Everyone’s journey through life is unique, our paths altered by the decisions we take along the way. That’s why it can be helpful to talk to people who’ve been at a similar crossroads or who can offer support in navigating some of life’s bigger decisions. We’ve brought together people who have never met to share their stories and perhaps inspire others to adapt the way they think about their futures. People like Stacey and Rachel who, for different reasons, made a big change in their careers and have never looked back.
As we embrace living longer, we also need to shift our thinking around the traditional ‘study, work, retire’ mindset and embrace change. After all, why shouldn’t someone be able to switch careers at 50 without being suspected of a midlife crisis? And why can’t a parent and child be studying for new professional qualifications at the same time?
We believe that jobs for life are increasingly rare, with more people taking ‘squiggly’ career paths as they’re impacted by planned or unexpected life events throughout our longer lives. Despite this, there can still be a tendency to think less about making changes to your career as you get older.
Our research shows that a third of 45-54 year olds are expecting to change their career before they retire, although many don’t know how best to go about it. And, because awareness of careers advice services tends to be lowest among older age groups, it can seem like a change of direction is out of reach.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. We come across inspiring stories every day. Take Stacey who was made redundant from a corporate job in his mid-40s and used the opportunity to pursue a more creative career: his own tattoo business.
If, like him, you don’t envisage yourself in the same job forever, it’s important to think proactively about where you want your career to go at 50, 60 and beyond. This can help you enjoy a fulfilling work life and ensure you’re as prepared as you can be for the retirement you want, when you want it.
When you’re ten or 20 years into a career, it can be natural to see a change in direction as daunting. Particularly the concern it may not pay off financially. But circumstances change over the course of our lives and so, it’s equally natural that our work can – and should – too.
You might find yourself at 45, looking for a job which fits better with family commitments. Or at 65, wanting a change that allows you to continue working despite a health condition. For Rachel, the catalyst in making a change was a health emergency during her first pregnancy. This difficult life event prompted her to rethink the direction her life was taking and switch from a 20-year modelling career to a role at a private bank.
Whatever your situation, you may be surprised how many are in the same boat. It’s time we started rowing!
Career switching may be an attractive prospect, but this doesn’t make it easy. Rapidly changing technology means that the pressure to keep up and reskill is constant. And there can be reticence to ‘going back to school’ later in life.
At Phoenix Group, we’re taking proactive steps to help build awareness of the options and support available. As an employer, we support colleagues with career workshops and encourage open personal development conversations with line managers to shape people’s careers in the way that they want. We’re also giving colleagues in their 40s, 50s and 60s the opportunity to get some holistic and tailored advice about their wealth, health and career. By sponsoring National Older Workers Week 2023, we’re celebrating the contribution experienced workers bring to businesses, as well as inspiring those individuals to reimagine their later working lives.
More broadly, there are plenty of brilliant organisations, tools and resources you can turn to by searching the internet, including our Careers Can Change website. Support is there, so do take every advantage of the help on offer and maximise the potential of living longer.
Whatever our age, we all have the power to do something different – with the right support. So, think about your destination and fellow travellers, talk to the people who can help you plan your journey, and… enjoy the ride!
If you’d like to share your thoughts with others in a similar situation, join the conversation using #LivingLonger, or check out our campaign here.