Wanting career change is much like wanting to lose weight. Just having a desire to weigh less rarely motivates anyone into a radical transformation. Whereas being very clear about the very specific elements of body shape or areas of fitness that you are unhappy with focuses the mind on change.
Many people consider career change (and weight loss!) for a very long time without much change occurring. Being crystal clear on the specifics that you don’t want in your future career clears the mind to focus on the next step in any career change.
In my ongoing change interviews with professionals in their 40s, 50s and 60s, I’ve noticed two broad triggers for career change.
In this article, I will focus on the second most common trigger for career change in your 40s, 50s or 60s…
…A DESIRE FOR LESS of the nonsense that makes their work less fulfilling, less satisfying and definitely less fun than it could be.
Acknowledging what you don’t want in your future work appears to be a crucial starting point for change. Equivalent to clearing the fridge and pantry of the sugary treats that could rail road a future weight loss programme.
From my successful career change interview series, I’ve discovered that there are 3 broad categories of LESS that form trigger for change.
Here are some quotes from professionals in their 40s or 50s who decided what it was that they had had enough of before then moving onto the next stages in designing their new work.
Do any resonate with you?
“I realised I’d been spending two hours each day commuting, the equivalent of 2 full working days, to do a five-day week, working 40-50 hours a week.” (Client, Media, 40s.)
“I’m physically and mentally burned out. I’m worried that I’m not performing at my best and that it might start to show.” (Client, Law, 50s)
“I had had enough of the dread, of having to look forward every year to the business struggle, the redundancies and the disruption. Enough of 10-12-hour days travelling across London. Being exhausted at the weekends. I thought there’s got to be more to life than this.” (Denyse Whillier - Chief Executive - to Executive Coach and Business Scale expert)
“I hit my mid-40s and began to wonder how I wanted to spend my remaining working career. I was fed up working 60-hour weeks for someone else, always being on call. I felt like a commodity in the end. (Kelly-Ann Grimes – Hospitality IT C00 to PA Franchise owner)
“I’d burned out doing work that didn’t suit me but my drive and hard-working personality had kept me going. I’d never considered any other career other than this, ever. But I made the decision that when I would go back to work, if I could go back to work, I would definitely not be a solicitor.” (Client, Legal. 40s)
“I was on blood pressure tablets and heart strengthening drugs and was still dealing with the death of my father the previous year. Work stress was the least of my worries but there came a point when I recognised that it was at the core of my worries.” (Client, Retail, 40s)
“My Sunday night blues started at 6am on Sunday morning. I hated going on relaxing holidays because I couldn’t relax and my work stress was putting a strain on my lovely relationship.” (Client, FMCG, 40s)
“A whole swathe of managers was offered the opportunity to stick around for heart attacks and early deaths. Most of us had signed the papers before they hit the desks!” (Ges Ray, former banker now Public Speaking entrepreneur)
“I’d been carrying around my resignation letter for months but couldn’t make myself hand it in. I couldn’t figure out why not. (Client, Technology, 40s)
3. Work that doesn’t fit anymore
“As a senior female, I felt shrunk to fit, forced to specialise in something that I didn’t love and being edged out of a successful, cut-throat world of advertising. (Client, Media, 50s)
“I’d grown tired of trying to motivate people to change when they didn’t want to.” (Client, Financial Services, 50s)
“For so many years I left before the kids went to school and I’d return when they were in bed. Or I would travel the world for 2 weeks at a time.” (Andy Eaton, International Finance Director to owner of accounting firm)
One new leader proved to have a cataclysmic effect on my enjoyment of work.” (Ben Fielding - Technology career to joint-owner in a technology firm)
“I’d been carrying around my resignation letter for months but couldn’t make myself hand it in. I can’t figure out why not. (Client, Technology, 40s)
I felt like I was moving further and further away from work that I really enjoyed. (Lindsay Cornelissen – Banking industry leader to wine entrepreneur)
“Even though I had a great career and a six-figure salary, I was expected to keep moving up in a career I had fallen into. I just didn’t want to go any higher. The roles weren’t attractive to me. (Julia Duncan, Technology career to Photographer)
Then I started to realise that the day job was just not me anymore. I’d always been fairly good at getting job offers but I had just stopped connecting with MDs in my late 40s. I was maybe too expensive, too grumpy, too old or simply too opinionated. They just wanted me to do the job the way that they wanted it done.” (Andy Eaton - International Finance Director to own accounting firm)
“I’d fallen out of love with sales a few years ago around the time when I filed for divorce.” (Client, Recruitment, 40s)
“I realised then that I had had enough of this culture of profit over people.” (Jennifer Corcoran - Executive Assistant to Social Media Trainer for Entrepreneurs)
Clarifying what you will not accept in your future work is a very good place to begin a career overhaul.
ACTION: Grab a pen and a post-it note. Write down the top three things that you want less of in your future work. It should feel cathartic and you may even feel lighter having written it down.
Pop it in your bag and chat through it when you get home tonight. Then watch out for the next article on the Number 1 trigger for career change at our age.
In the meantime, if you’d like to hear more about my own personal triggers for change, have a look at this video. You’ll get access to my free downloadable “Where to Start” guide to career change at the end.