1 Feel what you need to feel (no guilt allowed!)
As you mature, you grow more in tune with what you love about your life and what doesn’t feel right. And with that knowledge, can come change—big change. Forget 40, 50 and 60 for a second: midlife isn’t a number, says therapist Jett Psaris. It can sometimes mean the onset of the feeling that something isn’t working anymore. Whether it’s picking up the pieces after health issues, job loss, a marriage breakdown or retirement, Psaris admits recovering from a seismic shift can be overwhelming. But the silver lining for those who face their feelings? It clears the way for deep change like nothing else can.
2 Take a chance and seize every life curveball
Believe it or not, but for some people trying to pinpoint a passion can actually do more harm than good. Yes, really. The reason? A rigid idea of your passion may not actually translate into something you enjoy doing in real life, says social entrepreneur Marc Freedman. So, where does that leave you? Experimenting! Your mission is easy: have a go at something you think you might like, ask whether you really do, retool, and repeat. Stuck? Feeling unsure is normal. Simply grab an opportunity that’s barrelling past—even if you don’t identify it as a passion, it will get you moving, and you never know where it might lead.
3 Challenge yourself by embracing your fears
Ever daydream about taking up a shiny new interest that’s teetering outside your comfort zone? You’re far from alone. Around midlife, many people are seized by a new interest that’s not just unexpected, it’s completely out of character, says Psaris. The shy may take up public speaking, or those with two left feet might take up a salsa class (and dance like no-one’s watching!). Often, these interests arise from serendipity—a chance encounter that turns into an obsession. Whichever way it happens, it feels amazing. Jazz class, anyone?
4 Search your past for answers
Look more deeply at a dramatic reinvention, says Freedman, and what you’ll often find is a homecoming. So, you might use a second and third career transformation to return to interests that were strong, but passed over at the time for something more practical. Maybe you dreamed about penning the great Australian novel, but opted for becoming a teacher. Or perhaps you imagined yourself as a successful businesswoman, but completed an accounting degree as a safety net. Though these interests may lie dormant for years, they often remain vital and strong—and ready for rediscovery later in life. Ask yourself what
you used to dream about doing... then do it!
5 Play the long game—and win
Think you’re “too old” for a career change? Push that thought aside—the average life expectancy of an Australian woman today is 84, up from 51 in the late 1800s. Age isn’t a factor: to be a successful self-reinventor, understand that you have time, as long as you’re willing to be a beginner all over again. It’s a small price to pay for happiness. Four years ago, Carol Haffke quit her stressful job as a fundraising executive, launched her own shoe shop in Brisbane and hasn’t looked back. “I’ve gone from wearing corporate suits to flowing kaftans,” the 47-year-old says. “I’m still learning every day, but have never, ever been happier.” Inspired? Then what are you waiting for? Go grab the world with both hands!