Managing career change in your 50s

by MSM Coaching on 25th November 2012

Today, one's 50s are increasingly regarded as the prime of life. After a career working for someone else, or plying a trade perhaps for the same organisation, it's not unusual for many people in their fifth decade to want to try something else.

In many cases, such aspirations remain fanciful daydreams; for one in five (according to recent research from the Careers Advice Service) they are the starting point for a new career. While this choice is often freely made, it's being forced on others through the current downturn, which is seeing more than 1,000 over-50s lose their jobs every month. Worse still, anecdotal evidence suggests this age group faces ongoing recruitment discrimination despite legislation designed to prevent it.

However you arrive at this mid-life crossroads, it's likely you won't have a map to tell you which direction to take, or a guide to show you the way. It will be difficult enough to step off the roller-coaster to think about yourself and where you want to go, and almost impossible should you have been thrown off already and need to rally yourself for a fresh challenge.

A foil for the big decisions

Increasingly organisations both large and small have been seeking the assistance of business coaches to light the path of owner-managers and busy executives. And as with all things in business, there's value in adopting what others have already found to be successful, particularly as a foil for arriving at the big decisions.

Look at it this way. Changing course is not to be taken lightly. You may just be a few years off retirement yet still have family to consider and a mortgage to pay off. Even if children have already flown the nest, there are always other financial matters to be considered - your pension, for example (unless you plan on working into your 70s - and if you do, then you need to factor that decision into your plans as well).

Essentially, it's important you understand the real 'you' before starting a business with your redundancy package, or realising a lifelong career dream. A business coach can help you go about this by providing the objective insight that will help you understand more about yourself, and what you're good at. A coaching programme will prepare you to be at your best by getting to the heart of your life achievements - what your key strengths and skills are - while quantifying your passions and values.

Coaching sessions provide the space for you to be clear about your next steps. Friends and close family may well champion your intentions but will they really challenge your key assumptions and plans and force you to test them outside your comfort zone? Probably not, and for the best of reasons - they are too close to you.

The coach, on the hand, is both professional and entirely objective and will provide a neutral, face-to-face environment backed by strategic email and telephone support that will give you the opportunity to really plan your next move,.

It could take just four to six sessions to set you on the right track, leaving you confident in the knowledge that you are as fully prepared as you can be for that job or career change. By working within this framework you will recognise when you are at your best and are happiest and most fulfilled, having identified the strengths and values that make you tick.

And at this important stage of your life, don't you owe that to yourself?

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