There was a time in life when being a teacher, postal worker, secretary, or any other occupation or job was enough. People put their time into a company, school, state or federal government agencies with the view towards retiring with a pension and in some cases, a gold watch.
This was the generational ideal for many years. It only began to crack when the Silent Generation gave way to Baby Boomers and post-war America. The fifties are seen as an idealized time portraying life with a mother, father, and children. Dad works and mom stays home to take care of the children and the house. People liked Ike and Pat Boone was an acceptable rock star. This staid atmosphere led to changing ideas of gender, family, and sexuality underwent. The idea of women being more than just a wife, mother, to complement a man took hold. Boomers ushered in a sense of freedom young women responded to. It opened the doors to male dominated careers.
Even though boomers are now in their sixties and seventies, the legacy of pushing the envelope and challenging the status quo is a part of Gen-X and still very much alive. Women over forty and fifty are changing careers or turning hobbies or side hustles into a full-blown business.
Changing lanes career-wise
Whether they’ve enjoyed a long career as a teacher, professor, engineer, architect, or lawyer, more women are changing careers to pursue long-held passions. You’ll find former lawyers and paralegals becoming writers or chefs. There are engineers and architects who decide to use their attention to detail to become pastry chefs, painters, or fashion designers. Some go back to school or intern to get educated for their career change. It may take time, but the bottom line is pursuing a passion is fulfilling and satisfying.
Feeding the Fires of the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Starting a business to do something you love ensures that you will never work a day in your life thereafter. It sounds corny but it’s true. Many women are using the skills someone else paid them for and are using them as the foundation to build an empire. Women over 50 are the top demographic worldwide who are starting businesses. So, you’re in good company.
Thinking about a career change? Here are some things you need to consider
- If you know that you want to make a change, but aren’t sure what you want to do, look into taking a self-assessment to help crystallize your interests and what careers are best suited for your personality
- Think about your skillset in terms of transferrable skills. These are the talents and abilities you have acquired from doing one type of work that you can use in another. For some careers, you may even be able to substitute your transferable skills for formal training.
- When deciding between a career that requires additional schooling and one for which you can use your transferable skills, you may decide to choose the latter. It will allow you to transition more quickly and with less effort, at an age when you may want to limit your expenditure of time, energy, or money.
- In addition to learning what the educational qualifications are for a new career, look into the job or industry forecast in terms of economics. What’s the median salary? What’s the expectation for growth in the field or industry?
- Beyond the salary, what type of benefits are offered? Is there a 401K? If you’re in your early forties, is there a possibility of becoming vested within ten years? Health benefit dollars are important, how much does your employer cover, and how much are you responsible for?
- Even though this is a second-act career, how much paid vacation time is offered. If you still have school-age children or senior parents, how much personal and sick time will you receive if they get sick?
Things to consider before diving into entrepreneurship
- Just as with a career change, one of the most important things you can bring to a new business venture is experience. Do you have the experience that relates to your business?
- Where will the money come from? You must have a cushion. Tapping into your IRA isn’t what you should do. You’ll need it down the road.
- Get educated for free. Take advantage of SCORE, a partner of the Small Business Administration. They provide free business mentoring and education for those looking for experienced help from experienced entrepreneurs.
- Look at the market and see what you have to contribute that no one else is doing. Then, do the job first. It’s one thing to cook or bake for the holidays or parties, it’s another to do it every day. Working with a caterer or at a bakery will give you an idea of what you can expect a workday to look and feel like.
In the end, follow your heart
The one thing age teaches us is that time is fleeting. It seems like one minute you’re bringing your new baby home from the hospital, then you’re dropping them off at college. It all goes by too fast. We seem to go from twenty to forty in a heartbeat. Therefore making the most of our time is important. Whatever you do, follow your heart and make it happen. The only thing better than doing something you love is knowing that tomorrow, you get to do it again.
For more resources: