Am I too old? Is it too late? Am I really going to find something that is more satisfying? Is this the best that I can get? These are some of the questions I receive from clients who come in for career counseling and are thinking about making transitions in their careers. Before I share my thoughts and how I answer those questions with clients, let me start by telling you a little bit about myself!
I am a career transitioner.
I started a career in business after I graduated from Miami University (the one in Ohio!) with a degree in Marketing and Decision Sciences. I worked in retail as a fashion buyer for large corporations, including American Eagle Outfitters and Pacific Sunwear (PacSun), for the first 10 years of my career. By all metrics, I was thriving. My job was challenging, exciting, and it gave my ability to travel all over the world. I managed $100M+ businesses and was on the track up the corporate ladder. But, I was deeply unsatisfied. I barely saw my partner. I missed out on countless weekends with friends. I spent more time with my cell phone and on email, and my anxiety and stress levels were through the roof. All those red flags, but I still feared making a change. I struggled with the idea that there was any way out of retail. I kept telling myself the only thing I could do was find a job at another retailer and hope for something better.
By what I view as sheer divine intervention, I started working with an Organizational Psychologist at my job. Working with him made me do the soul searching, self-reflection, and self-assessment that I needed. I won’t bore you with all the steps in between. But, after some entry level psychology courses, the GRE, and trying to balance graduate school applications with a full-time job, I made the decision to pursue my passion for psychology. I accepted a place in the graduate school at Northwestern University in the Fall of 2015 and got my MA in Counseling Psychology. And I feel more fulfilled and satisfied in my career now than ever did before.
My own story is why I became a career counselor. It’s why I am passionate about helping individuals find satisfaction in their career. According to the Conference Board’s annual job satisfaction reports, career satisfaction hovers around 48% annually. That means that there are over 50% of people that are unsatisfied in their career. I see you, I hear you, and I want to help.
So let’s talk about those questions:
Am I too old?
I am not going to answer the same way many people do, “you are never too old to make a change!” While I do believe there is some truth in that statement, I think each individual has to think about what their career goals are: only they can decide if they are too old to make the change based on those goals. If your driving motivation is to retire by a certain age then making sure your finances are in order for retirement will be the driver and ultimate decider if/when/how you make a change.
Is it too late?
This question is similar to the one above. You can always make a change in your career. With unemployment at record lows and businesses thriving, companies are expanding and hiring. Again, each individual and their own career goals and objectives will drive ability to make a career transition. Not every change has to be a full transition (after all, not everyone can go from being a lawyer to a tennis coach!). Small changes can have big pay-offs in satisfaction – we can work to identify ways to change organizations or positions, making changes outside of work, or identifying strategies to change one’s current job.
Is there something more satisfying?
Well, how do you know if you aren’t out there searching? I practice and coach the idea of always networking and building relationships with others. You need to be out there talking with people even when you aren’t looking. The attitude of “You never know, you never know, you never know,” allows people to have an adventurous attitude that can ultimately help you find something more satisfying. Sometimes those things pop up before you are ready to make the leap, but at least you have made the contact.
Is this the best I can get?
You need to do the work to understand the good and the bad of your current job and industry. I work with clients about job elements that are essential to their career. We identify aspects where they can be flexible, as well as job traits that they must absolutely have in order to be satisfied. We also talk about the things that you need to avoid in your career. Until you have that honest conversation with yourself and understand these elements, you can’t know if there is something that may be a better fit.
Career transitions come with fear and a lot of different questions. I am someone who can help you answer those questions and interpret the fear you may be experiencing around transitioning your career. There is importance and great value in having people, resources, friends, and family guide you through the career transition process. I hope if you are someone who is exploring a career transition I meet you in my office soon. We can tackle these difficult questions and process together!