Career advice for the over 40s: How to handle career setbacks

When you experience career setbacks and things are not going the way you hoped in your career – perhaps you are being blocked for a promotion or restructuring has affected your career path; you need a way forward. So what can you do to handle career setbacks like these?

Be realistic, be ready to adapt, be versatile. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of ‘good enough’; play the cards you are dealt and find the advantage in your current career situation, because there is always some way to turn career setbacks to your advantage if you have the right mindset.

Failure is part of life, and something we should embrace as part of the learning experience. The starting point for development is the adoption of an attitude whereby you seek to stretch yourself and persevere even; especially when things are not going well, this is the hallmark of the growth mindset.

Career planning

Your career is your responsibility and it’s smart to have a plan for the near future, but you may need a re-think if:

  1. You are bored and feel your job lacks challenge, appeal and fun
  2. Promotion and/or development opportunities are limited
  3. You don’t feel you are learning anything new, it’s all routine
  4. Your talent and skill seem to be going to waste
  5. You are stressed or feel unappreciated, unengaged, disconnected

Successful career management is built on identification of your values, interests and skills and then developing those and investing time and effort in a chosen career path. Aim to build and grow, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that years of experience are what counts. If you are not fully invested in career development, there’s danger of ending up with 10 years of experience that is, effectively, one year of experience replicated 10 times.

So when facing career setbacks, be honest with yourself, call on your resilience and apply some self-awareness to navigating the challenges and setbacks you face.

Bounce back from career setbacks with a growth mindset

People with a “growth mindset” relish challenge, strive to learn, and consistently see the potential to develop new skills and uncover new opportunities. I suggest a threefold approach:

  • Check your assumptions – challenge the standard perspective, keep an open mind and resist the temptation to blindly accept the status quo; instead, be willing to consider the options and embrace the possibilities.
  • Value diversity – a broad range of perspectives and backgrounds can facilitate creative and innovative approaches and reactions to barriers and challenges.
  • Seek out training, development and networking opportunities – aim for wide-ranging interaction throughout and beyond your organisation, seek out work assignments that take you out of your usual work environment, learn from colleagues and embrace knowledge-sharing as these are all ways to broaden your horizons and spark new ideas.

Now do some goal-setting

Some of the benefits of setting goals:

  • Increased motivation when goals are realistic and attainable.
  • Provides a performance focus.
  • Bolsters the work ethic and fosters perseverance with a goal in sight.
  • Facilitates feedback and benchmarking.

Settle on some realistic targets where you can measure progress; if you have a clear view of where you want to be, it is easier to evaluate forward momentum. By setting and taking action towards your goals, you will bolster your self-confidence. If you need to make changes, then bite the bullet and take control – a healthier work-life balance will result in greater productivity and motivation.

Design a clear plan of action, chunk big goals into the milestones needed to achieve your overall goal. Plan smaller objectives into your daily to-do list and create momentum with regular work towards your goal. Each small change paves the way for bigger changes; so, every day ask yourself what can I do today that helps me reach my goal?

Make a change

Learning agility helps us find new ways to tackle setbacks and challenges. When it is no longer a question of doing better what you did before – when running harder and faster doesn’t help – what you need are new behaviours and innovative solutions. Reframe your reference points in order to develop radical and creative responses is crucial.

To grow professionally, you need to challenge your perspectives, biases and opinions. The greater the diversity of your experience and the wider the range of your network, the better the career opportunities you are likely to encounter. Look for opportunities that will enable your development; don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice, ask to work on projects that interest you or with people who inspire you.

The stronger your professional network, the more likely you are to meet people who will help your career growth. Aim to make new contacts and build a robust professional; don’t lose contact with former co-workers or bosses. Attend events, trade shows, and conferences that will help you meet and exchange contacts with other professionals.

Liz Sebag-Montefiore is the Co-founder and Director of 10Eighty,  helping individuals and organisations to maximise their potential.  To excel your career., improve performance and give a sense of focus in terms of career direction why not get a coach? Find one here.

