At 81, my mother runs a thriving bed & breakfast. She does it because she enjoys it – and the money helps too. She says it keeps her young and she does seem young – not a day over 70. She started the business in her fifties, after a successful career in fashion. She crossed the line from creative director of her own fashion house to very contented B&B lady in one graceful step.
No, that last part isn’t true. There were, in fact, several steps and some of them were really quite awkward and difficult. The change required imagination, self-belief, persistence and a willingness to accept the judgement of others – but she did it and she’s been reaping the benefits of her decision for almost 30 years.
50 can be a difficult age professionally. Not only can we feel undervalued or sidelined, we may also feel burnt out or simply have lost interest in our current career. Here are some signs to look out for:
Do you find yourself … ?
- Bored and tired at work
- Struggling to care about it in the same way you used to
- Feeling generally “over it”
- Wondering where all the people your age went
- Feeling squeezed out by younger people
- Feeling frustrated that you haven’t progressed further
- Feeling secretly jealous of those who seem to enjoy their work
Have you dreamed of … ?
- Having a career where your age and experience is a benefit, not a hindrance
- Using a talent that’s been ignored for years
- Doing something completely new
- Feeling proud of the work you do
- Realising your full potential
- Feeling as motivated and inspired as you were at the start of your career
- Earning a living doing what you love
Then it may be time for a change of …
career or job or role or even of perspective.
It’s NOT too late to make changes and here’s why:
You DO have time
At 50, you may well be at least 15 years away from retirement (ample time to make things happen). If you’re not doing something fulfilling, this equates to about 26,790 hours* doing something you don’t enjoy.
* A worker who works 38 hours per week, 4 vacation weeks and 5 public holidays (for a total of 5 weeks of vacation). 38 hours per week x (52 weeks in one year – 5 weeks of holidays) = 1,786 hours worked per year
You Are Not Alone
According to a recent UK government report, the proportion of working people aged between 50 and the state pension age (66 at time of writing) is growing – it was 26% in 2012, projected to keep on growing for at least another 30 years. This proportion is even higher amongst entrepreneurs (see below). The report states that, “The productivity and economic success of the UK will be increasingly tied to that of older workers”.
Work Is Changing
Working life is evolving at a rapid rate. This can feel overwhelming, but also offers lots of opportunities that weren’t even possible a few years ago. Thanks to technology, we’re no longer slaves to geography. We can work from home with a much broader and diverse group of people. As some industries may be shrinking, many more are growing and these cover a wide range of sectors.
Over-50s Are the New Start-up Generation
According to a recent study, people aged between 45-54 were the most numerous self-employed age group in the UK (1.3 million of us) and data from the UK Office of National Statistics suggests that the number of self-employed people aged 65 and over has more than doubled over the past five years.
Support is Available
If you really want to do something worthwhile with the rest of your working life, all it takes is some research to find the support you need to make it happen. You may want to work with a specialist coach to get clear on exactly what fulfils you in your work and what drains you, decide what changes you’re prepared to make and have someone to champion you as you make those changes happen. You might know what you want to do, but need help financing the retraining required. There are a variety of Government Grants available and, if there isn’t one to fund the particular training you have in mind, consider a Career Development Loan. You may want to join a group and enjoy the benefits of peer-support as you make the shift.
Whatever you decide to do, know this:
You are NOT too old and it is NOT too late.
Are you really prepared to bury that dream and live the rest of your working life in the shadows? Many other people have chosen to make a career shift in midlife. Yes, it requires nerve, resolve and imagination. Frankly, it’s not for everyone but, if you’re still reading at the end of this article, there’s a possibility that it may be for you.