There are many reasons why people will take a left turn in their career path later in life. I have covered many of them in previous blogs. For us, we found that our business was slowly dying and not recovering. It was sped up by changes in the industry we were in and combined with technology, we just could not keep up or compete. So we closed our doors.
While looking back on it I think we made a bold move, it was also a move that was made with many risks. This is normally the case with any type of change. For us, we had back up plans, although we may not have realized that at the time. If you are thinking of making a midlife career change, here are a few tips to help guide you through the transition.
1 – Define What You Need And What You Want
This is about your personal priorities. If you desire changes in your career that give you more freedom or more income, these things have to be considered. If your plan is to slow down and work for yourself rather than for someone else, you have to be clear on your end game. Making the transition just because you are bored with your present job is not always the right answer.
2 – Take A Test Or Two
If you really are not all that certain that this is the time for a midlife career change, there are ways to find out. There are several types of online tools and tests that you can take to help determine your career path. By using these you will be able to better define your career goals and if a change is required, then you’ll have some verifiable proof to back it up.
3 – Don’t Bury The Past
There is a great thing about being able to use our past experiences in the present and future. They help us to understand what our goals actually are and if we achieved them or not. The story of your past work and community activities will show you places where you have been successful and where you have not been. These may give you new career targets to focus on.
4 – See A Career Counsellor
There is nothing wrong with seeking the assistance of a professional. One of the best times to get to know a career coach is when you are considering a midlife career change. The advice and guidance you can receive from a career professional may help you to clarify your path. You may discover that your answer is right in front of you and just needs to be noticed.
5 – Take The Leap
There are times you will never know if you’ve made the right choice if you don’t just go ahead and make the change. In our case, our back up plans turned into our new careers. But had we never considered them as viable options, we would never have ended up where we are now. We trusted our gut and took leaps of faith that paid off as our midlife career changes.
Even though both Brenda and I have two very different career paths we are following in our third quarter transition, they tend to cross often. She works a few days a week in the kitchen creating the products we take vending on weekends and I write daily for dozens of ghostwriting clients. We look to the weekends as our fun time although to others our fun seems to be a lot of work.
I think it really depends on your perspective. We work hard all week to get the break we enjoy when we go vending. I know, vending is hard work but for some reason both Brenda and I don’t see it like that. We sort of see our weekends as the opposite. The vending part is the fun part because we get to interact with various people who taste Brenda’s unique products.
Vending actually puts us out there so that we can meet new people and socialize in a very different way. We all know that sharing food is a great way to get to know someone else. It is a huge socializing activity. I think what we’ve somehow stumbled upon in our vending activities is a way to interact with people in a different way through offering taste samples of our products.
A fine example occurred today while on site at the Oliver Indoor Flea Market in Oliver, BC. We were invited to visit a couple of our customers to socialize on their deck once the weather improves. We’ve already taken up a couple of offers of overnight stays with other vendors and find that our personal approach to what we are doing while vending has opened many doors.
If I had to pin it down to something specific, I would have to say that it has to do with our attitude. We vend for fun. Sure, we want to pay our way and cover associated costs but generally speaking, we don’t have pressure to make each vending date one that has to make us some money. We vend because we enjoy doing something together that we find fun to do.
Are we unusual? Not really. Many of the other vendors we have gotten to know in Oliver are pretty much the same as us. They enjoy hanging out together, laughing, joking and just becoming closer friends. Yes, the sales figures at the end of each vending day have an impact but they are not as important as the interaction with others in the same venue that we get along with.
To give you an idea, there are approximately a half dozen or so of us vendors in the one room in the Oliver Indoor Flea Market who have built a kind of friendship. We all take turns each weekend on who is going to bring a group lunch to share with the rest of us. It cycles back to what I said about sharing our taste samples with customers to get to know them better.
Brenda and I look forward to the hour and 45-minute drive to Oliver each Saturday and Sunday morning because we know a couple of things. We will be spending those days with people we like, getting to know more new people who visit the market, and we will be doing this together. It’s that time when our career paths cross but we turn it into a fun couple of days vending.
So you could say that our third quarter transition includes a healthy serving of fun. With such a huge portion of fun we have been able to either push away or eliminate the stresses that used to dominate our lives. In a way, we have turned a negative into a positive and are running with it. I know for a fact both Brenda and I are really happen where we are now in our lives and it would never have happened if we didn’t turn vending into an opportunity to have fun and meet others.
We haven’t been out of town for a couple of weeks now. I’ve been attending various meetings but both Brenda and I are starting to show the signs of cabin fever. We would like to see the snow disappear, some green on the ground and more sunlight in the sky. I think that’s what made me think the other day that February is such a short month so it feels as if winter passes quickly.
The sad truth is that we had to cancel out of one of our out of town vending dates a week ago because of another heavy dump of snow. Although we did not get as much as was predicted, six inches in one day was enough to cause us to just stay home. We turned it into a ‘snow day’ and watched DVDs for the entire day resting comfortably under blankets in the bedroom.
It is times like this that I pause and think about what we would have been doing instead back before our third quarter transition. I know that there would have been no rest and that the daily grind of our business would have dictated that at least one of us had to be at the office. Now that the office is upstairs and the demands of work have shifted so much, I appreciate the change.
I suspect that I will encounter this on a regular basis throughout this year. It will mark our second year (in July) of closing our storefront business. It will also mark our fourth year of doing the things we were doing as hobbies that have since become our new careers. Not many days go by where I don’t think about the progress we have made and the smooth transition that happened.
There is no doubt in my mind that what we are doing now in our lives is pretty close to what we are supposed to be doing in our lives. I say that because it feels right. It really does fit like a glove. Both Brenda and I have found our niches. It’s such a comfortable fit that even if we have to cancel something due to weather, it’s minor. It’s no longer a major inconvenience.
We even have a relatively clear idea of how we want to approach the coming year with our home-based businesses. I think the past couple of years have helped to prepare us for this moment. The moment where we start to further define what we will and will not do as part of our growing business plans. It’s a great feeling to have this much control for a change.
While neither of us has any preconceived notions of what we expect to happen for us in 2018, we both know this year will be a year of definition. In a way, both of us have embraced the third quarter transition and are about to fine tune it to the place where everything seems to fall right into place. We couldn’t think about doing any of this until the fit became comfortable for us which is where we happen to be now. It fits and feels right. Now is the time to work with that.
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.