Ca­reer changes can hap­pen at any age

Central Leader - - NEWS - By KELLY DEN­NETT

It was the noise that broke the prover­bial camel’s back.

Liz Con­sta­ble was 31 and had been work­ing in early child­hood cen­tres since she was 14.

She never heard the row­di­ness of tod­dlers tear­ing around that oth­ers of­ten asked her about.

‘‘Then one day I thought ‘I can’t do this any more’. But it was a dilemma be­cause I didn’t know what else I could do.’’

Ac­cord­ing to Ca­reers New Zealand this is rel­a­tively nor­mal.

They say ca­reer changes hap­pen at any age and of­ten midlif­ers seek out some­thing new and dif­fer­ent.

Ms Con­sta­ble didn’t have much of a clue of what she wanted to do next, she just knew she had to get out of the en­vi­ron­ment she was in.

Al­though that de­ci­sion was met with tem­po­rary re­lief the ques­tion of what she should do next be­gan to plague her.

She de­scribes it as like jump­ing off a cliff.

With her un­em­ploy­ment came a loss of iden­tity and a va­cant di­ary that threw her into a panic.

A few months down the track she’d be­come a ca­reers ad­viser her­self, some­thing she’d al­ways been in­ter­ested in.

Look­ing back her path was ob­vi­ous, she just didn’t know it at the time.

‘‘Now I re­alise I took a lot of as­pects of that busi­ness with me.

‘‘It sounds re­ally sim­ple now but when I was in the midst of it, it was like I was in a for­est. I knew there were trees around but I couldn’t see them.’’

Ca­reers New Zealand team leader Pat Cody says rather than mak­ing a ‘cliff jump’ like Ms Con­sta­ble, most peo­ple’s work­ing life has be­come about de­vel­op­ment.

While some peo­ple do make a rad­i­cal switch of­ten they’re sub­con­sciously cherry pick­ing the parts they en­joy or their best skills and trans­fer­ring them, he says.

‘‘It also de­pends on where they live, the qual­i­fi­ca­tions they may have or the in­dus­try they’re in­volved in,’’ he says.

‘‘For ex­am­ple in the print in­dus­try there’s a lot of changes and it forces that change on peo­ple.

‘‘But if you’re an eye spe­cial­ist chances are your go­ing to be an eye spe­cial­ist for a long time.’’

When con­sid­er­ing a ca­reer change he says it’s im­por­tant peo­ple find out if what they are miss­ing can be found out­side work hours in the form of a hobby.

Phil Jamieson turned his pas­sion for mo­tor ve­hi­cles into a full­time job.

The 48-year-old is a tow truck driver based in Manukau. He used to be an accountant.

‘‘I was sit­ting in an of­fice 14 hours a day, work­ing most week­ends and de­cided there had to be more to life,’’ he says.

A good salary, over­seas trips and a com­pany car weren’t enough to en­tice him to stay.

He found him­self a job as a trainee man­ager of a nearby Pit­stop where his new col­leagues were im­pressed an accountant knew so much about cars.

Even­tu­ally he joined a tow­ing firm which now sees his day vary from pick­ing cars up from crime scenes to ac­ci­dents and break­downs.

Some­times he has to re­pos­sess ve­hi­cles on be­half of oth­ers. For this there is abuse and threats on his life but he’s never looked back.

‘‘Do­ing what I do I get to meet new peo­ple. I’m not stuck in an of­fice,’’ he says.

‘‘My of­fice win­dow is my truck win­dow and the view changes ev­ery 30 sec­onds.’’

Six­teen years later and you could say the switch worked out well for Mr Jamieson but it wasn’t without its risks.

‘‘You’re think­ing, is this go­ing to im­pact on my fam­ily at all? Luck­ily my wife was work­ing so she could still sup­port our fam­ily.’’

Part of what com­pli­cates our de­sire to change our our job is how long we can still sup­port our­selves af­ter we quit, if we’ll make enough money and how it will dis­rupt fam­ily life, Mr Cody says.

It can be murky ter­ri­tory but he says our val­ues will crys­talise and pro­pel us for­ward.

‘‘Of­ten you’re look­ing for cer­tain things in life and what you want out of your ca­reer. If your driv­ing value is to make a dif­fer­ence in peo­ple’s lives then you might move away from an or­gan­i­sa­tion if they’re not fulfilling that need.’’

On the other hand we might de­cide our job is bring­ing us the fi­nance to ob­tain other things we value like travel or a nice house.

Hav­ing one change un­der her belt made it eas­ier the next time Ms Con­sta­ble de­cided to do some­thing dif­fer­ent and be­come a book­maker.

She clearly re­mem­bers the day she asked a client po­litely if she could turn her blouse into a book when she was fin­ished with it. Mak­ing the se­cond tran­si­tion was eas­ier with the knowl­edge that work can com­ple­ment your life and in­ter­ests, she says.

Cre­ative change: Liz Con­sta­ble is an early child­hood prac­ti­tioner who be­came a ca­reer ad­viser and then a book­maker.

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