The pandemic did a number on the world and changed our views on a slew of different things. From the simplest of tasks like shopping for cleaning supplies, to the bigger questions of vaccinations and going to work, the pandemic forever altered our daily routines. It forced us to take a hard look at ourselves in ways we previously took for granted. The reflection allows us to question and ponder what happiness actually means. Whatever and however we perceive it, happiness gives us a satisfactory feeling from within. Now, let’s examine how we maintain positivity, balance, and mental health during a midlife career change. 

 

Disruptive Routines

 

When the pandemic was at its height and the country shut down, few people realized the real impact it would have on the workforce. There were obvious and rapid decisions that were immediately implemented; masks and social distancing became the norm. Jobs were cut and home became the office for many. This radical and sudden change forced people to get out of their comfort zones and engage in new ways of working. Zoom calls, MS Teams collaboration sessions, and video conferences all became the de facto method for working and communicating and businesses adjusted and moved forward. This new remote way of working also introduced a relatively new concept that really isn’t new for most of us, work-life balance. It’s something we’ve dealt with for years but always seemed to put on the back burner. For a good portion of the population, we would just grin and bear it and refer to it as the ‘struggle’ or the ‘grind.’ 

 

Remote work crafted a different picture for many of us. Concerns regarding missed buses delayed trains and finding parking all disappeared. Workers found themselves with new free time on their hands as well as additional income saved from no longer commuting and purchasing clothing and goods related to going into the office. This created a significant mind shift in how workers were viewing work-life balance. The importance of family and life outside of work began to occupy a greater space in our minds and we were rethinking the value of things that once had greater significance.

 

When my son was very young and learning to take his first steps, I happened to be working on a big project and spending an exorbitant amount of time and energy on it. I remember the day he took that first step. There wasn’t a bigger moment in either one of our lives at that moment. A day or so later I was recounting the story to my mom and said how lucky I felt to have been there. I asked her if she remembered any of the first steps from me or my siblings and her answer was startling. My mom said she couldn’t be there for these milestones because there were 3 of us and only two of them and there were many bills to pay, While I understood the practicality in what she was saying, on another level I was having trouble justifying something I’ve done professionally that was even remotely close to a personal once in a lifetime event. This memory has always stuck with me even though my son is 20 now. The changing landscape of the working environment now gives us the freedom to look at these moments and determine their importance in our lives. For many, these moments will become the driver for the careers and opportunities we take on, while others may forgo these moments and continue on the dedicated work path. In either situation, it forces us to ask ourselves what matters most professionally vs personally, and often this leads to the realization that it may be time for a career change. 

 

We’re supposed to be happy at work!

 

So how does a career change bring about happiness you ask? Consider that the average American spends approximately ⅔ of their waking hours working. That’s the better percentage of your day every day. The importance of being happy in our careers can impact all aspects of our lives. The stress associated with work has been linked to cardiovascular disease, hypertension, musculoskeletal problems, and a slew of others according to the American Psychological Association. It would only seem logical that we would want to be happy but there are a host of reasons that historically prevented workers from seeking this utopia. For many mid-career changers, the pressures and responsibilities associated with family life are a huge impediment. Reductions in earnings coupled with an unsteady job market strike fear in the mid-career individuals and they retreat to the unpleasant but bearable careers they currently hold. 

 

One would think the pandemic would have solidified these beliefs and people would have held onto jobs like they did toilet paper in the early days of the shutdown, but interestingly enough the exact opposite happened. Individuals began assessing the importance of life events vs their careers. The free time and money that individuals were accumulating as a result of reduced commuter costs, limited clothing expenditures as well as zero commute times made workers reassess what they valued in life. We are now in a situation where a mid-career change is going to become commonplace. The Great Resignation is underway but that doesn’t mean people aren’t nervous or afraid of the consequences. Reduced wages, hostile environments, lower benefits, and the like are all possible as a result of giving up your current job. However increasingly we are seeing more and more workers trading off perks for happiness. It’s a stressful situation no doubt, but finding the right career can rejuvenate and change your life in ways that go well beyond the paycheck. 

If you’re like many Americans and are thinking about a career change, don’t just rush into it. You spent a lot of time building the life you have and you want to find ways to enhance it not make it more stressful. Here are a few things that you can do to help you navigate your way through this new landscape.

Finding your Zen

Before you walk into your boss’s office and tell him/her ‘they can take this job and shove it!’, let’s take a few things into consideration first.

