A mom’s guide to changing careers:
Fear, insecurity, and uncertainty: my new best friends as I approach 50. My nest is empty. My life of being “mom” and holding down odd jobs that fit in with my family’s busy schedule has ended. It’s time to get out there and find ME. It’s time for a career change. Piece of cake, right? Hold on…
Like so many stay at home moms out there who have found themselves suddenly jobless, I’m scared and don’t know where to start. Sure, a journey begins with a single step but what to do you do when you don’t know WHERE to step first? What do you do when you’re afraid you’ll make a mistake?
I was recently talking to a friend about my younger days before I was married. I was fearless! What happened to that girl? Before I had my son I never considered that life could throw you curve balls and that things can go terribly wrong. I just jumped in. But life can be dangerous. What, with all the sharp coffee table corners and electrical outlets in life, parenthood turned me into a cautious person; into a person who is always planning for the worst case scenario. I’d entered the world of “just in case.” “Just in case the flight is delayed we’d better have a snack bag.”
I’m not saying this is bad within the context of having small children. Just in case is good and smart but, in my case, “just in case,” has made me….gulp….TIMID!
Now anyone who knew me pre-baby would never have described me as timid. I’ve been hiking in the Himalayas for crying out loud! Here I am, though, afraid to take a step, afraid to grab the life that is out there for me.
Recently I’ve been scouring resources for pointers on how to get started on this new journey. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
- You’re only as old as you feel. First and foremost the emphasis on turning 50 has got to disappear. Honestly who knows I’m almost 50 anyway? Who’s business is it anyway? Besides 50 is the new 30 so the title of this little piece could be “Career change at 30” which wouldn’t be considered a big deal at all. So there…30!
- Hire a professional. In an article on monster.com I recently read the advice of “seeking a professional” struck a cord. Why deal with this dilemma on my own? There are professionals out there trained to help those considering a career change.
- Know thyself. Take some time and really think about what you want to do. I know this is easier said than done. In my case I thought back to my childhood. What was I drawn to before life got ahold of me? I know this sounds pretty easy but it’s often not. As a mom you’ve spent maybe half your life putting yourself last. The things that you used to love doing somehow disappeared (remember how you loved swimming? Or biking? Or working puzzles? Yeap, gone and replaced with soccer practices and homework). This process may take awhile so be patient with yourself. What’s your specialty within your home? For me it’s tech stuff. I’m the first one to turn on the video games (I used to love playing Banjo Kazooie with my son!) and I’m the one everyone in the family calls to fix their computer, set up their television, work their modems. Of course I didn’t SEE any of this. One day after a YEAR of being lost and depressed my husband said, “You know, you’re really good with computer stuff…why don’t you look into programming?” He was right and, even though I was a little angry it took him so freakin’ long to speak up, I was grateful for his observation.
- Be forgiving. Eventually someone will point out that they are amazed you’ve picked a particular career path given your age. Ageism is alive and well in our society – it is what it is and you’ve just got to let comments roll right of your back and into your ammo bag. Use the words as the emotional ammunition you’ll use to knock down the walls that stand between you and your goal. When you’re their boss they’ll be singing a different tune!
- Research. Once you’ve selected a career path research what you’ll need to do to break into that path and attack! You have the power to do whatever you need to do. Doubt is natural but don’t let it control you. Remember at one time you doubted a human could pass through your woo-ha but it did. You can do this too. Research and then attack!
Change can be scary. A career change can be downright terrifying! Don’t let fear and uncertainty guide your steps. Arm yourself with knowledge, resources and then hit the road. Your wonderful journey is before you and it begins with your first step.