It’s not uncommon for one to rethink her career path several times over the course of a career. A mid-career transition can seem particularly daunting for some. However, with careful thought to the right considerations, and planning, a new career path is within reach. This article will guide you through a logical thought process when evaluating if a mid-career transition is right for you.
If you are considering a mid-career change, you are certainly not alone. The considerations can be overwhelming. You have likely naturally gone through the who, what, when, where, and how in your head, but it’s important to really document these questions in detail. In doing so you will create a well thought out plan with all things considered. This guide will walk you through each of these questions, and advise you on what to consider for each.
We are going to go in a slightly different order and start with WHY as this is the most important question, and should be the first thing to evaluate.
Changing your career path mid-career can be a scary thing but it does not have to be. The most important step to consider is why you want to make the change. This will require some deep self-evaluation. You need to consider if changing your career path is what is going to fulfill you. Is it a path worth taking because it is something you are truly passionate about? Will this career change fulfill a personal desire such as helping others? Are you changing careers because you have lost the passion for what you currently do or was the passion ever there? Will you have regrets later if you don’t at least try a new career path?
The why is something only you can determine. Once you make the decision, move towards your goal despite any fear. It goes without saying that you need to consider practical matters, but follow your heart along the way.
As a working mother, a support system is important. A common concern when changing career paths, especially mid-career, is who is going to support you in this endeavor. You may wonder if your spouse or partners will be on board? Is your family willing to make any needed sacrifices? Do you have colleagues you can use as resources?
The best way to combat these concerns is to openly communicate with those closest to you. Once you have decided you want to change your career path, talk with your family about WHY. The WHY speaks to who you are, and what is driving this decision. This may evoke empathy from your family.
What will you do? What are your skills? What is your passion? Ask yourself these questions. Passion drives success, and passion is what will carry you through difficult times. It’s important to get a visual of your interests and skills. First, make a list of all the things that interest you. Do not limit or censor yourself. Even if something seems silly, write it down. Don’t stop writing until you run out of things that truly interest you. Next, list your skills. List not only what you think your skills are, but think back to all the positive feedback you have gotten from teachers, professors, managers, and friends. List all of these. When you compare your interests to your skills, you should see some common themes. This is where the WHAT will start to come together. Think about how your primary skills and interests compliment on another, and what you can do with them. How can you apply them to developing a product, service, or starting a new position?
It’s important to decide what you want to do before deciding when to do it. Your mid-career change may require some time to implement. It may not be a matter of when to make the transition, but when to START making the transition. A mid-career transition is a process, and usually not something that is done at one moment in time. Consider working part-time on a new career adventure, or volunteering to gain experience and build a stronger network.
When you actually leave your current career will depend on many variables that are unique to each person. Some common things to consider for WHEN to make the move are.
- Are you financially prepared?
- Have you polished or gained the needed skills?
- Is your family or support system on board?
- Do you have a business plan, if you are taking an entrepreneurial route?
Where will you work. Will you seek a new employer? Will you relocate? Will your start a home-based business? Think about where your interest and skills can best be applied. More importantly think about if working for another employer is for you, or are you an entrepreneur at heart. When deciding where to work, think about your personal fulfillment, and what you think will truly make you happy.
You have thought through a lot so far, so how in the heck will you actually make the change. Work to get sharpen your skills, grow a network, and let passion drive you. Tap into your existing network for opportunities or support. The support can be either motivational or financial. You may be surprised to see how much people want to see you succeed. Preparation is always good, so be sure to have a good plan.
Consider the following when you are working out HOW to make your mid-career transition.
- Do you need to take classes?
- Consider freelancing if your skills are conducive to freelancing.
- If you are an entrepreneur, grow a social media presence.
- Tap into your existing network
- Get your financials in order.
- For entrepreneurs, get legal matters in order. Do it right!
Throughout your evaluation process, there are many things to consider; however, be cautious of being so stuck in evaluating and planning that you never get to the actual decision, and implementing it.
Let’s be honest, most of us cannot ignore practical matters when making a mid-career change. We have families to consider. However, there is a reason you are considering a change and it comes from a place that is not truly fulfilled, and that cannot be ignored. With proper planning, and considerations a mid-career change is within reach. Don’t let fear of failure hold you back. Think back to all the lessons you have learned from failure, and it’s probably made you a better or stronger person. You can do it; just believe in yourself!