Lots of my coaching clients want to make changes to their career, either radically, through ‘sliding and morphing’ into other areas, or by making small tweaks to bring new interests or better balance. I’m often asked- ‘When is it too late to have a change of direction?’, ‘Am I too old’? I’m fascinated by professionals’ careers and am always curious to know more, so when I met a colleague recently who had changed career age 48, I was keen to learn more about his experiences. In short, he’s now aged 64, he has no plans to retire and positively wants to keep on doing what he’s doing now for another 20 years. What an inspiration to anyone who’s feeling stuck and concerned that they have no options!
For many, retirement is the holy grail that workers are holding on for, the light at the end of the tunnel after a long, difficult slog to the day when freedom awaits. For those who are currently mid-career, the prospect of hanging on for another 10-30 years in an unhappy job can be very demotivating; and yet the reality of retirement is often a disappointment when a loss of role and boredom kick in, perhaps compounded by ill health. The recent book ‘The Hundred Year Life’ by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, shows how we are all living much longer and are likely to want or need to work far longer than the baby boomer generation. People in their 40s are now realising that they may be working until their 70s or 80s, and it is predicted that more and more people will be having multiple careers and career changes over the course of a longer working life.
Preparing for a long and varied career can be very demanding as the forces maintaining the status quo are very powerful. Career coaching with me is based on my 25 years experience in the field of behaviour change science, and helps you to get clear on what really matters to you- your ‘chosen life directions’- as well as supporting you to make decisions, to take action to move you ever closer to the direction you really want to be going in, and to develop ways of coping with the current situation in the meantime. New ways of learning such as MOOCs (massive open online courses) and other distance learning options mean that accessing new skills and knowledge can now be gained at any age. There are trade-offs in decisions of course, but consciously chosen career choices in line with one’s own values really does enable the prospect of a hundred year life – and the seventy year career – to be a gift and not a curse.