Doing a Career About-Face: How to Completely Change Track Without a Mid-life Crisis

Three years ago, the Deloitte Shift Index reported that 80% of workers they surveyed were dissatisfied with their jobs. In the same year, the New York Times published an article commenting on the large numbers of adults choosing to go back to school, observing that, “with the world growing ever more complex and new technologies being developed every day, it’s hardly surprising that millions of Americans have returned to campus.” These words ring just as true in 2013, with the numbers of adult students continuing to rise each year.

If you’re dissatisfied with your career, it’s never too late to make a change. The hardest part is knowing where to begin, and what you can do to be sure that you make the right choice the second time around. If you’re longing to break into something new, take a look at the following stories from those who’ve already successfully turned things around, and read career change advice from the experts.

Railway switches and sun spots, close-up

From physician to financial planner
One of the biggest challenges facing many people longing for a career move is a lack of experience doing anything else. This is particularly true for professions requiring lengthy training and specific qualifications, like medicine or law. As highlighted in a recent Forbes article, Joel Greenwald worked in internal medicine for ten years, but found his job less and less fulfilling as it prevented him from spending quality time with his children. While still working as a physician, he enrolled in remote financial planning courses and began working part-time, and later full-time, as a certified financial planner. He now advises doctors and dentists with their financial planning, saying “It’s my natural market…It’s who I know”.

Corporate marketing executive to career coach
Working as a marketing executive in a corporate company, Kathy Caprino felt increasingly frustrated, “like I was wasting my real talents, missing my children’s lives, and longing to do something of greater meaning.” After being laid off, she made the decision to drastically change track, earned a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, and trained as a career coach. She now helps professional women find careers that truly fulfill them.

Simple steps to get there
Some of the major pitfalls to avoid when changing careers, according to Caprino, include the temptation to jump ship from a job you hate into something else you haven’t really thought through. In her experience, Caprino emphasizes the importance of sound financial planning, extensive research into the day-to-day reality of your potential new career and, above all, patience.

Career development consultant, Korina Karampela, acknowledges similar common mistakes, and suggests a gradual transition program to help those unhappy in their jobs figure out what they’d rather be doing. Think long and hard about what it is that you really want, and read up on anything and everything that sounds appealing, researching others who do it and even trying it out if possible. Examine what it is about the role that specifically appeals to you and your personality. Planning your finances and experimenting with various options will all help you to feel certain when the time comes to make the change. You are capable of enjoying two or even more successful careers in your lifetime, so if you’re unhappy with your current situation, there’s no time like the present to do something about it.

Colorado State University Online offers flexible education options designed for working adults, to help you take that step toward a new career. If you think education is part of the career change transition for you like it was for Joel and Kathy, explore our degrees, certificates and professional development courses to learn more.

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