Just the other day it occurred to me that a rather significant anniversary from my working life was drawing near. It was on April 29, 1999 when my final morning show aired on the local radio station. The company had been bought out by a larger corporation that couldn’t justify keeping locally-produced programming on air in our community. With the end of that airshift came the end of my broadcasting career, which had spanned 23 years.
I had no interest in trying to find work in another radio station in the region. My career in that industry was done. I did pretty much every task imaginable in broadcasting that saw my voice actually travel up and down the AM and FM dials at a total of six different radio stations in three different communities. While that may sound like a lot, I was not nearly as transient as many of the co-workers I had shared a microphone and studio with over the years.
Celebrating That 20 Years Have Passed
I chose to post a reminder of the milestone on social media. I added a photo my wife, Brenda, snapped of me holding a magnetic door sign that used to be on my car when I was working at the local radio station. It has spent years clinging to the side of one of the file cabinets in my home office. I mentioned in the post that it had been twenty years since the local radio station had ceased broadcasting local programming (it is a repeater now).
In the following 24-hours I discovered two interesting things. First, there are a lot of new people in the area who had no clue there was a radio station in operation here. Second, there were at least as many people who actually remembered listening to me during the local morning show I hosted from October 1981 to the closure of the local studio. It even generated a conversation in the post office this afternoon about how things have changed.
What The Anniversary Really Revealed To Me
Oddly enough, all I could think about with the comments posted online and those shared with me on the street or at a meeting was this: the end of one career of mine twenty years ago was preparing me for the midlife career change I would make 16 years later. While I really enjoyed the radio business, technology was changing it rapidly. We now have online streaming radio stations and satellite radio. Local radio is not as predominant.
The same basic pattern evolved during the years I was involved in the print media industry. However, I was able to spend enough time in both industries to pull together a great deal of transferrable skills. It was with those transferrable skills that Brenda and I were able to transition into the current careers we are following. What I am saying here is that I may have just realized that I have been evolving through all of my career changes after all.
For More Information On Midlife Career Changes
Someone mentioned to me today that I had been getting groomed for forty years for my current position in my life. That statement sums it up very nicely as you are also being groomed for your next career. For details on how to navigate a midlife career change, download my eBook, “Surviving Midlife Career Changes.” In it there is a lot of interesting information that will guide you through the most important career change of your life.
I’ve discussed at great length the process we followed that took us through our midlife career changes. Looking back on it, we were lucky on more than one account. Both my wife, Brenda, and I had already started sidelines and both were well established before we closed our business. Second, the decision to just switch gears and turn both of those hobbies into full-time careers was not just logical, but it was an easy solution. That made the entire process manageable.
But what if you don’t already have a parachute?
That’s what I am going to explain here today. There are a few steps you can take in order to launch your own midlife career change. But if you don’t know how to begin, how are you expected to accomplish that goal? Hopefully, the following tips will give you some guidance.
1 – Build Your Hit List
The best ‘first step’ to take in the early stages of your midlife career change is to take a look at your options. In this case, select career choices. These can be careers you have an interest in or may even be careers that can be connected to your current career in some way. In my case, I transitioned from being a newspaper owner/publisher, which included several writing chores, to a full-time freelance writer. The option to do this was very obvious to me at the time.
2 – Do Your Homework
Now that you have a list of potential career choices, it is time to do some research. This is where you will determine whether or not it is a feasible option. Will you need additional training for certain skills? Are there employment opportunities for your new list of career choices where you live? Can you make a decent living if you transition into one of your options? All of these things should be answered as part of your research process. It will help you narrow down your choices.
3 – Short-Term Education
When you get right down to it, you may find that the career path you have been on is no longer the right fit for you. After doing some research, you may discover that a completely different path is more attractive. Depending on your specific circumstances, re-training may be required. If this is the case, seek programs that will give you the qualifications you need but won’t take years to acquire. Night school or online distance education may fit best at this time.
4 – Seek Something Versatile
Never underestimate the ability to be versatile. Because you are aiming at a career change in your midlife years, it becomes extremely important to find a new career that gives you many options within the framework you’ll be working. In other words, a career that provides many skills and can branch off to various other careers would be the most attractive at this time in your life. Do not opt for the easy, single task career as it will become boring and dull in time.
5 – Planning Ahead Will Be A Big Help
Making a midlife career change is nothing to take lightly. As a result, you need to put a great deal of thought into it long before you begin with the first step outlined here. My situation was very different in that I was already freelance writing over two years before we closed our business but that may not be the same for you. If you are just considering making a career change, examine your finances, life plan and other factors before starting the transition.
For More Information, Check Out My eBook
I know exactly what it feels like to wonder whether or not it would be the right thing to do to jump from one career to another. It’s even more difficult a decision when you are in your midlife. However, I will also state that it was probably the best thing I did in my entire working life. Yes, it’s scary and it’s not easy. But typically anything worth doing isn’t. For more information that can help you with your decision, download my eBook, “Surviving Midlife Career Changes.” In it you’ll find a lot of support, suggestions and guidance.
Well, if I said I’ve become complacent, it would be a lie. The word ‘evolve’ has come up more than once in conversation with Brenda. We’ve used it frequently to describe how we are continuing to adapt with the things we have been doing with her home-based business. The homemade jelly, jam, salsa and antipasto products continue to sell and she keeps adding new items to the selection. It is with this ongoing revolution of changing up the product line that we have discussed how the business keeps us interested as it continues to evolve. Even after being at it for five years, we are still fine tuning here and there.
The same can be said about my home-based business. As a ghostwriter, I have a ton of flexibility on a daily basis as long as I get freelance jobs completed on time. Now that I have recently added additional responsibilities related to my elected position in civic politics, the flexibility has come in handy. If anything, I am learning how to use my time even more efficiently than before. I still get a fair volume of writing jobs – over 30 during the month of February 2019 alone – so I’m not losing any ground. If anything, I am learning how to evolve along with the demands of the two main things that fill my days when I’m not vending with Brenda.
But as I hinted at with the title of this article, busy people tend to get things done. However, as busy as Brenda and I may sound to the average person, we also have a firm grip on what our limitations are. For example, we attended a new-to-us vending venue February 16. Leading up to that date Brenda canned daily and for no less than ten hours per day on some of those days. That built up the inventory for this event as well as the balance of the JamBusters! inventory. Now, she is taking a break from canning for a few days to rest. She knows that in order to function well over a long period of time, she has to stop and quit moving so much.
I call it pacing. In our third quarter transition, pacing has played a major role in our lives. I think that is mostly due to the fact that both Brenda and I have found new career paths that have given us a reason to stay active. Not all midlife career changes provide such an outlet and I think that is one of the things I appreciate most about how our lives have evolved over the past few years. I know when I’m reaching my limit and I’ll just stop taking on jobs until I get that break I need or I’ll work extra hard to ‘earn’ a little extra time off. Either way, we have found what works for us and continue to put it in practice. Staying busy is good, with breaks included.
My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.