How to be your own boss and take the plunge

Self-employment has boomed in recent years; it’s no easy option but deserves careful consideration to ensure it’s the right choice for you if you’re thinking you want to be your own boss. Self-employment offers a route to independence, enables you to take charge of your own destiny while you pursue a meaningful career path. Want to be your own boss? We outline key considerations as well as how to take the plunge.

Be your own boss: The basics

As of April 2022, there were around 4.21 million self-employed workers in the United Kingdom. The largest percentage of those are between 45 and 54 years of age, with the 35-44 age group representing the second largest group.

For some, it is a lifestyle choice achievable by:

  • setting up a business, either on a full-time basis or alongside a part-time job;
  • working as a freelancer or contractor;
  • buying into a franchise.

There’s a high level of commitment involved in starting a business, so you need to take a careful and realistic look at yourself to see if you are ready for such a challenge. Auditing your skills and personality and building a support team of family, friends and advisers is as important as your idea and motivation.

Important things to consider before taking the plunge to be your own boss

In traditional employment it is usual to work on a predetermined range of tasks and projects. As an entrepreneur, all the work falls to you. Do you know what tasks you will need extra support with? Can you handle the finance, accounting, IT issues and all the related administration?

You will probably have to work long hours with limited financial rewards, at least at first. There may be times when you doubt yourself and the wisdom of embarking on this venture. A support system helps you through tough times and may be a big factor in your success.

You need to be someone who can meet and deal positively with challenges. With plenty of confidence in yourself, and the energy and mental toughness to get to cope with difficult times, which you will inevitably face.

be your own boss

Some drawbacks

Most people go out to work because they like meeting people; when you work for yourself, until you are successful enough to start taking on staff, you have to do the scut-work as well as the executive decision-making and all without the water-cooler moments. If you need regular feedback and validation, if you find it hard to motivate yourself, self-employment may not be your best option.

Be aware, it’s hard work when you end up doing the VAT at the weekend – it’s this sort of thing that can drive people back to traditional employment. It can take 18 months or more to establish yourself, and a large percentage of small businesses fail in those first months. All the decisions and responsibility will fall on you; you will have to sort out all the mistakes and problems.

The most cited drawbacks are social isolation and insecurity and those who give up self-employment so, by and large, for these reasons:

  • Insecurity and unpredictability of income;
  • Missing the sense of identity that a role in a corporation provides;
  • Lack of the social camaraderie that an organisational role provides, this is very significant for many people.

Plan and prepare

If running your own business is a serious ambition, start planning as far ahead as you can. Work on developing skills which are relevant to self-employment and focus on building the skills, experience and contacts you will need. You will have to rely on your own entrepreneurial energy to win work and to establish new income streams, while building your value proposition.

If self-employment is a potential option then you should consider:

  • personal and financial assets and liabilities;
  • lifestyle aspirations;
  • support systems and commitments.

Do a risk assessment, it takes commitment to succeed. People who are self-aware and know when they need to call on others for help, support and guidance are most likely to succeed as entrepreneurs.

be your own boss

Be your own boss: Taking the plunge!

Think of the many benefits of self-employment – as your own boss, you work when and where you want to work, and you work for those you want to work with control of your time, energy and life.

If you can identify your USP, are professional and resilient, and confident with the skills to build your client base, perhaps it’s time to think about registering with HMRC as self-employed. You’ll need a business bank account and insurance. You’ll have to decide on a company structure, acquire accounting software and design a marketing strategy.

Launching a business may be a good career move. It’s not without its challenges, but if you reflect on your needs and work preferences, research your options and assess the challenges and benefits of setting up your own venture, you’ll be well equipped to make an informed decision about being your own boss.

Liz Sebag-Montefiore is the Co-founder and Director of 10Eighty,  helping individuals and organisations to maximise their potential.  To excel your career., improve performance and give a sense of focus in terms of career direction why not get a coach? Find one here.

I hate my job: 6 signs you are having a mid-career crisis (and what to do next)

Have the thoughts “I hate my job” crossed your mind recently? If our jobs are great and we love them (no matter how banal they might seem to others), then we feel good about ourselves. There will probably come a point where we look at what we have achieved so far and reckon up accomplishments and setbacks, and consider planning the next stage of working life – stick or change.

