future or a career that is at risk of going away or one of diminishing income.  
  4. Financial Plan, Work out the dollars and the numbers.  What are your monthly expenses, what is your household income or if living off savings, will it be enough to see you through?  How much will additional education cost to complete the program and project out the expected new income from the work you did in No. 3. Will you need to get a part time job while you go to school?
  5. Action Steps, By now this decision is becoming closer to reality and where your feet could be losing some of their warmth.  A written action plan needs to be built with time frames for execution.  Make sure the time frame is reality and not wishful thinking; can you really complete that nursing degree or MBA within 2 years?  Build some slack into the action plan for the unexpected.
  6. Develop a Back Up Plan, This is not an out-plan for not succeeding, but a plan if the money runs out or it looks like you need another year to execute your business plan.  In my case, when I started my business at the age of 49 years, one kid ready for college and 8 year old twins at home, we had one year for me to make money in my new business or we would have to move and rent the house out to survive and for me to continue my quest for successful self-employment.  
  7. Commit to the Plan, This could be the toughest step, this is where you re-examine everything again from step 1 through 7.  Everyone involved or touched in your endeavor has to buy in and commit to the success of the plan and do whatever necessary to make the plan a reality.  It is a gut thing.  You are nervous and scared but you decide to go for it come hell or high water; failure is not an option.
  8. Execute the Plan, You now have made the commitment and you know what and when things need to start happening.  So with all hands on deck, you take the plunge and execute your written plan. It's exciting, it's scary and it's exhilarating!  You are preparing to change your life and perhaps build towards living your dream. 

If you are thinking of a career change and feeling the sacrifices may not be worth the pain, then I must encourage you to have one other thought; if you don't do anything, you may be in the same place, same type of job with the same feeling of discontent another 5 to 10 years from now or worse, until you retire.  On the other hand, if you just can't commit to doing what it takes, then don't.  Without the true commitment to do what it takes to succeed, you are surely setting yourself up for failure; a failure of truly trying to create the life you want and deserve.  

©Linda Hertz, All Rights Reserved  

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Tags: career change, midlife career change

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