If I knew then what I know now . . . career advice on the other side of change
At age 65, Sanders’ store having failed due to the new Interstate 75 reducing his restaurant’s customer traffic, he took $105 from his first Social Security check and began visiting potential franchisees . . .
We are of course all very familiar with the story of Colonel Harland Saunders and his ubiquitous Kentucky Fried Chicken brand which is known and enjoyed the world over.
The power in a story such as the Colonel’s is that it clearly demonstrates something that we have always heard but maybe never really accepted beyond the scope of a Horatio Alger rags to riches sentiment . . . that is until the most recent economic collapse.
In this most recent cycle of economic crisis, the impact was far reaching in that job loss was not limited to the rank and file so to speak, but extended well into the executive suites to include senior managers, many of whom were approaching an age in which long held plans were supposedly coming to fruition.
Obviously when faced with a change of this magnitude, many question the course of their careers wondering if their lives would have taken a different turn had they pursued other options. Based upon past studies, in which findings seem to indicate that “an astonishing 80 per cent of us finish up in the wrong job,” the real question is not why did change happen but why it took so long?!
If the inevitability of later in life career changes – or for that matter changes for those who have been with the same company for many years is a foregone conclusion, as a result of either a faulty economy or an epiphanic moment of realization as to a true calling, how do we respond.
One thing is certain, and as referenced in Wendy Thomas’ article Changing Direction Later In Life the question presents a paradoxical challenge in that “over the age of 50, change gets harder, and yet it can also seem more urgent.”
About later in life change Thomas would write; “For most of us, life is settled and patterns of behavior firmly engrained. We may have lived in the same house or town for many years, been together with same partner for just as long and worked in the same field all that time. But just as the notion of retirement begins to loom up ahead on the mental horizon, circumstances or natural processes often conspire to throw us off the track.”
When faced with this new reality there are steps that you can take to turn a perceived career set-back into both an unexpected and rewarding opportunity;
- A cup is half full versus half empty outlook is a great starting point. Often times it is our attitudes that determine how we respond to a particular situation or set of circumstances. While it is not unreasonable to experience a sense of unease at a sudden shift in a life plan, by seeing it has the beginning of a new phase in your journey as opposed to the end, you will be open to the many possibilities that will almost certainly surface – and usually in the least expected places.
- You will want to look at either a remake or a refinement of your personal brand which has likely been confined to a comfort zone of familiarity. While you might equate such a change with getting new clothes or a new hair style (which you can do), what I am talking about is a much deeper and contextual makeover in which you align your strengths and values with current market demands.
- Of course once you do your personal brand assessment you may decide to pursue the entrepreneurial route of becoming a small or home-based business owner, which means that you will be perhaps for the first time interacting directly with the public. Whatever your chosen path keep in mind that the only one chance to make a first impression edict holds true whether you are applying for a job or looking to land a new client.
- Referring back to the studies which indicate that 80% of all people end their work life in the wrong job, look at this as an opportunity to get it right the second time around. With maturity comes understanding or what is commonly called emotional intelligence . . . a kind of unto thyself be true reconciliation.
- Finally, and as much as possible, have fun! It may seem maudlin or for that matter trite but a persevering truth is that if you love what you do you will never have to work another day in your life!
Remember to check out Roz’s books and CDs . . .