DON'T LET AGE HOLD YOU BACK FROM EXPLORING NEW OPPORTUNITIES
Last week I had the first of several coaching conversations with a woman in her mid-fifties. She wants to make some changes in her career, but feels stuck.
She said there are days she feels ‘old’ because of her age. This has been fuelled by her belief that younger people will get any jobs she goes for. Although she wants a change, she feels that she ‘should’ stay in her career; she has built-up years of experience.
When I asked what she would do if she could, she had some ideas. She said these were only something a ‘Fairy Godmother’ could grant though.
During our coaching session we talked about her values and how these can change over time. We also chatted about what could be holding her back. She has put the ‘should’ view to one side for a while and is now exploring different career options – to see what might be possible.
If you are feeling stuck in a career these tips can help you take steps towards change:
Complete a 'skills audit' of the skills and experience you have gained to-date - a CV just for you. This could include anything you are proud of; raising a family, volunteering for a charity, gaining a promotion at work, helping a friend out etc. Lots of skills are transferable and this might help you see things from a different perspective.
Ask friends and family what your skills and strengths are and add these to your skills audit; people might see qualities you don't. This can help you think of options for change you hadn't considered before.
Spend time with people who energise you and are role models. Some people just seem ‘young’ no matter what their age – they have a positive outlook on life. Talk to people who made a career change later on in life and ask how they did it.
Consider your values, these can change as you get older. You might want to work for yourself or go part-time. This doesn’t mean you are past your ‘sell by’ date. Neither does it mean you will be less productive. A CIPD report from 2018 includes that ‘higher levels of engagement experienced by working flexibly, can reduce staff turnover by 87%’.
Challenge negative beliefs you have about your age e.g. that you are too old to apply for a certain job or change career. These can hold you back from exploring new opportunities. Companies like these are tapping into the older workforce and recognising the skills, experience and wisdom people have to offer. Research companies that offer a comprehensive training plan as part of their induction and recruit based on values, not a rigid set of skills.
Set goals and take steps each week towards achieving these. Take small steps, to help you gain confidence. If you have a desire to explore a different career, a first step might be to talk to someone who is doing it, to find out what it's like.
Consider updating your skills if you need to, plenty of companies provide on-line training if you want to brush up on or learn new skills. Break down learning into manageable chunks; trying to master Microsoft Office in a week might be unrealistic; completing 5 out of 20 modules of Word using an online learning package, very achievable.
While a Fairy Godmother might not a appear waving her wand, taking positive steps to explore change can open up new opportunities. Remember, with age, comes wisdom and life experience - there is no fast track to this!