If we feel that progress has stalled, whether disenchanted, frustrated or just bored, there are remedies; a mid-career crisis is a chance to reflect and review what has gone well and what can be done to build for the future.

It is not the responsibility of the organisation to manage the careers of employees, though good employers have career and talent management policies and programmes. They may be good at engaging and developing employees, but career planning is a personal responsibility. It is probably time for a re-think if:

  1. Your job lacks challenge, appeal and fun
  2. Promotion or development opportunities are limited
  3. You’re not learning anything new, it’s all routine
  4. You feel your talent and skill is being wasted
  5. You are stressed and/or feel unappreciated, unengaged, disconnected and undervalued
  6. It’s no longer fun

The career MOT

Reaching a career ceiling doesn’t mean a lack of drive and tenacity to rise further. But there may come a point where fresh challenges appeal. Keeping a career afloat may feel like navigating hazardous and murky waters, especially during mergers and acquisitions, downsizing, ‘right sizing,’ and ‘offshoring’.

A career MOT will afford you some time for reflection before making an action plan. Focus and reflect, nothing is set in stone; the career plan envisaged when you were 23 may no longer be relevant now – that’s fine, just start over.

What if your career is broken? What if you are totally in the wrong space – is there anything you can do? Go back to fundamentals. What do you like doing? Think about your achievements to date and think big, don’t be modest. Life is full achievements – big and small, they all count.

hate my job

Build and grow

Career management rests on identification of your values, interests and skills and then building on those and investing time and effort in a chosen career path. Aim to build and grow, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that years of experience are what counts. If you are not fully invested in career development, there’s danger of ending up with 10 years of experience that is, effectively, one year of experience replicated 10 times.

Survival is about ensuring you appeal to employers over the long run. Ensure you have portable skills that will carry you through your short-term career goals and enable momentum towards a long-term plan. Build a portfolio of roles and interests and commitments that will constitute a real investment in a career path that provides fulfilment.

It’s sensible to plan ahead, managing your career by choosing roles with a range of employers that will increase your employability and transferable skills that so when you are looking to make a move, you are able to make sustainable and fulfilling choices.

Making change happen

Whether it is a mid-career crisis or a nagging sense of disenchantment, you can make a change if you are no longer fulfilled in your job. Life is too short to stay in a job you dislike or that makes you unhappy.

Prepare – ask yourself some searching questions. Think about what you would really love to do, how you want to spend your life, what matters to you and ask yourself what your dream job would look like.

Research – spend time reading and study your area/(s) of interest. Seek mentors and those working in your profession or field of interest to advise you.

Plan – review and evaluate the realistic options, devise a plan whether that is for a new job, a promotion, a new direction or starting your own business. Portfolio workers and entrepreneurs sometimes began their new careers in their 60s or older.

hate my job

Redesign your career – rather than a completely new career path, you may be able to make changes to your current role – look around to see where you might fit and achieve your objectives, at least in the short-term. Use your current job to accrue the necessary skills, contacts, leads and opportunities that will help you.

Be positive – it is never too late, you are never too stuck to make a change. Focus on your skills and experience and on making that move forward. Finally, success in any career requires one to be flexible, open-minded, versatile and resilient; and an inclination to engage in lifelong learning is increasingly important for the ambitious.

Have the thoughts I hate my job crossed your mind lately? If so, it might be time for a career change….

Liz Sebag-Montefiore is the Co-founder and Director of 10Eighty,  helping individuals and organisations to maximise their potential.  To excel your career., improve performance and give a sense of focus in terms of career direction why not get a coach? Find one here.

Digital people photo created by ijeab, Women work photo created by ViDIstudio

Create a roadmap to change your life with the 7 stages or purpose

Are you hoping to change your life? For many people, their 40s is when they reflect on relationships, friends, and things like work/life balance – a time to assess where they are. For others, it is a time when they’ve really hit their stride, and often this is because they have found their purpose.

