Career Advice

Navigating Career Change with Confidence

March 21, 2024

Navigating Career Change with Confidence I was so honored to be asked to write an article on career change for the Christy Maz Network, an online network empowering women in their 40s and 50s. They allowed me to share this here as well. I hope you enjoy this blog as much as I enjoyed writing […]

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The Second Act Success Career Blog features articles to help inspire you as you navigate your career journey. Plus, you'll find show notes from podcast guests who have shared second act success stories. My hope is that these quick reads will offer advice and comfort knowing you are not alone on your path towards second act success. xo - Shannon


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Navigating Career Change with Confidence

I was so honored to be asked to write an article on career change for the Christy Maz Network, an online network empowering women in their 40s and 50s. They allowed me to share this here as well. I hope you enjoy this blog as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Are you feeling the urge for a change in your career? Let’s face it, embarking on a career change at any age is intimidating, but why does it seem even more daunting for women in midlife? As a woman myself, I decided to leave my career as a Television Producer to embark on an entirely new career at the age of 38 when I launched my first business. Now I am Career Transition Coach and Host of the Second Act Success Career Podcast, and I support women as they produce their best life and pivot towards their true purpose.

I have worked with clients in their 20s through their 60s, and there is one common thread throughout…shiny object syndrome. Women often obey the rules, stay the course, and follow the path towards what they think success looks like right out of school, yet somehow life laughs and points that shiny arrow in all different directions along the way leaving us wondering, “How did I end up here?”

Navigating Career Change With Confidence

Navigating Career Change With Confidence

Today, it seems like a majority of women spend their 20s gaining traction in their career field of choice- graduating, interning, grabbing that entry level job, and climbing the ladder. Some of us then spend our 30s trying to reach that ultimate career level we’ve been working towards, while also trying to settle down and start a family. This is what we are supposed to do right?  

We are so busy during these two decades trying to do all the things society tells us we should be doing, that by the time 40 rolls around…we wake up. In my opinion, women in midlife tend to have a realization that everything they experienced in their 20s and 30s went so quickly that they never had a chance to ask themselves if they were happy. 

There is a plethora of responsibilities and societal expectations thrown at us, that when we finally take a breath we are dumbfounded.  It’s during this moment of reflection that we realize we are not the same person we were at the age of 22. Many of us launch into life as an adult having no clue what we really want because we are still trying to figure out who we are.

So after chasing the job, chasing the paycheck, chasing the partner, house, family, fill in the blank…we are wiped. Nothing fits the same as it did in our 20s. Think about it- we declare a major, take the classes, graduate with a degree, fill out the resume, and find that job. Do any of us really know where that path will lead when we take that first step? 

When The A-ha Moment Hits

I’ll use myself as an example. I knew I wanted to work in the entertainment industry since I was a little girl. I got the grades, went to college, took the internships, and landed my dream job right out of school at a Television Network. I was the “yes” girl working long hours, making the contacts, reaching the next level and then the next level. I was on the so-called “right” path and hustling so much that I didn’t know what I was actually working towards anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of my work in Television and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Yet something changed about 16 years into my career. I found myself running in high heels 8 months pregnant through the Times Square Subway Station. I had just skipped out on an interview with one of the biggest names in music, just so I could catch a subway to a bus during rush hour, so I could make it home in time to pick up my 3-year-old from daycare.

It was that ah-ha moment that made me realize there was nowhere else for me to climb on this ladder to the top. I didn’t want my boss’ job. I didn’t want to snag that new reality show gig everyone was vying for. I didn’t want to meet another celebrity or go to another television set. I wanted to be home with my family. 

Over the following months after giving birth and having time to reflect on what I wanted, I realized I accomplished what I set out to do when I was 22. Now that I was close to 40, I was ready for a change. I was ready to start my second act. After a great deal of soul-searching and a few missteps, I took my skills as a Producer and launched my first business. It was scary, exhausting, and overwhelming, but it was worth it. 

Your epiphany moment may not be as obvious as mine was in that New York City Subway Station. You may not get a wake up sign at all. However, if you are not happy where you are right now, you owe it to yourself to ask why. 

Why is it hard for women to admit they want a change?

It’s simple, we serve others. Women are rule followers by nature. Give us directions and we will follow them. A woman in her 30s, 40s, 50s, may be balancing work, family, friends, a household, and everything all at once. We never take time to pause and ask, “How am I doing?” 

Even if you do realize that you are less than thrilled about where you are in your career, it may seem easier to just maintain the status quo than to make a change, right? It’s not a comfortable feeling to wake up and realize the career you worked so hard to achieve, no longer works with your lifestyle. 

Whether you love what you do or not, what you do may not fit into your day to day. Maybe the commute is too long, the hours are too demanding, your values don’t align with your company, or maybe the compensation doesn’t match your effort? Whatever the reason is, if something feels off, you may want to revisit your role and how it fits into your life. 

Trust me, I know the prospect of switching careers can seem like an uphill battle. It seems even steeper when you have so much going on in all aspects of your life. I have clients tell me all the time that right when they get confident with the idea of change, that’s when those naysayer thoughts start creeping in. Have these ideas ever swirled around in your heads?…

-Who am I to think about changing careers?

-I don’t know how to do anything else?

-Making a career shift will affect my family, how can I be that selfish?

-I can’t afford to make a change, I need my paycheck.

-This job makes me miserable, but isn’t everyone unhappy at work?

