As a woman over 50, I know starting over in a new career is getting easier. The world of work is changing and that brings many new and exciting opportunities.
As an active woman over 50, it is likely that you will work until you are 70 years old, or even later. That means any new career could be as long as 10, 15, 20+ years. So yes, starting a new career is a great option and really doable for women over 50.
Having decided then that your life isn’t over at 50 and that it is possible to start a new career, what are your options and how should you think about starting over?
Let’s explore what resources, mindset, and steps you can take so you can do work you love while getting paid what you’re worth.
What do you need to know to start a new career over 50?
Commit to taking action
Whatever has been holding you back, and keeping you tied to a job you hate, or frozen by inaction and the thought that you would never get a job you love ever again, it’s time to shift your mindset.
Your lack of confidence and anxiety can be shifted by taking steps, even baby steps, to clear the way for a new working life.
Questions to shift your mindset
- Who do you know that got famous after 50? (Here’s a few to get you started.)
- What difference would it make to your life if you were doing something new and exciting? How would you feel?
- What’s something you’ve always wished you’d done?
- Whose expectations matter most? Yours? Or are you letting those of your friends and family hold too much sway?
This is the time in your life to do what you want. You deserve it!
Careers are changing
The world of work has changed so much and is continuing to change at an accelerated rate. That can be overwhelming, but it’s also exciting as it gives you the opportunity to do things that didn’t exist even 10 years ago.
Working from home, online and remote jobs, freelancing, life coaching, teaching English online, virtual assistant. These are all possibilities that didn’t exist ten years ago. And who knows what we could be doing in five years’ time.
Become the subject of your own research project.
Treat the process of deciding on your next career as a project where you just happen to be the subject of the research. This will help you to be objective.
Deciding on your next career
Look for clues
- What energies you?
- What do you do effortlessly?
- What do you need to be effective?
These are key questions that will give you certainty about your next career.
This is a trick I learned from Jack Canfield in his book, The Power of Focus and I have used these questions with 1,000s of job seekers over the past 20 years.
The theory is if you are doing what energizes you and you can do it easily – then you’ll be great at it. Then if you are able to do it in an environment that supports you to be effective, then you’re really going to rock.
(For more details on this process and a worksheet is available on this article: How 3 Simple Questions Can Get You a Job You Love)
What did you enjoy doing as a child?
What do your friends and family think you are good at? Ask them!
What do you know you are good at? Now is not the time to be shy!
Have you dreamed of becoming self-employed? Why not now?
Don’t put a limit on your thinking at this early stage. It is very easy to stay in our own lane, but I would encourage you to put all ideas on the table at this point.
Retraining, renewing, relearning
Many jobs today don’t require a 3 or 4-year professional degree. While there is nothing wrong with committing to an intensive period of retraining, it is wise to think about why you feel you need (another?) degree.
It is common for us, as women over 50, to feel like we’re not good enough. They even have a term for it, ‘imposter syndrome’.
This video helps explain why you’re not alone in these thoughts. Even the best like Maya Angelou and Albert Einstein suffered from according to this video from TEDEd.
Lacking confidence is not enough of a reason to commit to full-time, expensive study. There are many other options that will get you into a new career sooner and without the heavy financial costs.
Other full-time study considerations
There are a lot of things to consider if you want to quit your current job, study full-time for your next career. If this is a viable option there are definitely benefits.
- Total immersion means you get to hang out with your ‘tribe’ of fellow students. The sense of comradery can be a big motivator, especially if you are an extrovert who needs to be surrounded by people.
- You will also be able to focus your creative energy on your field of study without distraction.
- You will get stuff done. When I was a full-time student for three years (while being a single parent), I approached my studies as my job. That meant I was at my desk at 8:30 every morning and either reading or doing assignments (while also juggling part-time work).
Learning on the job
When you making out a list of possible careers, consider those that allow you to learn on the job. Where can you earn and learn at the same time? With new technology becoming available every day there are increasing opportunities to learn new skills on the job.
I can recall one time when I needed to pick up a new skill quickly so I could take up a university summer job I really needed. I would be working with one of my lecturers who was about to publish a new book, so needed lots of charts and graphs created.
I went home and practiced for a day, then went back the next day to show her I could do what was required. The project took longer than it would have done if I was already trained, but I was successful. I was so pleased I’d made the effort to learn quickly and back myself.
Part-time study benefits
Part-time study might be an option is you’re able to transition from one career to another.
- You could fit study around your family and work obligations.
- Your employer might give you time off for study, especially if it relates to your current job.
- Your employer may also be willing to pay for your study. It’s worth asking.
- You may be able to take as long as you need to complete the course program.
Online and distance learning
Studying online doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t get to engage with other students and with your teachers. Modern online learning environments cater to all types of learners.
Again, you get to study at your own pace. This could even mean that you attend classes in the middle of the night if that’s your thing.
You can also choose whether to attend formal online programs or construct your own curriculum.
Online Learning Platforms
These platforms provide an online channel for experts of any kind to create courses that are offered to the public, either at no charge or for a tuition fee.
Both are owned by TED, a media organization that posts talks online for free distribution, with the slogan “ideas worth spreading”.
This is a non-profit online platform providing a completely free library of educational “micro-lectures.” Focusing on more traditional academic subjects, Khan Academy is targeted at children and provides a mix of video and text-based materials in math, science, economics, humanities, and computer programming.
Coursera has partnered with 200+ universities and companies in the U.S. and around the world to provide online courses covering dozens of different subjects. There are both free and paid options available.
Online Gurus and mentors
There are thousands of experts who are highly skilled in their fields who provide online learning via their websites and books. As specialists in their field of knowledge, they run online webinars, and provide email and video courses as well as membership programs. You will find many of these are promoted on websites and through social media. They’re everywhere!
Starting a new career over 50 is totally doable. You could be doing a job you love for a decade or more.
Do your research, start making plans, get the right support, take action. You won’t regret it.