The Midlife Career Change: Taking Risks & Thinking Outside the Box
Midlife career change leap

Change is hard, yes, but change is also necessary. It’s best to just embrace it. Don’t fight it. A midlife career change might be scary, but it is also exciting. If you maintain a positive attitude and keep an open perspective then change can work out for you every single time. Promise.

I found my dream job at 36 – thirty six!

Until recently, I was like most people. I realized I was halfway through my work life and at the job I presumed I would remain at for another 20+ years. However, even in that comfort, I NEVER became complacent. You’ll hear it said all the time: “Complacency is a killer.” People say it because it’s true. Listen. Really listen to people when they talk. Like myself, even if you’re not looking for a new opportunity it is always important to keep all of your doors open and keep that welcome mat out. You never know who or what may step through that open door. And you never know what you might see outside that open door if you take a second to glance up from your busy life every so often.

I never say no to an opportunity. You just never know where it might lead. Something  small like a simple text could turn into something wonderfully magical and large, like a new job opportunity or an entirely new career path. OR, if you’re lucky like me–and I hope you are–it could be BOTH.

At 36 years old, I still think very often fondly of my school days, nearly two decades after the fact. I am enamoured with the idea of going back to school but for me it’s something that’s just not going to fit into my life at the moment. I also don’t believe that one can truly go back. I was blessed with an incredibly well rounded educational experience the first time and don’t see that happening again so I would look for other learning opportunities.

Even when I’m employed as a full time graphic designer I always make time for freelance or passion projects. I don’t like being idle and university gave me my Doctorate in ‘Burning the Candle at Both Ends’ so while I LOVE to sleep it’s never been a necessity in surviving my day to day. I’ll help anyone and take on any project as long as it’s new or interesting to me. New things are the best. There is something so satisfying about starting something new. There’s something even more satisfying about finishing it and knowing that you killed it. The more things you start, the more things you can finish. It’s a rewarding cycle.

The Midlife Career Change (Image 01) (1)

So I decided to leave the comfortable and familiar decade-old job for something new and exciting, which is how I ended up at KEEN. It was a hard decision to make but one I would make again in a heartbeat. One thing that I learned through this process is that the harder the decision, the more likely you should – and probably will end up doing it anyway. So, don’t sweat it, just save yourself (and your significant other) the agony and just do it.

Needless to say, it kind of worked out for me. I took a giant leap and ended up getting my cake and being able to eat it too. (The naysayers would have you believe that this NEVER happens. But I am living proof that it can and it has.) (Oh and the cake was delicious by the way. It was Black Forrest. My favourite. Yum.) I was able to find a job in my field. This was a step up that proverbial ladder and allowed me much more creativity and freedom than I’ve ever had before.

Those of you who are employed as artists and designers can probably relate. We’re promised all of this creative freedom and fun (usually in school) and usually it just doesn’t happen (in the workplace). I’m sure that anyone in any career EVER can relate. It’s important to remember why you picked that job, why you learned that skill and why you were so happy when you started doing it. It’s important to get back to that place and that feeling. It does exist. Sure, some people get there right away. Unfortunately for most of us, the perfect situation of a worker-job relationship ending in a long and happy marriage are few and far between. What is important is that you never close your eyes. Always be open. Always be looking for a new opportunity. It could be or it could lead to THAT opportunity. Yes, THAT one. It’s out there.

Sit down and decide what’ll make you happy in your day-to-day ‘9-5’ work life and strive for it. Each day do something that’ll get you closer to that goal. Flirt with social media, build your contacts or just dream. After all is said and done, that 9-5 is 40+ hours a week…that is your life. Those people you grind away with day after day are your family. Don’t just like it and them. Don’t just tolerate it and them. LOVE THEM.

If you aren’t there or can’t get there then just keep finding and making opportunities for yourself. Never give up on the dream. It does exist. Be open to change and learning new things.

The past 5 months at my new job have been pretty intense at times. I’ve basically committed myself to learning a trade and an entirely new set of skills. Our giant industrial laminator doesn’t terrify me anymore! Lucky for me I had become quite disenfranchised with my old career direction and university education and have been lusting over being a trade person for the past few years, but like a lot of people at this stage in the workforce, I didn’t want to ‘start over’. Ugh. Gross. No way.

Luckily I didn’t have to start over and neither do you! Just have a positive outlook on the ‘new’ and ‘unknown’. Perspective is key. It’s not ‘the glass is half empty or half full’ thing. Fuck the glass. It’s a ‘I’m going to keep chasing and grinding and hustling’ thing. It’s ACTUALLY a ‘taking in the positive experiences and learning from the negative experiences’ thing. So keep your head up and keep climbing! If I can do it, I have no doubt that you can too. I’d wish you good luck but you won’t need it…YOU GOT THIS!

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