Career change at 50

Responsibilities at 50

Although you likely still have 20 to 25 years of work ahead of you at 50, it’s only natural to start thinking about slowing down a bit, and sometimes people feel that it’s time to get off the treadmill and do something that allows for more freedom.

Many people assume they’ll have fewer responsibilities at 50, and it will finally be the time to relax a bit, but Peterson points out that this isn’t always the case.

“We think our children are growing up and they’re going away and we’re going to have party time and relax, but – oops! We now have our parents to look after,” she says.

“They go into their later years, and are dealing with things like dementia and old aged care. They become completely dependent on us and we become the parent to them, and that can be a bit of a bummer, because there we were thinking, this was our time to relax.”

  • Thinking about slowing down a bit to relax
  • Taking care of other people

She adds that at the same time, there may also be children in early university and added responsibilities at work, so there’s a lot to deal with and it’s often not the ‘downtime’ that people expected it to be. So these are things to be aware of, but of course there are positives too.

“In your 50s, there’s the responsibility for you to be a leader and a mentor to younger people,” says Peterson. “And you can slip into that role quite easily because you have a lot of runs on the board at this point, and particularly for women, when they get through the menopause years, it’s a totally delightful time. Your creativity comes to the fore. It’s your wisdom years.”

Career needs and confidence at 50

Despite the government’s plans to raise the retirement age to 70, 50 is inevitably still going to be the age when many people begin to think about what they’ve accomplished as well as what they still want to accomplish, both personally and professionally.

“At this point, you really should have your masters or be looking at what else you can add to your professional qualifications. When was the last time you did some professional or personal development work?”

The USA Today survey shows that of the midlife adults who planned to make a career change, 82% wanted to give back more, 80% wanted to pursue personal passions, and 75% wanted to make their life more meaningful. Other motivations included wanting to travel more and pursue new hobbies.

Peterson notes that at this stage, your career needs will be different than they were at 30 or 40, because not only do you realise that you don’t have that much time left to do everything you want, your pace of working also changes.

  • Thinking about slowing down a bit to relax
  • Pace of work changes, need to work smarter
  • Possible career or personal issues to deal with

“At this point, if you’re not on purpose with your life, you’re going to have a major personal or work crisis,” she says. “You have to be on purpose by now, because it suddenly becomes crystal clear that there’s not much time left in your working life.”

“I can’t work at the same pace that I could when I was in my 30s or 40s, so my work needs are different because I have to work smarter. In a way, my thinking has changed; I’ve become more strategic and more creative. I haven’t got time to muck about, so I can tend to be quite blunt and straightforward in my requirements and the support that I’m asking for from the world. So this is a good and a bad thing,” she explains.