Working Transitions

barack to the drawing board embarking on a new career in later life

Barack Obama leaves the White House in January after 8 years as President of the United States and with many more years of public service under his belt. A recent mock interview during The Late Show saw him jokingly explain away his lack of promotion throughout his tenure as due to ‘no room for advancement in the role of president’.

As he starts to explore his post-presidency venture, it is clear that he is not going to be short of opportunity –  with vast and varied experience as well as leadership skills that are crystal clear for all to see, at the age of 55 Obama will need to decide which direction his career should take.

For many individuals who have worked in such senior positions, a portfolio career is the way to go – utilising a varied skill set by keeping ‘fingers in many pies’ – often by setting up a consultancy business to provide expertise to other organisations, volunteering or public speaking. Others choose to establish their own business or take a completely different path and explore an alternative career.

Career change in later life is growing in popularity – many older people find that they have greater flexibility to explore options that were not available to them in earlier life due to family or financial commitments. They often have a wealth of transferable skills along with an increased confidence in their abilities and a better awareness of their strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes which sets them up extremely well for new challenges.

A recent study conducted by the American Institute for Economic Research showed that 82% of participants who made a career change after 45 were successful in their transition – they report being happier in their new roles with many earning more than they did previously. With the average worker anticipating retirement at 66 – or even later – a change of career can be both revitalising and rewarding.

Having a clear vision is vital if you want to achieve your end goals and be successful in your new career choice. Developing a vision statement to inspire and motivate you will help you on your journey. The following tips (adapted from Randall S. Hansen of Quintessential Careers can help you develop your vision statement – whether you’re working alone or with a career coach:

Suspend logic – When thinking about your career vision remember – anything is possible! Find ways around potential barriers. The following ‘blue sky’ questions can help your creativity. Reflect on each:

  • How do YOU define career success? Have you achieved success at some level to date?
  • What job will help you to achieve complete success?
  • What would you want to do today if money were no object?
  • What would your career look like if you had the power to make it any way you wanted?
  • What would you like your career obituary to say about your career accomplishments?
  • Who are the people you most admire? Why?
  • What one activity do you love? Is it part of your career? What can you do to make it part of your career?
  • What would you like your career to look like in 5 years? 10 years?

Pull it all together into a career vision statement. Write a short, concise statement along with a brief description of how you see yourself accomplishing it. Write everything in the present tense – as if you have already achieved it. This creates the right frame of mind and confidence in your future.

Keep it visible! Once you have created your vision statement post it in various places.  Read it and say it aloud regularly. Imagine yourself achieving your vision. Constantly reinforcing this image will help you both consciously and unconsciously to achieve your goals.

Review your statement regularly. Your vision can – and most likely will – change as you move closer to it.


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Working Transitions
27 October 2016
Supporting effective and successful organisational change


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