5 Steps to a New You: How to Gracefully Change Careers Late in Life

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JLP Staff

Aging Well /

When we’re young, we envision life like a linear process: finish high school, go to college, get a job, get married, have kids, retire. 

One of the biggest lessons we learn as we age is that life is full of surprises, and things rarely go exactly as planned!

Our desire for change and excitement changes as we age, but it certainly doesn’t go away. Happiness is important no matter how old you are, and having a job you enjoy is a big part of it.

If you’re working the typical 9-5, your job accounts for about 30% of your time. It’s no surprise that being unhappy with work can affect other aspects of your life. 

Having a job that makes you unhappy could have negative side effects like weight gain, a weakened immune system and relationship problems. 

So no matter why your job is weighing on you, if it make you miserable it’s time to find something new

If the devil on your shoulder is telling you it’s too late, prove him wrong with these 3 steps to a smooth career transition in any stage of life.

Identify Your Mission

If you’re deciding to transition to a career that makes you happier, it’s important to first create apersonal mission statement. A personal mission statement is a manifesto that helps not only clear up what your goals are, but express the reason behind them. 

  1. First reflect on the outside world. Jot down anyone you admire or anyone on  career paths you’ve envied in the past. List the qualities they possess that make them appealing to you. 
  2. Next, turn inward and reflect on yourpersonal core values and skills.  Begin by giving yourself the credit you deserve by also writing down your past successes. Don’t worry about how big of a deal it was for everyone else. If you were proud of it, it’s worth listing. 
  3. Narrow down your core values. Begin by simply writing down the things that are most important to you and why. Include any special priorities you have. After you make a large list, narrow it down to 5-7 values. 
  4. What makes you unique? List the special skills you can contribute to the career you choose. 
  5. List your goals. Take into consideration what you dislike or would like to grow away from in your current career. Your disapproval of these things may be a sign that they weren’t serving your goals. 
  6. Review and reflect on everything you wrote down. Note any recurring things, and summarize your notes to a 1-2 sentence summary. Example: To serve as a positive example of the pursuit of passion to my family by serving the community and sharing my artistic talents. 

List your transferable skills

You might be surprised at the amount of skills you’ve developed over the years and how many companies could use them. 

It may help to break your transferable skills into the following categories: 

  • Past work experience: List everything from clerical work to more conceptual skills like being a self-starter or clear communicator.
  • Education: List more than just your degrees — dig deeper to evaluate what skills you gained from your education that may not have been on the rubric. 
  • Volunteer experience: Give yourself credit for everything from your church bake sale to being a chaperone at your child’s dance. All of these things require special skills you may have overlooked!
  • Personal interests and hobbies: In a study conducted in 2015 that surveyed wealthy people who liked their jobs vs. wealthy people who felt passionate about their jobs, the ones who were passionate were discovered to be making about $4 million a year more than their counterparts. 

Make a list of the things that spark you so when they pop up in a job description, you’ll be able to spot them. 

Learn New Skills

By now you should have a better idea of the kind of career you’d like to tackle. 

Identify anylearning gapsthat may stand between you and your pursuit of this passion, and find a way to educate yourself while you’re on the hunt. 

There are plenty of online resources for flexible, low-cost job training

  • U.S Department of Labor One-Stop Career CentersThese handy job training centers are found in all 50 states. Not only do they offer a wide variety of skill training, but they can also connect you with scholarships and financial aid for higher education.
  • College and Trade Schools: Many colleges and trade schools offer graduate job training for free or low cost. Ask for the online option if you need more flexibility. 
  • Union Associations: Being part of a union association qualifies you for free or sliding scale job training through organizations like GoodwillAARP, and Monster

Be sure to also research whether any licenses or certifications will be needed for the position you’ve got your eye on.

Update Your Resume

Paint a new picture of your skills by updating your resume to highlight skills that are specific to the career your seeking. 

With over 4 million companies using LinkedIn, this platform is a vital place to keep your resume and career information. 

Not only does it create a portfolio of you past achievements, but it allows you to apply for jobs as well as be sought out by recruiters

There are plenty of comprehensive guides and cheatsheets to help you create a LinkedIn profile and effectively network on the platform.


They weren’t lying when they said it’s all about who you know! According to a recent survey, 85% of all jobs are filled through networking. 

Don’t know anyone in the industry you’re seeking yet? Not to worry! Check sites like meetup.com to be looped in on industry networking events. 

While in-person networking is ideal, reach out on online platforms like LinkedIn to introduce yourself to others in the industry you want to transition to. 

Once you start gaining network connections, you can begin turning them into mentors through features like LinkedIn’s Career Advice

By clicking “Career Advice” under your Linkedin profile image, you can answer a few questions about your needs and preferences. LinkedIn will then connect you with the person most likely to have all the advice you need!

You might even get a mentor out of it! In the meantime make a mentor out of ladies who have paved the way with the reading habits of 5 successful women >  

Categories: Aging Well
About The Author
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Joan Lunden’s in-house research and writing team works with Joan to create content that complements her focuses and the interests of her fans. The team is dedicated to creating a thriving community through content and conversations, and hopes their work, like Joan’s, can make a difference in the lives of her readers everywhere.

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