4 Steps to Preparing for a Stress-Free Midlife Career Change
Let’s be honest, there is no such thing as a stress-free career change. But we can minimize what stress there is. Making a midlife career change means stepping out of your comfort zone and charting a new path. Excitement may be the emotion you experienced most when planning the change, but this is quickly replaced by anxiety, or even fear, as you let go of the handrail and reach for opportunity. So what practical steps can you take to prepare for the change, minimize your risks and reduce your stress?
Eliminate Your Personal Debt
Probably the biggest fear when making a career change is the threat to your financial stability. Leaving a steady job, often one that pays well, to start a new career can put real stress on your finances. Paying off your debt will put you in a much stronger financial position for making a job change. It may mean postponing your move for a year or two, but it greatly improve your success by eliminating the pressure of credit payments while starting a new career.
Build Up Your Saving Account
Another important step to being financially secure during the change is to have a reliable savings to carry you, if necessary. Most career changes will involve a period of transition, possibly leaving you without a source of income. If this is the case, you want to have money set aside to pay bills and expenses. How much should you have? It really depends on how long you expect to be without or at a reduced income.
Here’s my formula for establishing your saving account. First, calculate your monthly living expenses. Now estimate how long you may be without a job or working for less than what you need to cover your expenses. Now multiply the your monthly living expenses by the number of months you expect to need and add two months (for emergencies and a safety cushion). Finally, add any career change expenses you will need to pay, such as training or travel.
Gain the Support of Your Spouse
Unless you are single, you have to remember that this is a partnership and you need your partners support. Any career change will be easier and more successful when your spouse is with you all the way. Start talking early, when you first feel the need to make the change. Explain how you feel and why you are considering a change. Ask how they feel about what you have shared.
Talking about your desire for a career change may create stress for your partner. Assure your husband or wife that you are not going to quit today and leave the family in financial ruin. Of course, if you are paying off the debt and adding to your savings, it will make all of this much easier.
Do Thorough Research on Your Career Options
You greatly improve the odds for success by making an educated, thoughtful career choice. This means you’ve considered careers that make the most of your current skills and interests. You’ve identified what makes you passionate, what careers excite you. And, of course, you’ve examined the challenges and pitfalls of each career choice.
Is All This Necessary?
Well, no. I know or have read about individuals that have found new careers in midlife without any of these preparations. But the fact is that while many, if not most, of us will consider making a midlife career change, only a few will ever take that step. If something is holding you back from making the change, maybe one of these steps will put your mind at ease. You don’t have to dive into the deep end of the pool to get to the bottom. Some of us need to take it a bit slower.
What are your suggestions for getting ready for a midlife career change?
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