I was someone who always seemed to be able to maintain my ideal weight, give or take 5 or so pounds. I never felt like I had to count every single calorie or deprive myself. I could always enjoy the occasional splurge without a problem.
Was I just blessed with amazing metabolism? Did I just happen to be the winner of the genes lottery where I never had to worry about losing weight?
Nope, turns out I was just in my twenties…
As soon as I hit forty, that cruel reality set in. A reality I’m guessing many of you might be familiar with too. After a certain age, it’s really, really, really, yes, really hard to lose weight.
Truth be told, that’s often the same reality when it comes to career switching. Earlier on in your career, there are certainly still challenges but it’s easier and even expected to move around from company to company and industry to industry. But, after a certain period of time and yes, after a certain age, it can be really, really, really, yes, really hard to jumpstart your career metabolism.
Just like you cannot rely on a quickie cleanse or the hottest exercise trend, you cannot merely send out a couple resumes a week and expect miracles. A networking dinner once a month may not cut it. Scanning sites like LinkedIn or The Muse at your lunch hour might not be enough.
For a later-in-life career search, here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Set your eyes on the long-term
Like losing weight after forty, finding the perfect career or position takes more time and it’s wise to set your expectations appropriately. If you get an offer right away, you’ll be happily surprised but realizing that it may take longer – maybe even longer than six months, but a year or maybe two— will help ward off feelings of disappointment and discouragement that can be the biggest obstacle to being hired.
2. Make sure your efforts are consistent and frequent
I still don’t count calories and sometimes skip the gym for some juicy reality TV, but I’m more mindful than ever about what I’m eating and try to exercise at least three times a week, even when demands of work and family pull me in another direction.
Job-hunting requires the same consistent, frequent effort, especially if you are facing challenges like moving to a completely different industry or making a move later in life. If you are already holding another full-time job, commit to at least five hours a week toward sending out resumes and reaching out to your network. If your timeline is shorter and finding a new job is more urgent or if you are currently not working full-time, these hours should be increased significantly. Basically your current job plus your job search in total should equate to at least forty hours. This means that if you are not working at all, finding a new job becomes your full-time job.
3. Track Your Progress
I finally committed to keeping a food journal for a week to get a better sense of my diet and when I was over-indulging. I was very resistant to this because I swore that I knew this information already and it just seemed tedious. But it worked. I could no longer hide under vague generalities but could point to the exact moments (e.g. the 10:00pm nightly microwave popcorn ritual!) when I was self-sabotaging my efforts to be healthier.
Like a food journal, having a “job search” journal for tracking your progress is a great tool. I had a client who swore she was putting in x-number of hours only to find that 15 minutes sending out a resume or making a phone call did not add up to the amount of time I was encouraging her to put in. Nor was scanning social media or job sites having the same impact as actual meeting a key influencer in person for coffee. Track what you do daily and evaluate it at the end of each week to see if you need to increase the time and change the activities you are doing to have a greater impact.
Whether losing weight or finding a new job, more than half the battle is your mindset. We start off job searching with so much enthusiasm and confidence, only to falter a few weeks in because we didn’t get the results we wanted.
Have some go-to tools and support readily available that you can rely on when you are feeling down about your progress. Maybe that’s means going for a walk or calling a trusted friend or coach who’ll give you a confidence boost. Maybe it’s a playlist or your favorite personal growth book (I highly recommend Self-Coaching 101 by Brooke Castillo or Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck, or the new best-seller Born For This by Chris Guillebeau).
I cannot stress this enough. Having a great resume means nothing if the first impression a recruiter has of you is someone who lacks confidence and joy.
The key with all of these tips is to trust and believe that a new career that lights you up is possible, no matter what stage of life you are in. It may require a different set of strategies and effort than what worked in the past, but before you know it, you’ll jumpstart that career metabolism in no time.
Related Post: The Complete Guide to Career Change
- What Losing Weight After 40 and Your Career Change Have in Common - May 28, 2016
- How I Learned to Embrace Failure - April 4, 2016