I began my midlife crisis at 18. As a pragmatic artist (a blog for another time) I was just trying to get a jump on feeling the kind of angst novice writers think they need to put pen to paper. They don’t. In the words of Chuck Close, “Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.”
Looking back it wasn’t a very optimistic assessment of my longevity. Once you flip the odometer on 40 you begin to renegotiate your potential midpoint. These days I’m thinking 75, though I’d likely have to get frisky with the undead to make that happen. Either that or jog and I hate jogging.
Regardless of your personal midpoint, when contemplating a career change it’s important to first understand your motivation for switching. Specifically, are you running from something e.g. a bad boss, a soul-sucking job, or an organization whose leadership occasionally displays questionable ethics? Or are you running toward something e.g. a more lucrative and/or fulfilling position, a chance to lead and leave a legacy, or an opportunity to give back? Ideally, career changes are Jordan-like – “I’ve reached the pinnacle in this endeavor. It’s time to move on and try something new.”
Career changes, especially dramatic ones can be incredibly rewarding. That said prior glory is no guarantee of future success. Just ask Mike about striking out in the minors. So before you jump to the what, how, and when of your big move, consider the why. Some helpful questions to get you started are:
- What have I achieved thus far in my career? Of what am I most proud?
- What aspects of my current career would I like to continue in the next profession?
- What parts frustrate me that I would like to leave behind?
- In six months will I look back on this transition as a timely, graceful exit or an emergency rush out of a stressful situation?
Changing careers means altering your professional purpose and brand. Before making a move it’s important to take stock of where you are, what you’ve achieved, and what you want the rest of your working life to be about. Money is always a factor, but in the end, time is the greatest asset we have. How would you like to spend yours?
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