Help! I have a great job but I’m having a mid-life career crisis! Sound like you?
You’ve worked for 20 years slaving away at your dream career only to find that the pinnacle isn’t exactly what you thought it would be. The notion of spending at least another 20 years doing what you do isn’t exciting you and instead you feel dread. Do you find another industry and do the same thing? Or, do you just scrap it all and start over in something completely new? How do you do this when doing so means sacrifice you aren’t prepared to make? You have kids in school or about to enter college, you have a big mortgage, a newish car, a lifestyle you worked hard to create. What would people think? What would your FAMILY think? Do these sound familiar? I get it. I really do. I’ve been there. I’m betting most people, at some point, think the same. The fact that you are reading this means you are SERIOUS and really, really do need some inspiration or perhaps just reassurance.
Well, you CAN do it but you need to be realistic about what you are doing. Are you interested in pursuing a passion or is this just a matter of not doing the same old thing day after tedious day?
The answer to these questions will impact how you rebrand your personal brand. The most advantageous and successful ways to do this are to change your job but not your industry or conversely change your industry but not your job.
If you’re bored and just want to change things up, changing the industry you are in and not the function may rev up your creative and industrious juices. Getting stuck in a rut may just be that you are so familiar with what you do, in the company you work for, that the challenge is no longer there for you. The fact that you have been doing the same or similar function in one industry will still resonate with another in the identifiable transferable skills you can bring with you. You will be able to showcase what you did for your current employer and show you have the skills to do so with another. But, the new company culture, atmosphere, colleagues and policies will create a little challenge and pepper your work with a newness lacking in your old job.
Perhaps, it isn’t the industry but the function you dislike and have so for some time. Be clear that this isn’t a spur of the moment decision. Changing what you do because you haven’t been given a challenging or interesting assignment for a while doesn’t necessarily equate to a firm desire to change functional work. If you are certain, the easiest way to do so is with a move within a company or industry into something more related to what you ultimately want to do. Your reputation within your industry or company will give you an edge over other candidates but you may be taking a slightly lower job than you hold in your current position. Take heart, this is your starting point and it doesn’t mean you will stay in that position long term. Hopefully, you will be working toward learning as much as you can and showing initiative and strong work ethic so that when a better position opens you will have some recommendations and experience under your belt.
Let’s face it, if you are a Gen Xer, today’s employment landscape is very different from the horizon you first envisioned. For most of us, our parents enjoyed long careers with one or two companies or industries but never really strayed. Their pensions, dreams, future, and ladder up were all aligned with one, possibly two loyalties. When we entered the workplace, we took our steps with seriousness and embraced an entry level position as the stepping stone up in THAT company. We considered the fact that we may move on to something else but not as a systematic formula for advancement. The millennials so many people like to complain about are embracing that form of thinking and what we dislike is exactly what they are so good at…adapting. You need to learn to embrace your true self and follow a path to living the life you were meant to live. The fact that we agonize over this type of decision is something that would not occur to the younger generations who think nothing about moving on and pursuing something different. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You may need to plan more but you already have the experience and the skills that take time to hone. Changing an industry or a function won’t change you or your experience. Bring it to the table. Make your move. You can change and EMBRACE it too. You just have to decide to do it.
Kristine Pierce is an experienced attorney turned certified personal branding strategist and certified social branding analyst. With a decade in government regulatory law, including as the Governor’s appointed State Extradition Coordinator and the Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety’s Chief Legal Counsel, she has also been a speaker, author and instructor. She’s passionate about sharing her vision that people should do what they love, never give up on their big dreams and never fear change. Rebranding is possible if it’s done well. As Founder of KHPierce Consulting, she focuses her expertise on helping professionals, solo business owners, and people in transition achieve their goals by finding methods and strategies to showcase their uniqueness. You can find her on Twitter @kristine_pierce; Instagram @kristine.pierce; LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/kristinepierce and at http://www.khpierce.com