Look at 46-year-old actress and filmmaker Reese Witherspoon. A few years ago, she founded the production company Pacific Standard—which is now a subsidiary of her media company Hello Sunshine—to share stories written by women, with a female lead, brought to the screen by women. As Reese pitched her business venture to investors, she was informed that no one would want to watch films with a female lead, that this was not a profitable venture. She invested her own money, which she was also told was a mistake.

But with a purpose to share women’s stories on the big screen to change the narrative of women in US culture, Reese Witherspoon’s first two film productions with female leads, Wild and Gone Girl, grossed half a billion dollars. She also produced the hugely successful TV series Big Little Lies, The Morning Show, Little Fires Everywhere, and the film from the best-selling book Where the Crawdad Sings is due for release in July 2022. 

We are all born with a purpose. As unique as your fingerprint, it is held within your heart, your reason for being, your north star. With your purpose placed at the heart of your life you benefit from clarity of focus and direction. On the occasions self-doubt creeps in, purpose empowers you. Decisions become easier as you choose the path aligned with the fulfilment of your purpose.

Your purpose doesn’t arrive one day ‘boom!’ fully formed, expressed, and embodied. There are recognisable stages to the growth and development of your purpose. These stages are not linear. You may experience more than one stage at a time, and some stages last longer than others. And when you become aware of the stage you are at, you have a map and can more easily participate in your purpose being fulfilled.

Here are the seven stages of purpose. Use these to create a roadmap to change your life. Take a look and decide where you are, and this will help you define the next steps you need to take towards your true purpose and passion.

The 7 stages of purpose to help your change your life

1. Calling

You sense you have a bigger purpose than what is currently being expressed. There may be a sense of ‘something’ missing, a frustration, a sensation pulling you towards ‘something’ you can’t quite understand, it is led by a desire for more – more meaning, contribution and impact.

Simon Haas, yoga philosopher and author of The Book of Dharma and Yoga and Dark Night of the Soul shares that your purpose emerges naturally when you live your true nature.

This is echoed by Jill Ellis, former coach of the USA Women’s Soccer Team sharing the experience of opening up to her team that she was married to Betsy Stephenson, a woman. Fully supported, the US women’s team went on to campaign for equal pay for women using the World Cup as their global platform. Jill said: “When I became open in who I was, I found my purpose there.”

When you experience a calling, practice bringing more of your true nature into your life every day, and as you do, your purpose is revealed to you.

2. Receive

As you follow your true nature, you begin to receive a sense of your purpose, the more you receive the clearer it becomes. At this stage, stay curious. Don’t deny it or push it away. Embrace and begin to own your purpose.

change your life

3. Articulate

As you embrace your purpose, articulate it in a few simple words that inspire and resonate with your heart. The simpler the better. For example, TheTeen Yoga Foundation has a purpose to empower young people through yoga so that there’s a generation of kids with self-esteem, resilience and mental wellness. Maddy Cooper, co-founder of Brilliant Noise, has a purpose of protecting the earth so that families have a bright future, with sustainable marketing for brands that really mean it.

4. Align

Now your purpose is clearly articulated the next step is to align your decisions, actions, behaviours, products and services with your purpose. Let go of any aspects of your life that are not aligned with your purpose. This can take courage, but it is worth it.

5. Embody

As you make decisions aligned with your purpose, you shift from an intellectual understanding to your purpose becoming a tangible, living expression. The more you can appreciate the deep fulfilment, value and impact embodying your purpose brings, the more you grow.

change your life

6. Lead

As you grow in the embodiment of your true nature and purpose you are now ‘walking your talk’. There is a noticeable dedication, integrity and congruence and this inspires others. At this stage, as you communicate and share the wisdom of your experience openly and transparently, you become a recognised leader in your field.

7. Evolution

Your purpose, your north star, becomes an evolutionary force, both in your personal and business development taking you into the unknown, towards new frontiers. If you haven’t already, here you are invited to surrender more deeply, to let go of what wants to go and allow what wants to come.

Kat Byles is the Founder of the True Business School, for creative leaders, entrepreneurs, teachers, artists and healers who want to do business differently. She works with people to find and align with their purpose and creativity to build a happy, healthy, wealthy business and world. Why not get in touch and find out how she can help you change your life for the better.

