There is an enormous difference between a woman’s first and second act careers. There are so many factors that make the second act different, but really they boil down to you. Your second career should be about you. What you want, what drives you, what makes you wake up ready and eager to go. Let’s take a minute to break it down.
Women start their careers from many different paths. College graduates, trade schools, or joining the workforce straight out of high school, no path is the same. Regardless of how you start, almost all first-time job applicants have something in common – they are on the bottom of the food chain.
A lack of real life skills, lack of experience, or a crushing load of school debt all force young, first-time workers to choose the best of bad options. Some choose jobs they don’t enjoy for the enticement of the paycheck. Some are stuck with taking whatever job will hire them, regardless of interest. Others manage to land their dream job, but are forced to basically scavenge nuts and berries just to survive.
A very, very lucky few manage to find both financial success and fulfillment right out of the gate.
Everyone else spends the majority of their 20s pursuing the next job, pushing for the promotion, trying to pay off debt, while potentially managing mortgage payments, marriage, a growing family, child care, the list goes on. People in this stage tend to just knuckle down, get the work done and follow the stereotypical preordained career path.
But, then, something happens.
Children grow up and mothers are looking to return to work. A pandemic forces women to stay home and take over virtual school. Boredom or a growing dissatisfaction eventually boils over until something has to change.
No matter the impetus, women are looking for something new. They know themselves. They know their worth – what they are good at, what skills they offer, what they don’t enjoy doing. Women looking for their second act understand what they are willing to give up and what they aren’t. Second acts are about more than just a paycheck. Fulfillment. Passion. Flexibility. Second act careers are about finding the right job to fit you – not about you adapting to the job.
A second career is your time to shine.
As women make the transition towards their second act, they often have the ability to take time to decide what they really want, and not just take what they can get. Sometimes this requires moving slower and more intentionally. It may require going back to school, accepting a pay cut or taking some big risks.
Second acts often come with tradeoffs – trading job security for doing something with growth potential or swapping the comforts of benefits and a weekly salary for the independence of working for yourself. Weighing the pros and cons for a major career shift is a vital part of making your second act successful. Before making any substantial career changes, make sure to know what you are willing to give up and what you are not.
Once you know that, the possibilities are huge – and this is what makes the second act difference. You know yourself. You know what you want and what you don’t want. Your priorities have shifted and you have grown up.
Think about your 20-year old self. Do you really think they should be in charge of making a decision that directs the rest of your life? Most likely, “20-year old you” cared about much different things than “current you”. That’s why taking the time NOW to carefully weigh what you want and how you want to do it are so important.
Second acts are about repackaging your years of experience and skills into an opportunity that reinvigorates your excitement and satisfies your needs as a mature adult. Readjusting your career allows you to leverage a decade in corporate fashion into your own small kids clothing business. Or realize that while you may not like the public school education system, your love of teaching children makes opening your own after-school program a perfect fit.
Imagine waking up every day, eager to go to work and ready to make a difference. That’s what makes the second act so different. Your second act career prioritizes the same qualities in a job that you prioritize in your life.
Let’s talk about what your most important considerations are in a second career. What do you value the most? What factors do you want to keep and what do you want to avoid in your next career?