At fifty, many of us feel we finally know what we are doing professionally, have a lot to offer others, and are wiser than ever before. On the other hand, we may also be sensing that this is our last chance to make our mark on the world; that our energy, while strong, is beginning to wane; and that others – amazingly – see us as ‘old’. Are these some of the career challenges you are facing at 40 or 50?
If this is your situation, how do you think about your career?
Broadly, you are likely to be in one of 3 situations and facing 3 main potential career challenges:
1) In a job, but feeling unfulfilled, and perhaps beginning to be bored.
2) In a job, but feel that changes are coming, and you may not be there much longer
3) Out of work.
In each situation, the key to is take control of your career by putting yourself through a process of thinking about your options, and then taking action.
This is one of 3 blogs covering the above three situations that you could be facing as career challenges at 50. So to start with the first:
What keeps most of us in a job we find unsatisfactory are the benefits: the stability, status, package, accumulated knowledge and expertise. But if you are chaffing at the bit, and facing ten or fifteen years before you retire, these may not be enough.
In social studies, there is a hierarchy of questions which might help you to understand where you are. If you ask yourself how are you doing and you reply “ok, has been better – just tough at the moment” – the subtext could be......I am ok with this place/this situation. We are running hard as we have a tight deadline or someone’s on holiday. That sounds ok – it’s a tactical response and you are probably mainly ok.
If you ask yourself what is going on? You may answer differently; perhaps along the lines of “we are shifting focus. There’s a new crew in charge and they are going in a different direction”. This sounds more strategic and there may be issues arising for you which challenge your approach, your values perhaps. It is at a different level of importance anyway.
The next question you could pose is “why am I doing this?” This may be an irrelevant question. If so, then great. If you think about it seriously and find there are big issues for you, this is at a level which could be more profound for you and your working life. This may be the point at which you ask yourself if you are happy to stay in this situation or whether you wish to shift your world. Safety is important. Staying unfulfilled is a choice that for some is not acceptable.
With age and experience comes wisdom. We are not always great at appreciating just what we are able to contribute as we gain wisdom. It is easy to under appreciate ourselves and the contribution that we can make. We might be self-deprecating (a wonderful British trait), we might carry regrets; we might have lousy feedback from the workplace and in our domestic lives. Never forget thought that as you travel through your life, it is becoming richer and you have more to give.
It is possible to understand and appreciate your value. You have to take some time to do it though. You might just surprise yourself and find a route to greater fulfillment.
Experiment with asking yourself these questions:
- What do I need to do to keep myself learning, in terms of technology, visions, leadership?
- How do I stay fit and healthy enough to work productively?
- How do I manage myself so that I balance the demands of work, home, and family?
If you are facing your own career challenges at 50 - let us know what your story is. Have you managed to overcome your challenges? What have you learned? Or if you're looking for some support - drop us a line now: firstname.lastname@example.org - to find out what your options are!
Author: Simon North
For more articles like this explore more of the Position Ignition Career Blog