Discovering / recovering fun & creativity at work

Raymond, a friend of mine, is in his late forties. An avid photographer, he used to own  and operate a photo studio.  After he lost his wife to cancer, he wrapped up the business. Now, he works as a baker in a bakery shop. You can tell that he is enjoying his new vacation.

Ryan,  a software engineer who calls IBM his employer, works part-time as a stand-up comedian.  He is funny, in fact, so funny that he has performed at Fringe Festivals across Canada and the US.

Photography and bakery.  Nobody saw it coming. Writing code and writing jokes.  Who can make the connection?

Changing career is no small feat at any age, and even more so if you are middle-aged.  Be mindful of the following realities before you make the life-changing decision:

  1. Financial impact.
    Your income, at least initially, will most likely be less than before, in fact, much less. Can you survive financially? Are you prepared to be content with less disposable income? Can you be resourceful?
  2. Social impact.
    Do your loved ones support you (even if they don’t understand why you do it)? It is important to be surrounded by supportive friends and family during the hard time that will come. At the same time, are you ready to make some new friends in a different social network?

Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.  – General Dwight D. Eisenhower

Now that I’ve thoroughly painted a bleak picture of the prospects for mid-life career changes, I want to emphasize that some people still do it, and do it well. The key to success is plan ahead,  prepare for it. Some things you can do beforehand are:

  1. Get the proper training and certification.
    This is best done when you still have your old job to pay for the training.
  2. Start saving money.
    At least, pay off your debt.
  3. Build up your support social network.
    Share with your friends about your vision. Don’t spill everything at once. You will quickly learn which of your friends will listen and support you.

A new career can be most invigorating.  Nevertheless, it is a process, something to savor along the way. Please share with us your experience in making career changes.