Pegotty Cooper, FASAE, is a certified coach at Career Strategy Roadmap, working exclusively with association executives.
You may be well into your career, but there's still room to explore and discover opportunities to transition to something new. These three tips will get you started.
Let's say you're 50 or so. You've done a good job of developing your career, becoming a credible manager and leader, and getting results. Then, something makes you realize that you don't want to spend the rest of your life doing what you're doing.
But, then, the practical side of your brain pipes in and asks, "How will I ever find another job that has all the benefits I have now and pays the same or better?" And you start rationalizing why it might be better to just hang in there until retirement.
I assure you there's a way to make a big transition now. Yes, it will take work and determination, but these three tips will help you get it done.
Don't do it alone. Now is the time to stop thinking you can just figure it out on your own. Connect with others who can reflect back to you what your strengths are, share ideas and insights to explore, and encourage you to pursue something you may know nothing about.
Understand that it will take longer than you think. The process of transition is not a straight line between point A and point B. In the middle, between where you are now and where you will start the next chapter, is the world of exploration and discovery—a million opportunities to get out of your comfort zone and try different ways of applying your strengths.
Don't expect one "right" answer. Before you decide what's next, know what your greatest aptitude is so that you exercise it no matter what work you engage in. If you don't use your best strength, you'll be left feeling that something is missing. That's no way to lead your life or your career.
[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "What's Next?"]