Career changes can happen at any age
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.