• Fear of Starting Over

    Starting a new career at age 50 or older can be exhilarating or daunting. Either way, it will come with some fear. Fear is like salt in a recipe. Too much and you won't like the taste, too little and you won't get the flavor you're seeking. The right amount of fear actually serves a purpose. It signifies you are moving beyond your comfort zone to pursue something better. Fear can protect you and motivate you to act. Learning how to overcome your fear of career change can help you with the next chapter in your work life.

    Face Your Fear

    Look at your fear. Recognize how it manifests in your body and mind. Is it a fear of the unknown? Failure? Changing careers can be a scary time. Once you identify the source of your fear, you can take steps to diminish it. For example, if you fear failure and have a fear of career change, adjust your thoughts on what failure means. Optimistic people view failure as an event or temporary setback that does not encompass their whole sense of being. They view it as a challenge that spurs them on to try harder.

    You can manage fear by getting fit mentally and physically. Stop negative thoughts about the past or the future and focus on what is truly happening now. Controlling your thoughts can help diminish stress. Also, keep moving. Cardio exercise protects against the effects of stress, anxiety, and fear.

    Plan, Prepare, Research

    If fear of the unknown has got you stuck, you can learn about what tools, support, and knowledge you will need to succeed in your new career. Teachers, career counselors, trusted friends, and technology use will boost your awareness of what's possible. You are not alone in your wish to succeed.

    However, all the planning, preparing, and research will be meaningless if you don't act. More information may not be what you need. Take a first step, however small, to build momentum towards your goal. If you need to enhance your computer skills, find a class or mentor to teach you. Get comfortable using technology. If you're interested in starting a new career you need to get out of your comfort zone.

    Stop Second Guessing

    Trust yourself. Replace limiting beliefs with positive affirmations. Follow your values when making decisions to help you come to the right choice. Remember how you responded to change in the past. How did you manage your fear? What avenues helped you adjust? What made you start to thrive in a new environment? How did you master the challenges presented by the new situation? When your goals are aligned with your interests, values, skills, and an understanding of what's involved, your fear of starting over dissipates.

    Another way to limit fear is to address worst-case scenarios that may run through your mind. Then think of their opposites. How would you answer the following questions:

    • What's the worst that can happen? What's the best that can happen?

    • What will hurt most? What will feel best?

    • How will I deal with rejection? How will I deal with success?

    Moving Forward

    The goals you set are not being dictated by anyone other than you. It is the process of moving forward that brings joy and overcoming your fear of career change and failure.

    Opportunities will open up that you may not have expected before. Remember that pursuit fuels passion-keep going and the number of choices available to you can grow.

    Also keep in mind that effort is needed. It is one of the other ingredients for change. If a step you took was not the right action, contemplate what happened and how you can remedy the situation. Try again with what you know now.

    What Can You Do to Begin Today?

    You can talk to someone who made a career change later in life or register for a class. Watch out for self-imposing obstacles. You might think that mature adults can't start over, but Colonel Sanders founded Kentucky Fried Chicken and Laura Ingalls Wilder started writing well past the age of 50. Ronald Reagan held his first public office at the age of 55.

    Or you might think that classes are beyond your reach because you're working full time and the nearest institution is many miles away. Easy-to-use technology can bring those classes to you. Online learning gives you access that transcends geography and age. As of 2013, approximately one third of the labor force was ages 50 and older. Don't let fear stop you from starting over.

    If you are a Kaplan University student or alumni, contact Kaplan University's online Career Services site for further tips and suggestions.

    What's your next step for starting over?

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    It is important to note that certain career paths are growing and our degrees are designed to strengthen your knowledge and prepare our students to advance their careers. But Kaplan University cannot guarantee employment or career advancement. Several factors specific to a student’s or alumni’s backgrounds and actions, as well as economic and job conditions, affect employment. Also, keep in mind that national long-term projections covered in articles may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.


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