These Tips Can Help You Adjust to the After-50 Career Change

John Sayles, a planner at Stanley Consultants, gestures at a display of the company’s history at its headquarters in Muscatine, Iowa.
In this May 3, 2013, photo, John Sayles, a planner at Stanley Consultants, gestures at a display of the company’s history at its headquarters in Muscatine, Iowa. (Matt Sedensky/AP Photo)

Before turning 50, I couldn't figure out why so many people who reached that milestone made such a big deal of the event. Now that I'm safely past 50, I understand.

If there's a single word that describes the difference in my life since I turned 50, it's "adjustment." It seems I'm constantly making adjustments of one sort or another and faster than I ever did when I was younger. It takes me more time to do certain tasks, and I'm not as fast at recalling important names or events. So to continue enjoying a rewarding life, I've had to learn how to adapt to my advancing age.

As a career counselor, I've noticed that successful career changing for the over-50 group requires a variety of adjustments. The following thoughts have proved helpful to my older clients:

Know Yourself

Explore your personality and what you need to be happy. This information is key to making good career decisions.

Take Time to Think

Chances are that you've had little free time or the inclination over the last 20-30 years to take stock of your life. To avoid the "I wish I had or had not ..." syndrome that happens to so many older people, take time now to determine what you want to do with your years ahead.

Seek Professional Help

Note how good you are at your career. No doubt you'll agree that your experience can be a great asset to less-experienced colleagues. Now try to understand how much you might gain from seeking help from others, such as career counselors who are experienced in helping people find the right career.

It's Not About the Money

Yes, you still need a decent income to afford life's necessities and luxuries. But you should also focus on personal satisfaction, developing your talents and contributing to society.


It's common to hear people in the 50-plus group talk about how important it is to maximize the development of their knowledge and skills. Mastering one's own craft is the normal goal for most workers, either for its own sake or spiritual reasons.

Deal with the Fear

Change is never without stress and anxiety. Talk to your spouse, children, friends, relatives and colleagues about the changes you're going through and seek their assistance and support.

Be Realistic About What You Can Do

Put away your dreams about becoming the oldest president of the United States. Set realistic goals and enjoy the success and rewards that can come from achieving them.

Don't Hate Them Because They're Younger

Remember when you were young, how excited you were to be part of the action and how great it was when someone older helped you along? Now it's your turn to team up with younger people. They need your help, and you need them, too.

Use Your Network

Refer to the friends, colleagues, relatives and acquaintances you've acquired over your lifetime for information and assistance when planning your after-50 career.

Consider All Options

Don't limit your thinking to only full-time employment. Consider consulting, volunteering, part-time work, temp work and self-employment as viable career options. A combination of several of the above may be the best option for realizing your financial goals.

Stay Strong

The best defense against the obstacles that inhibit older workers is to stay in great shape, both mentally and physically. Get in the habit of reading books on positive thinking and exercising regularly.

Be Flexible

Learn to adjust and change. Understand that you've become set in your ways and how this type of behavior often conflicts with the times.

Your post-50 years can be your most enjoyable and rewarding if you have the right attitude. Fight the battles you can win, forget the rest and use your time where it counts most: Enjoy your family, help others through your work and become the best person you can be.

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