Wednesday, June 12, 2019

New Careers in Middle Age

New Careers
I've noticed a trend of presidential candidates discussing the impact of widespread career change on our economy and communities.  In my own experience, I've seen numerous incidents of career change. 
Career change is near and dear to me as I'm going through one.  Really it's more of a career progression.  Perhaps this is why I've noticed discussion of career change popping up, particularly amongst Democratic Presidential candidates. 

In his interview with Dan Primack on the Axios Pro Rata Podcast, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg makes this insight about career and identity: 
Even when you find a way to get somebody...a new source of income, we're not speaking to...the deeper issue...if we want to prepare for a world where people will be changing jobs or even changing careers...more frequently than people in my parent's generation changed job titles, then we need to recognize the shocks that are going to come to people's self-understanding and sense of identity...It used to be that you could get your sense of identity partly from a career-long relationship with a single employer...If we don't find ways to help people establish roles in their communities...that provide a bridge to understanding how you fit in...then there will be ugly sources of filling that void. 
And in his interview with Joe Rogan, presidential candidate Andrew Yang discusses at length how a swath of jobs will be replaced by AI over the next decade, including trucker and food service jobs.  Everyone employed in these industries will need to find entirely new lines of work. 

A Career Provides (or Doesn't Provide) a Place

While working as a visual artist for over decade, I struggled to find support and a sense of place in my community.  I desired a more 'normal' career simply so I could explain to people what it was that I 'did' and have them 'get it'. 

I love how Buttigieg talked about careers as more than simply making a living, but an integral part of who you are and how you fit into a community. 

And we've all met people who've changed careers--or perhaps have done so ourselves. I've know people who've made dramatic shifts: from restaurant owner to bus driver, nurse to lawyer, filmmaker to life coach.  Sometimes these changes are born out of practical necessity (people are laid off, a business fails) and sometimes the motivation is more personal. 

I've recently been taken with Lisa Congdon, a successful artist and writer.  Lisa started creating art at 30, and her professional career at 40. 

Rather than a "career change" exactly, it seems that some people mature or come into their own in their 30s and 40s, and not directly out of college as traditionally expected. 

What About You? 

Has your career changed dramatically as you've matured? 

And to what extent do you identify with your career; is it integral to who you are, or something that you do for several hours every day before you can get back to your "real life” away from work? 


  1. Career changes can be hard but it is never impossible. I love hearing stories of people making that jump to something completely new to align with the market. I've seen nurses who went into auditing. I haven't experienced career change before but I know it'll be a huge learning curve for me. Sending you lots of love!

    Nancy ♥


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