It Is Never Too Late to Land the Job of Your Dreams

Stories of Career Changes After 50

Impowerage, the online magazine for active older adults that I founded to raise money for macular degeneration research, recently ran a writing contest looking for inspiring stories of life after 50. We noticed that many of the entries described career changes and decided to hold a separate voting round for their career-related stories.

Their stories show the diverse range of reasons for later-in-life career changes. Some were forced into a change by the recession while others decided they wanted to spend their next decade or two in jobs they loved.

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Pursuing Their Passions

Gerry HennesseyFor some of the finalists, their later-in-life career changes came after they decided to pursue their passions. One finalist, Gerry Hennessey, made a list of all the things that interested him on his 50th birthday. At the time he was a bored but successful realtor who wanted to learn more about martial arts, movies, and magic. He began checking items off his list. He earned a black belt in the martial art of Akido. Without any experience, he got his first acting role in his mid-fifties and landed several other acting jobs.

Along the way, he went back to school to study psychology and became slightly obsessed with the mind magic of mentalism. He even performed at the convention of International Mentalists and now is a popular entertainer at parties and corporate events.

Cathryn WellnerCathryn Wellner pursued her passions and went after a dream job that involved starting over in a new country with a high cost of living and no nearby friends. The dream job managed to encompass all of Cathryn’s previous careers in education, community development and storytelling. Although she knew that it would require some sacrifices she packed her bags and chose to live an adventure over the safety of her previous career.

Peter Morris thought he had left behind his career in boating when he moved from England to Vancouver, BC. He took a low stress job but soon found himself right back in the boating industry. His career helped him find the love of his life and he is now writing a book about his adventures.

The Recession Forces Career Changes

Christine HenryFor finalist, Christine Henry, her career change came after she was laid off from her dream job during the recession. At 54, she struggled to find another job, especially one to fit her specialized skills in retail visual presentation. She soon realized how much her job contributed to her identity and wrote that she was, “humiliated, discouraged, angry and lost.”

She started taking classes in photography, art and writing to fill her time. She eventually began displaying her art at galleries and began to wonder if she could solve her unemployment problem by starting her own business. After over a year of hard work, she launched Eye Party Arts, a company that offers home decorating, staging, de-cluttering and photography.

Kat CooperWhile not planned, the recession helped Kat Cooper return to her first passion in life. Kat Cooper watched helplessly as budget cuts eliminated the funding for her jobs as a special education assistant, art teacher and substitute teacher. Still paying back earlier school loans, she was unable to go back to school. She was forced to think outside the box. She wondered if she could find a way to make money from her first love of dancing. She started attending a Zumba class and found her calling as a Zumba instructor. She now teaches more than a dozen weekly classes and is considering opening her own studio.

It is inspiring to see how it’s never too late to chase your dreams and reinvent yourself. Visit the Impowerage Magazineto read the rest of the finalists’ stories and vote for your favorite entries. The finalist with the most votes by Friday, June 17th will receive the $500 grand prize.

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