After a layoff, a firing, a mid-life change of heart, the discovery of a new talent, or exposure to a new and irresistible opportunity, you’ve decided that it’s time to switch careers and start your professional life over again…from the very beginning. You’re going back to square one, and you know this is the right move for you.
But you also know that you’re going to encounter some challenges along the way. And some of these challenges may be daunting enough to make you question your decision. Here are a few ways to stay motivated and on track as you face the courageous choices ahead of you.
Keep your perspective.
So you’re making a leap from one career path to another— business to healthcare, for example, or sales to law. But this isn’t a life or death matter. Your new direction may bring you perfect happiness, or perfect misery, or (most likely) something in between. But no matter what, you can always transition back or make another decision altogether. You’re in control, and no career decision amounts to a life sentence. There’s no need to overthink or overestimate the stakes.
It’s been years since you’ve entered a classroom and faced challenges like essays and final exams. Your professor may be decades younger than you, and the students around you may struggle with the simplest concepts. At the same time, they may easily grasp complex material that boggles your mind and makes you want to give up in despair. In either case, be patient—with yourself and with others around you. Everyone’s journey is different. Respect theirs and respect your own.
You’re an adult now, and that’s okay.
There’s no need to become besties with the 20-year-olds who suddenly surround you at school or in your entry-level position. And there’s also no need to hustle out the door after class or after work assuming you have nothing in common with them and not bothering to find out. Accept that you’re an adult, and the people around you are kids, but that doesn’t mean you can’t connect or that you don’t belong among them. Just relax and be yourself.
You’re better at learning new material than you used to be.
That’s the whole point of wisdom and experience—it makes us smarter. So use those grown-up smarts to your advantage, and make the connections between information and experience that were unavailable you years ago when you first entered the workforce. When you have a question, ask. When you have something to share or explain, do so. Don’t limit yourself.
You can do this. What you’re doing may feel completely novel, and you may see only a handful of people around you (or none at all) who are starting over in mid-life the way you are. But this is an illusion—thousands of others have come this way before you, and you’re by new means the first to blaze this trail. Even more important: if this is the best path to your next step, then it’s the best path. The only way to put these challenges behind you is to keep moving. Tackle one step and one day at a time. Before long, you’ll be using what you learned in your previous career to handle your new responsibilities like a pro.
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1 thought on “Guest Post: Starting Over From Scratch: 5 Things to Keep In Mind during Your Career Transition”
Thank you for this career advice. Its useful!