Step 1: Align Your Values

The first thing we should do is understand what our personal values are and decide if our organization aligns with them. Are you a supporter of inclusion and diversity and does your organization support that? Do you value building financial products for the wealthy or would you rather use your business savvy to develop better ways to bring food to impoverished areas of the country. These are questions that only you can address and are an important first step in seeking the 

 
STEP 2: DETERMINE HOW YOU WANT TO ENTER YOUR NEW FIELD

Do you want to make a splash or just dip your toe in the water? This is an issue you will need to address and plan for when you decide to change careers. Much of this historically was determined by need and commitments. ‘If I need to eat then I cannot afford to be out of a job’ was the prevailing thought and to this day holds a lot of weight. However, today’s worker is looking at this dilemma a little differently and has more options these days. You could enter your new job via full-time work, the splash, or you could pick up a side hustle and slowly get your feet wet. The choice is yours!

 
Step 3: Get Smarter

A new job comes with new experiences and new challenges and no one expects you to know it all. That being said you’re also no spring chicken so being a complete neophyte isn’t going to win you any allies either. A big part of what you will need to do is immerse yourself in the areas pertinent to your career change. Certification programs, E-Learning, and YouTube all offer instructional information on a vast amount of topics and gleaning some knowledge from them will benefit you in the long run.

 

 

Step 4: Don’t Mess with My Money

The decision to change careers comes with significant risks that you will need to plan for if you embark on this journey. Changing careers while maintaining a family and having responsibilities is not something to take lightly. The impact on daily spending, insurance, savings, and retirement are all at stake. Your decision to change careers should include considerations that impact your family as well as your finances. Costs for things like school transportation, childcare, college tuition, and retirement must be factored in and addressed especially if there are to be breaks in employment or the move to a new career comes with greater free time but less compensation. Having a sufficient nest egg to carry you and your family through this transition is going to be key to helping you find happiness on the other side.

STEP 5: NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK

I’m sure you’ve heard it before but I’m going to say it again, Network, Network, Network! Let’s be honest, you’ve been around the block, you know a bunch of people and you recognize the importance of personal relationships in business. Those three facts alone should be enough to motivate you to up your networking game. But just in case you missed it, networking will be crucial for you if you want to change careers, especially if your journey has you in a new industry altogether. You need not fear these encounters and you  don’t even need to be the extroverted type to network these days. Using social media sites and tools like Linkedin & Instagram gives the job seeker even greater opportunities to seek out new connections and get their name out there. Don’t be afraid to reach out to an old colleague or friend. Take the opportunity to reintroduce yourself and give your pitch. Develop your current soft skills by continuously practicing your pitch and you will be networking like the pro you know you are.

 

 

Step 6: Update Your Resume 

I know as you read this last step you’re probably thinking, finally something easy to do! Not so fast. Updating your resume is no longer as easy as getting on MS Word and banging it out. For the mid-career changer, there’s much more to it. You must craft a happy balance between showing your skills and accomplishments in your old career while highlighting those characteristics that will serve you well in the new one. This carefully honed document not only needs to highlight your skills, but it also needs to meet the requirements of online applicant tracking systems as well as contain keywords relevant to your experience and the position you are desiring. Not exactly the easy task you thought it would be. 

The reality of Step 6 actually goes beyond updating your resume. It’s at this point that you’re really getting into the game. Aside from your resume, you need to be prepared on many levels. From the initial alignment of your values to researching new fields to planning, training, and preparing for your next journey, the road is long and time is short. This is where a company like Noveo can be really beneficial for job seekers. Noveo is an AI platform designed to help achieve greater professional and financial success using a customized approach to an individual’s job search. Noveo employs artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive analytics to help users develop a career plan that’s in line with their career goals and objectives. Noveo clients receive a breakdown of potential career options as well as a comprehensive packet detailing the steps required to achieve satisfying careers in the fields they desire.

They say ‘the greatest challenge in life is discovering who you are. The second greatest is being happy with what you find!’ Covid-19, social issues, and work-life balance have all taken their toll on the American worker. For far too long we have felt beaten down and shackled to careers that we ’needed’ to help make us happy, but that’s no longer true. Nowadays we are finding that happiness goes well beyond money. While money is obviously important, so too are the values we hold dear. The Pandemic has proven that tomorrow is not promised, today is the day to start finding your best life

 

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