So often it’s these questions, these voices in our head that taunt us, that really stop us in our tracks. We shut down this idea of making our work life better. Sometimes it’s just easier than putting the work in to figure out how to make a career change or start that business.

Strategies to Overcome These Obstacles

  1. Establish Expectations

By the time a woman reaches her 30s or 40s, she may already find herself established in a career.  If this is you, you may feel like you built your career and life alongside each other. You paid your dues and you may be in a space where you have the expertise, the network, and a professional identity. The idea of starting fresh in a new field might give you a case of the jitters. Who are you if you are not your job title?  However, it’s important to remember that changing careers does not mean starting from scratch. You are leveling up! You are going to take your skills, experience, and contacts, and utilize them in a new way, in a new field…one where you are entering that playing field on a whole new level. Guess what? Times are changing, and it’s more socially acceptable to make a change and better yourself. Remember, you are NOT losing your identity, you are adding on to your life-long resume. You are checking the box on your life’s to-do list and venturing into a new opportunity to grow, learn, and explore, all while bringing your knowledge with you. How cool is that?!

  1. Money Matters

Financial obligations often play a significant role in career decisions. You may have family depending on you and other financial concerns to think about. The prospect of taking a pay cut or starting at a lower level in a new career may seem risky and can often deter women from pursuing their passion. Responsibilities pile up as we journey through life, but switching careers doesn’t have to disrupt everything if you plan properly. It may mean tightening the purse strings for a bit, reworking your budget, or simply saving to make this pivot while you are working at your current job. With careful consideration, it is possible to invest in yourself and your happiness. The fulfillment you’ll gain is worth its weight in gold. It’s not just about the paycheck; it’s about finding your groove and living this one life to the fullest.

  1. Work-Life Harmony

Let’s get real for a minute… life can be exhilarating yet exhausting!  Balancing career aspirations with personal commitments only becomes that much more complex as we get older. Many women may be juggling caregiving responsibilities for children, aging parents, or both, while also managing the household, working a day job, and trying to maintain healthy relationships at the same time. The responsibilities you hold take up time, right?  Now toss in a career change, and it’s like adding a flaming torch to the mix. Yet, if you’re anything like me, you love a challenge! It always amazes me that when we put our minds toward something, we can find that sweet spot where work, life, and everything in between harmonize. It’s about making a plan and scheduling your days, yet still allowing for flexibility to flow in when necessary. Oh and hear this loud and clear…it may mean leaning on others to help!  When you need 30 minutes to research that company or 15 minutes to send out resumes or an hour to connect with a former coworker over coffee to learn about a new opportunity…call in the reserves to help. Family and friends want you to be happy and they will support you in these small ways that mean so much. You may be a super woman who can do all the things, but sometimes you just don’t have to. 

  1. Confidence Boost

Face it, self-confidence and self-esteem can both take a hit when contemplating a career change later in life. I have found that some women I work with tend to question their abilities and qualifications when they think about entering a new industry or launching a business.

Listen up…confidence IS inside of you! It’s that secret sauce that makes everything about you shine a bit brighter. So when the idea of changing careers has you second-guessing yourself, remember that you have what it takes. The mere fact that you are contemplating this change is evidence that you have something the world needs to see. Embrace your journey, celebrate your wins (big or small), and trust in your ability to slay any challenge that comes your way. Every time that imposter syndrome or fear creeps in, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are in charge of your life’s journey. It’s up to you to keep moving along your path until you get where you want to be.

Embracing Change and Seek New Opportunities

If you are considering a second act career move – you’re not alone, and it’s never too late to chase your dreams. It’s okay to feel scared, uncertain, or downright terrified. But beneath those feelings lies a reservoir of strength, resilience, and untapped potential waiting to be unleashed. Here are some simple strategies to consider as you embark on your career transition:

  • Know Yourself: Reflect on your skills, strengths, and passions. Take an assessment to help steer you towards what you’ll be amazing at. What makes your heart sing? If you are going to make a career change, then be clear that it’s towards a path that truly reflects you and what you want out of your work and your life.
  • Learn, Grow, Thrive: Invest in yourself through courses, training programs, or coaching/mentorship programs. Lifelong learning keeps the sparkle in your eyes, and it will give you the confidence you need to make your move with certainty.
  • Network, Network, Network: Connect with like-minded individuals, industry experts, and mentors who steer you in the right direction. You have a career, you know people. This is about trusting in the relationships you have formed over the years and re-connecting with colleagues. You never know who can help you get where you’re going faster. 
  • Get Financially Fit: Develop a financial plan before you pivot. Maybe you save money ahead of time, so you have a financial buffer. Maybe you explore freelance or part-time work to help you get over the hurdle of this transition period. Be honest with yourself and your bank account, and put a plan in place that puts you in control. 
  • Embrace the Adventure: Life’s too short for regrets and what-ifs. Embrace the journey, embrace the change, and trust in yourself.

This is your time to take the reins and make your move towards a career that will fill you up and bring you joy. Changing careers offers you an opportunity to take your past and plan out your future. Embrace the obstacles, and navigate this road towards personal growth and a renewed sense of purpose. Soar into your next chapter with your experience in tow and the confidence to know that you can make anything happen. 

Remember, it’s never too late to pursue your dreams and chart a new course for your professional journey.

Learn more about what the Christy Maz Network has to offer HERE and you can view my full article on their website HERE.

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