At a time when all the certainties of our lives have been put into question, the idea of career reinvention might seem like wild fantasy – especially if you are over forty and have been in that career for a long time. Yet now is a better time than ever to make the shift. And shift you can! I know this, because I am successfully doing it.

Three years ago, I began to move away from my career as part of the senior management team in an award-winning global design agency to become the coach and creative consultant that I am now. It has been a journey that has involved re-education and exploration. It also meant getting back onto the design shop floor as a freelance designer to keep the finances afloat as I navigated my new path.

Part of the journey was uncomfortable, but most of it has been revelatory. I am now doing something purposeful that sparks joy in my life – just as my previous career had done up until a few years ago.

Here are the five steps I took to reinvent my career. They can work for you too:

Lose the Fear

Easier said than done when you are in your forties or fifties, probably experiencing higher outgoings than at any other time in your life. However, lose the fear you must and, if that means faking it until you make it, that is fine. There are lots of ways to work with fear – spend time researching and trying things out if need be. The key thing to know is that fear blocks creativity. To successfully reinvent your working life, you need to activate your powers of invention.

Look Within

Take time to get really clear on the direction you want to take. Chances are this may not be immediately obvious. Questions to ask yourself include:

  • What are you holding on to?
  • What have you learned so far?
  • What gives you energy and motivates you?
  • What do you truly value and care about?
  • Where would you like to see yourself in the future?
  • What are you willing to let go of to get there?

Explore and Experiment

What do you want to do moving forward? More importantly, who do you want to be? What could your past experience be a springboard to? What talents (latent and otherwise) could you use? What skills do you have and what might you need to learn? How can you make the most of your existing network of contacts and how can you build that network? And what else? What is not obvious to you yet?

“Often trying to think harder in the same direction may not be as useful as changing direction.”

Edward De Bono

Ask For Help

This is not something you need to do alone. Sharing your thoughts and intentions magnifies their power. The sheer act of speaking the words out loud can help crystallise thinking and bring clarity to seemingly complex situations. A good listener asking the right questions will help uncover the jewels in the sand.

Take Action

Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours working, so to reinvent your career is to reinvent your life. Building a strategy and a path to get there is important. Taking action is vital. The whole process is likely to take time so, the sooner you take that first step, the better. To know something will not change your life: to do something about it will

If you find yourself, in your forties or fifties, in a career that no longer fulfils you, be clear about this: you do not have to suffer it for the next twenty or thirty years. There is still a lot of life to be lived and you have a contribution to make. Your experience and knowledge will be all the more valuable if you use it doing something that brings you joy.