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Changing Careers in MidLife

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 8 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Changing Careers Returning To School

Midlife, for many people, signifies a time to reexamine their lives and implement any changes that may bring them greater happiness. Sometimes, this assessment of self includes personal relationships, health matters, fitness goals, and career success. Occasionally, a look at a person's place at work and level of satisfaction in the way they earn their living reveals a burning desire to change paths.

Revisiting the Past

One of the questions that adults like to pose to children is, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Most children have ideas about the type of work that they find appealing, but by the time that they are adults, few actually find themselves employed in the careers that they had once imagined. Instead, many people take jobs that meet their immediate needs - rent and food are pretty important motivating factors to get and maintain employment when we are first out on our own! In midlife, however, some people find themselves revisiting the dreams of their youth and seek ways to make those unfulfilled childhood wishes come true.

Life Marches On

Once established in those first career choices, it is not uncommon for life to take hold and before we know it, we are advancing in our careers and getting on with the business of buying homes and building our families. Life can move along pretty quickly and midlife arrives sooner than most people expect. At this stage, some people find that their children are leaving the nest, allowing parents to reconsider what they'd like to accomplish in the last half of their lives. Those who do not find their careers to be either financially or (more likely) emotionally satisfying may wish to look for opportunities to work in a field that they find more appealing.

Back to School

Broad-sweeping career changes often require that middle aged people update their skills in order to be employable. Those who never completed their educations may choose to enrol at a university, either on a part-time or a full-time basis, even though they are likely to be several decades older then the majority of students. Returning to college in midlife can be an overwhelming idea, but those who are serious about changing the course of their careers may have the need to get their skills and knowledge current. Many universities now offer adult education programmes, specifically designed to meet the needs of those who are already busy with other commitments and need flexible class schedules so that they can ready themselves for new careers whilst earning a living from their existing careers.


Changing careers midlife is no easy task - most people just continue on their existing paths, even if those paths doesn't seem to lead to happiness, so embarking on a whole new career requires a sense of confidence and a level of bravery - it's not easy to leave the familiar in hopes of finding a better way! Those who are ready to take the steps needed to change careers in midlife should not underestimate the value of networking. Letting friends, relatives, and even trusted coworkers know that a change is in the works may help to open doors to a new and satisfying career.

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