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The Ledger - Est. 1978 - Knoxville Edition

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VOL. 42 | NO. 20 | Friday, May 18, 2018

Rethink how you look at career as you grow older

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If you’re like most people, you think you’re the only one. Everything was fine for the first 20 years of your career. You were focused. You were happy. You were going up the ladder. Then you hit an age. Maybe it was 30 or 40 or 50. But suddenly, everything changed.

You are no longer happy at your current job. Something just isn’t right. But nothing has really changed all that much. And, still, somehow you just aren’t satisfied.

It’s so confusing. Chances are good that you worked your entire career to get to where you are. You’re at the top of the mountain. And yet it seems like maybe you were climbing up the wrong mountain. It can make you question everything you’ve worked for.

If this has happened to you, don’t worry. You’re not alone. I talk to multiple people every day who are having this very same experience.

We’re all just so secretive that we don’t talk about these feelings and thoughts out loud to each other. I wish we would. But, it seems that this kind of sharing might seem to indicate that we have failed in some way.

I prefer to look at it a little different. It’s more like this: You’ve conquered your original goal (the first mountain), and now you’re ready for a new one.

The priorities in your life have shifted. So maybe you are no longer as motivated by money. Perhaps your retirement account is at a good place. Or alternatively, maybe money motivates you more. Perhaps you want to catch up on your retirement savings.

Maybe you’ve learned more about yourself. You really don’t like managing people after all. Or you really don’t want to work in a creative atmosphere where the expectation of producing new content never seems to go away.

Whatever it is, you’ve simply grown. You’ve changed. Growth and change are both good things. And they’re an inevitable part of life.

Making a change midcareer doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It doesn’t mean you’ll fail in the future. Your priorities have just evolved. It’s time to find something new that better aligns with your new goals and your new direction.

Start small. You won’t find the answer tomorrow. And you probably won’t find it in your head, thinking for hours, devising the perfect solution. The answer most likely doesn’t exist in any certain personality test either.

Almost always, this career change happens by doing. It happens by getting out there and having conversations with other people in different lines of work. It happens by researching various companies. It happens by volunteering for projects outside of your comfort zone. It happens by trying new things, to find what works and what doesn’t.

Career change is not an easy process, but the journey will take you to where you’re mean to be: a new life that is in alignment with your current and future priorities.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.