Photos by Julia Avamotive, Joshua Abner, Thought Catalog

Five steps to find your voice in your 40’s

Do you find you struggle to speak up and be heard?  You try and speak only for someone to interrupt you and finish off your conversation. Do you feel like no one is listening? It feels like your opinions, ideas and thoughts are not important enough.   When you feel like no-one is listening to you it can make us feel unvalued, unappreciated, and just damn right fed up.  It can affect our self-esteem and our confidence. We scream inside our heads ‘why won’t you let me speak?’  We hear voices in our own head telling us not to bother; it’s not worth it as no-one listens anyway.  But it doesn’t have to feel and be this way.  All you have to do, is make a few changes and you’ll be amazed the difference that it will make. 

Step 1: Control your thoughts

Be in control of your thoughts; they can either help you or hindebr you.  Your thoughts can either empower you or disempower you, encourage you or stop you.  Your thoughts can change your life now and for the future.  Choose them wisely.  When negative thoughts pop in your head; challenge them.  Are they true?  Really true? Ask yourself is it true or are you just scared of the outcome?  Do you fear failure is that why these negative thoughts appear?  If so, challenge that thought. Turn each thought around, upside down and inside out until you feel it’s truth.  Challenge your thoughts to get the lifestyle that you want. 

Be brave, push yourself and the changes can really happen; it’s all in the power of your thoughts. For example, you’re heading to a meeting at work and you want to talk about an idea but your thoughts are; ‘no-one will listen to you’, ‘They will just interrupt me anyway’, ‘it probably won’t work’ and before you know it you decide to not even bother speaking up.  What if you changed your thoughts to; ‘I’ll explain all the reasons why this is a good idea’, ‘if they interrupt me, I’ll ask them to let me finish’, ‘this idea is amazing and will make a real positive difference’, ‘go on girl, you can do this’.  Can you see the difference on how you will feel when you turn those thoughts around?

Step 2: Be passionate, not emotional

Doesn’t it just make you crazy when someone says this to you ‘you’re being emotional’!  Your feelings of frustration get higher and higher, and things just got a hell of lot worse.  When this happens its crucial to flip back to Step 1.  Control your thoughts.  Most of the time we are being passionate about a certain subject only when we feel we are not being listened to does our passion turn to emotional, either upset, frustrations and anger.  Let’s not forget that our hormones will certainly be raging at this point when our emotions kick in.  When this occurs, tell yourself to stop.  Stop speaking, inhale a deep breath of calm and exhale the stress. Reflect and remind yourself why this important and start again.  Interrupt the emotion and get back the passion.

Step 3: Call it out

If someone interrupts you; talks over you, shuts you down, call it out.  Ask them to kindly let you finish the conversation without being interrupted.  Most of the time people don’t realise that they actually do it.  If it’s during an argument I think we are all guilty of this from time to time, so just be aware that you don’t interrupt too.  Let people speak and then you can challenge them to let you speak too.

Step 4: Listen to understand, don’t listen to respond

Sometimes we react and respond too quickly because we want to get our point across but when we do that our minds are not fully listening to what the other person has actually said.  They may have a totally different perspective, but they may not be wrong, and you can respond too quickly before you fully understand the other persons reasoning.  Think about the number 6 and 9.  If one person is viewing it upside down you can see why they would be adamant that they are right when they believe it’s a number 6 versus the view the other persons sees which is a 9.  Again, our changing hormones won’t help us as we can get easily fired up.  When we sense this happening, this is when we must tell ourselves to stop.  Take that breathe, check your and theirs perspective, and start again.

Step 5: Know that there is always a way

Decide and know what you want, challenge those beliefs that are getting in the way. Trust and believe that there is always a way because seek and you shall always find.

Sara Harling author of ‘Why Won’t You Let Me Speak?’  Available at Amazon, Waterstones and The Hive.

Photos by Polina Tankilevitch and Pexels

Feeling dissatisified with work? 5 important questions to ask yourself about your next career step

If you’re noticing you’re feeling dissatisfied with work or experiencing a lack of direction, what’s the best approach to getting back on track? I believe it’s important for everyone to enjoy their job, and to find meaning and fulfilment in their career.

