I have spent a lot of time over the last few years talking about and reading about women in midlife hitting a crossroad in their careers. Many of us invested 20, 25, 30 years building a reputation and respect. After many years of dedicating ourselves to the pursuit of success in our careers, we find ourselves questioning why.
The reasons can be many. For some, the rules of the game have changed. Technology, social media, and the changing economy have placed an artificial divide between baby boomers and millennials. There seems to be a perception that if you were not born with a smartphone in your hand, you can't possibly know how to navigate this new environment. Our younger colleagues--and often bosses--underestimate our ability to contribute and to adapt to this new dynamic workplace. They don't value the multitude of experience we bring and don't understand that we did not get here by being close-minded and inflexible.
For others the discontent comes with the realization that the dedication and long hours devoted to career come at a cost. The cost of personal pursuits. Where was the "me time" while putting in 50 to 60 hour weeks? Our children grew up in the blink of an eye. Should we have spent more time with them while they were growing up? What about all those places around the world we wanted to visit? Did we really do the best we could?
Their are those of us who were forced to re-evaluate due to cut-backs and lay-offs. This scenario often hits like a bolt of lightening, leaving one numb and confused. Why me? What could I have done differently? What now? It's natural to question your skills and abilities when this happens. Whatever the reason, finding ourselves in this position is very difficult. It's easy to panic and jump into the first offer to come along, even if we are over-qualified. This is a mistake.
The good news is that there are many options available to us. First and foremost, take stock. Make a list of all of your successes and accomplishments--both business and personal. Which of these brought you most joy? Think about life experiences. Maybe you threw the very best birthday parties for your kids. And maybe, just maybe, planning the parties were some of the best times of your life and the fondest memories that you have. What about a career in party planning? Taking the time to evaluate your skills and strengths is vital to deciding the next step. And so is understanding what brings you great joy.
Be clear and detailed but don't over-analyze. Quite often we get stuck in analysis paralysis which prevents us from taking tangible steps towards our goals and hindering our progress. Take steps towards your dream by volunteering. Taking temp positions or part-time positions allows you to get experience and really see what the job is all about. Are you missing certain skills? Take classes. Just be sure to take action.
Get support. Starting with google will help you search out sources to help with the transition. Websites such as betterafter50.com are full of valuable informationNetworking groups can help you make contacts. And yes, reach out to people with social media. You never know where the next opportunity will come from.
Be prepared and be aware. When you know what you want and you take steps to get there, doors open. Don't be afraid to walk through that door. You deserve it.