Midlife career change:
On the journey to career freedom, you won't travel alone.
"Self-help books are written for people who are living on
an island. What am I supposed to do with my family while I'm
writing up these dare-I-dream stories?"
transition, especially those involving career or relocation,
will involve others. As fictional detective Sharon McCone says,
a journey doesn't mean much if it's not shared.
Family obligations can be obstacles
but social support is an essential component of your . They extend your supply of money, just as a wildnerness
supply pack is designed to extend your supply of food with matches,
blankets and (in my Alaskan days) a shotgun.
On a career journey, you can
stretch your money through social and personal support. Feeling
isolated can lead to frustration and, ultimately, lower-quality
decisions that cost money and time. The challenge is to not only
maintain but also to revitalize your support system as you grow
in new directions.
Wanted: A new support system.
Alice enjoyed "doing lunch"
with peers and clients on her job. Every Friday, her department
met for its own happy hour at the local pub. Drinking was optional
but relaxation was taken for granted.
As she planned her midlife career
change, Alice realized she would be older than many of her new
peers. Her life experience and hard-earned standard of living
would set her apart.
Alice identified new sources
of professional support, including her college alumni association,
professional organizations, a women's support group, art museum
boards, and book clubs. She could also take advanced classes
at a local university. By creating this network before she started
her new career path, Alice would maintain her sense of identity
through the transition.
Include the family in your career planning.
When Thomas was offered a position
at a prestigious university, he told his wife, "I need to
work extra hours for the next few years. I won't be around as
much as I would like. But this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
and I don't want to mess it up."
Today Thomas is a tenured full professor at this university.
His family recently accompanied him on a memorable to the French
countryside, where he held a visiting position. Now he has ample
time to spend with his wife and children and the family has a
solid financial base.
Thomas's decision won't work
for everyone. What works is getting the family on board before
you start the trip.
Some families will be extremely
supportive. They are ready to scale down and make sacrifices
for a new life. Others point out that leaving a home or a school
district will be painful for everyone.
Bottom Line: Career transition is a social process, and your
social support must undergo a transition along with your career.
Social support helps you maintain perspective, focus and motivation.
By incorporating social support into your career transition plan,
you can enjoy a happy and productive journey to career freedom.
Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D.
Author, Career Consultant, Speaker
*Fast Track to Career Freedom*