In this week's blog: in your 50s, you need to think carefully about what you would like to achieve and what you might enjoy in the next 15 or so years.
"Welcome to the workplace!
“You’re going to spend the next 15 years in a job that you don’t particularly enjoy.
“You’ll feel that your potential is being wasted because you have so much more to contribute, and long for new challenges or to find a way to spend more time with your family.
“But guess what, you’ll be stuck, because you need the income!
“Sign here on the dotted line, to accept the position…..”
It doesn’t sound very attractive, does it?
And most people wouldn’t sign – they would run the other way.
But there’s one category of employees who routinely end up trapped in this situation or similar…
…despite very often being well-qualified, with enormous amounts to offer any workplace.
You – and many of your best colleagues - may be at risk.
I’m referring, of course, to people in their 50s.
Whether or not this is you just yet, there are still things you need to consider.
At that age, you are not ready to retire yet - in many ways you are in your professional prime! You are still energetic and are amongst your company’s most experienced and skilled staff members.
Yet all too often, your career stagnates…
...perhaps because your own needs have changed at this transitional stage of your life - suddenly having to help elderly parents for example, or needing a new challenge after 30+ years of work.
Even though, realistically, you still have another 15-20 years left of work, it can feel late in the day to make significant changes. And you might not be sure how your company will react either.
That’s when you end up feeling stuck and frustrated, worried that you’re going to spend the next decade or more ‘coasting’ in a job that you don’t love any more, but also can’t afford to give up yet.
Could you really bear to spend 15 years feeling this way?
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been talking about the need to carefully plan during this ‘mid-career’ phase of your life, putting together strategies to improve your health and wealth so you can fulfil your potential as you approach retirement.
You – and your employees - need to do the same for the final 15-20 years of your career.
Don’t leave it to chance – take control!
In your 50s, you need to think carefully about what you would like to achieve and what you might enjoy in the next 15 or so years.
>> Are you happy continuing along your current career path, or do you have other goals? Is it time to try your hand at something completely different – or even set up your own company?
>> If there are aspects of your job you no longer find fulfilling, would a different position appeal to you more, or will there be additional responsibilities you could take on (for example, mentoring younger workers) which might make the difference?
Could you find the necessary fulfilment elsewhere, for example through volunteering?
>> How about events beyond your control, like the arrival of grandchildren, or the need to take care of loved ones? Could these affect your work?
>> Can you continue working at the same pace for the foreseeable future, or is it time to start winding down, for example dropping travel or limiting your work hours?
>> Finally, could you afford to reduce your hours if necessary? What kind of income do you really need to sustain the lifestyle you want, before you retire?
Once you have formed a vision for your final years of work, you can start putting together a plan to make it happen – systematically putting in place any missing skills, experience or resources.
At a certain point, it might also be useful to speak to your employer. As a valued employee, you may find that they are a lot more accommodating than you think. As an employer myself, I have welcomed staff members who have openly discussed with me their intentions, because it helps me plan ahead as well.
And there have been several cases where I’ve been able to retain good staff members who would otherwise have left, just by making some small tweaks to their job description or work conditions.
That’s why it is in employers’ interests to help their “mid-career” staff plan effectively for their final decade or two in the workplace.
We want our staff members to be productive, impactful and happy – and this process helps ensure that remains the case in a cohort which still has much to contribute, but is undergoing enormous change and can sometimes be a little neglected.
In fact, there is a specific framework I recommend for employers to use, to help staff in their 50s plan for their futures.
I’ll walk you through that very soon - so keep an eye out.