If you’re feeling dissatisfied with work, ask yourself some questions:

  • Are you happy with the direction of your work and career?
  • Are you really doing what you want to do and going in your planned direction?
  • Do you feel in control of your growth, development, and future?
  • Are you where you want to be?
  • Have you accomplished all you thought you would by now?

It’s a sort of career MOT; the process allows you to evaluate your career direction and strategy.

Guidance and challenge for when you’re feeling dissatisfied with work

Bill Gates says: “Everyone needs a coach. We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”

Lots of very effective managers have coaches, however well you are performing you probably aspire to do even better. Coaching is about objective challenge and providing a sounding board to enable an employee to push themselves. It is about enabling you to become even better at what you do, affording the space and time to think, about pushing to be more.

We use a coaching app 10eighty.co.uk that allows clients and coaches to make contact and contract with each other. Then they can work, communicate and meet, sync calendars, share information and resources, and have access to training courses, podcasts and discussion forums.

The personal touch

Online coaching is facilitated by technology, but the personal touch still matters and it’s good to have the choice of online or face to face. For a busy manager, it’s a bonus to be able to access resources at a time that suits them and to be able to organise interactions online.

Unlike training, coaching is predicated on continuous learning and developing capability to build confidence and skills while anticipating challenges and maximizing potential and opportunities. Research by the ILM has found that amongst those who have received coaching, improved confidence, performance, and productivity are cited as three of the most positive changes witnessed for themselves, others and their wider team or organisation.

An experienced coach will challenge and support you to develop greater self-awareness while encouraging you to put yourself outside your comfort zone to learn how to raise performance at work and help tap into your full potential.

Be your best self

Chart a career path for yourself – where do you want to be next year, in five years, what will success look like? Commit to a professional development plan and take ownership of your career capital and stated long-term development objectives.

I favour a strengths-based coaching approach with a focus on building and using innate strengths to perform better and be energised by work, to sustain high performance, and increase confidence and engagement at work.

Motivated employees actively want opportunities to learn and grow, seek out different experiences, try new things, new projects and perspectives; and this diversity of experience is really important to employers now; they need employees with learning agility who proactively seek to learn and grow as human beings in order to do their best work.

Moving forward

A technique I sometimes use with coaching clients is to ask them to think of two things:

  • What did you enjoy doing when you were a child – before life got in the way? Can you use these memories to help find your true passion?
  • Try a new perspective and think about being very old – what might you wish you had spent your life doing?

Next identify the goals that will enable you to follow the career path you have chosen. That enables you to seek out training, stretch assignments, secondments, and coaching etc. that will afford you the experience to expand your skillset and develop towards the roles and career you want. Use a skills-based development approach to create a dynamic action plan.

Own your career – build on strengths, embrace new experiences, and keep skills fresh and up to date so you can be future-focused. We can’t exactly predict the skills that will be needed in five or ten years, so flexibility, versatility and adaptability are increasingly important, and employees need to respond to organisational change and be ready and willing to learn and acquire new skills and experiences.

Future proof your career

The world of work has changed and whatever your role, there is no guarantee of a job for life. You can’t even be sure that the job you take at the start of your career will still exist when you reach retirement age. To succeed in a dynamic environment, you must develop the skills and behaviours that will enable you to manage your career path effectively and confidently.

To be able to bring the best of yourself to work, you must be able to express creativity while being accountable for decision-making and productivity. I encourage everyone to invest in their employability not just for the current job but for the inevitable change ahead.

Research shows that 81% of employees feel that they don’t make full use of their talents at work. It’s important to seek roles that allow you to explore new avenues, to broaden your perspective and to engage with fresh challenges. Then you will be ready for the next challenge.

If you’re feeling dissatisfied with work, we hope the above inspires you to look at how you can make change.

Liz Sebag-Montefiore is the Co-founder and Director of 10Eighty,  helping individuals and organisations to maximise their potential.  To excel your career., improve performance and give a sense of focus in terms of career direction why not get a coach? Find one here.

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