Why your 50s might be the best time to start a new career

HOUSTON – Have you ever had a plan for life and it didn’t work out the way you thought it would? Sure, we all have. The key is to use those experiences and turn them into something positive. This is especially true for women of a certain age, as they move into their 50s and beyond. For many, this time is the perfect time for a change.

“Oftentimes the journey throws us something we are not prepared for,” said Life and Business strategist Miara Shaw. “We didn’t put it on our Google calendar. It’s not in our journey.”

Every experience is valuable

Shaw believes everything happens for a reason. Even the negative things can teach us something.

“I say, ‘There are no wasted experiences,’” she said. “Anytime it seems too dark to get over it or we are not even sure how we are going to get past it, if we keep pursuing the journey, we will find that brighter thing. It always, always works out.”

Shaw is not just teaching about positivity and reinvention, she has lived it herself. Once a high-powered energy trader, a layoff forced her to start her “second act.”

“I think reinvention sometimes comes later because we are forced into it,” she said. “As companies start to reorganize, it just so happens the ones that are a little older get sent out. But I think in our 50s, as well, we are more aware of what we like, what brings us joy and what brings us peace.”

Shaw coaches other women as they take up a reinvention. She said this time in a woman’s life is the perfect time to do something new.

“The over 50 group, we have settled a bit more about what we know about ourselves to be true,” she said. “In your 20s you are still discovering that. We’ve been doing what we felt our family wanted us to do or what the world has asked us to do and we’ve ignored our passion or our purpose.”

A woman in her 50s may realize she’s been focusing on others for too long, or maybe the kids are off to college and there’s just more time. Either way, Shaw said the key to starting a second act is to develop your passion.

“Each of us is born with a purpose, something we are going to deliver in the earth,” said Shaw.

Start thinking about how the skills you have now could translate into something new.

From the boardroom to the cattle farm

A big life change can be scary, but sometimes just seeing other people do it is motivation.

Debbie Degeyter Strange manages a cattle farm east of Houston. It’s a big change from her previous career, working for Texaco and Shell.

“My primary job was managing hospitality at NASCAR, Indy car races,” said Strange.

Once side-by-side with famous racecar drivers, Debbie’s co-workers are a little slower moving these days.

“I love it, I love it,” she said. “It’s a lot less stressful than being in a corporate environment.”

Strange said quickly learned corporate world duties help on the farm.

“My passion, when I was working was organization and commitment,” she said. “It takes a lot to manage your animals and to make sure they are always healthy.”

She admits it wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.

“I know it can be scary sometimes to make such a change because this is what you have been used too and this is comforting,” said Strange.

Teacher, trainer starts a career in roofing

Former teacher Angela Susan brought her career to a much “higher” level as she entered her 50s as a roofer.

“They see us jumping on the roof and we earn their respect,” said Susan.

From insurance claims and even roof tear-offs, she does it all.

“I swan dive into these new adventures,” she said.

For Susan, her skills in the classroom help in roofing.

“I like meeting people and I develop relationships with the customers,” she said.

She’s also a personal trainer, so being in shape for the demands of roofing is helpful, too.

Her advice for someone considering a change: “Don’t think too much about it. If I would have thought too much about this or about the training, I would have talked myself out of it. I don’t ever want to look back on my life and think, ‘Gosh, I really missed that opportunity.’ I refuse to do that. I’ll try anything.”

There is only one YOU

“Whatever your thing is, the world needs what you have,” said Shaw. “Each of us is born with a purpose, something we are going to deliver in the earth. Someone is waiting on the purpose you have.”

Need help finding your passion? Start by asking yourself a few questions:

  • What did you love to do as a child?
  • What could you talk about for hours and never get tired of hearing about?
  • If you had all of the money in the world, what would you do with your time?

Financial advisor Dave Ramsey developed a simple quiz to help narrow down your options. You can also try out this quiz from Dr. Anne Dranitsaris.

About the Authors:

Award-winning TV producer and content creator. My goal as a journalist is to help people. Faith and family motivate me. Running keeps me sane.