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Published on May 20, 2019

How to Swiftly Make a Midlife Career Change

How to Swiftly Make a Midlife Career Change

You wonder how they did it… How did your friend, a librarian at your public library, snag the fabulous marketing job at a digital ad agency? And how did the TV producer you’re acquainted with just become the prestigious publisher of an online parenting magazine? While you were watching “Game of Thrones,” how did so many of your peers manage to make a midlife career change that landed them in exciting new jobs?

One thing your friends probably didn’t do: listen to the naysayers. There will always be some well-meaning family member or acquaintance who will counsel you against any sort of career change, saying it’s too big a risk.

Aren’t your mid-30’s to early 50’s meant to be your optimal earning years where you advance up the ladder in your current field, this person may argue. Why would you want to sacrifice spectacular earnings for the paltry paycheck you will likely earn when you change careers?

Because maybe it’s not all about money. Maybe you’ve decided that your chosen career path doesn’t have the allure it once had. Or maybe the change you’re after is about money!

You realize that you’ve already reached the pinnacle of your earning potential at a figure well short of your original goal. Instead of being held back by this fact, it forces you to really examine your long-term career trajectory.

Below, find your 5-Point Plan for how to swiftly make a midlife career change.

1. Allow Yourself the Luxury to Dream Big

Now that the idea has taken hold, what is your next step? You may have to reckon with financial responsibilities such as a home mortgage, a car payment, and a family to support, so making a rash move isn’t in your best interest. Still, give yourself the luxury of dreaming big.

Give some thought to what your ideal career looks like:

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What’s your perfect job title? What responsibilities will make up your workday? What qualities would make for an outstanding boss and great colleagues?

Make a list, and refer back to it as you consider new opportunities.

2. Do Your Due Diligence on Your Midlife Career Change

Next, do your homework. Understand the fundamentals of your dream job so there won’t be any unwelcome surprises later.

Find out whether this occupation offers a respectable starting salary and is in a growth cycle. Explore any additional educational requirements and available programs.

In this investigative stage, take an inventory of all the hard and soft job skills you have to offer. You probably have more transferable skills than you realize.

For example, if you’ve been teaching high school science but want to venture into the medical research field, your classroom experience may have more crossover potential than you first thought.

A scientist working in a medical university lab, for instance, may oversee undergraduates helping to carry out the research. Similarly, strong communications skills honed from teaching classes may make you a whiz at presenting research findings.

3. Think of Yourself as a Matchmaker

Look at job postings for your dream position — and for a tier or two below it if you’ll need to work your way up. Consider how to adapt your abilities to the job requirements.

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Think of yourself as a professional matchmaker, creating a match between yourself and your potential employer. Pinpoint and promote those traits that make you most desirable, and know how to put your best attributes forward.

Employers will be attracted to your technical expertise, but also to your people skills — the soft skills that make you a good communicator, a reliable team player, and a value-driven employee.

Suppose that you’re applying for a financial analyst or financial planner position. Hopefully you’ve earned a bachelor’s degree in a major that qualifies you, such as business or economics. Then showcase your accounting skills, analytical acuity, and dexterity with a spreadsheet. Many firms have their own software, so you’ll want to plug your overall knowledge of technology along with your talent for navigating computer platforms.

Beyond proving that you possess these hard skills, you’ll shine if you can also highlight two or three people skills. Provide relatable examples. Strong verbal communication and unwavering integrity are two skills with particular relevance to careers in finance.

Beyond that, it’s always a good idea to remember that every job involves interacting with people. People skills are always in demand.

Ideally, you will perfectly match your skills with the skills needed in the job of your dreams. For those skills that you already possess, be sure to describe them in the exact way they’re stated on a job posting. As for the skills you don’t possess, put a plan in place to acquire them.

4. Carve out a Path for Mastering New Skills

The radically changing nature of most industries today can actually work in your favor. Even veteran workers in professions such as consumer electronics, retail and service industries, to name a few, need to re-educate themselves to stay on top of the changing way business is conducted in today’s technological world.

Still, before you spend the time and money on any program, check out reviews by previous students, ask colleagues for recommendations, and carefully read the course descriptions.

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Here’re some options for you to master new skills:

Online Courses

If you’re a self-starter who is pressed for time, online courses may be the easiest way to pick up needed skills for the job you’re after. Online courses run the gamut from providing a quick 2 to 3 hour introduction to a potential career path to offering specific training. Some online programs even reward you with a full-blown degree from a prestigious university.

Do you dream of wading into the cyber security field? Today you can earn a Bachelor of Science in Security and Risk Analysis from Penn State completely online! You’ll need to finish coursework by the stated deadlines, but be able to do the work in the timeslots most available to your schedule.

Continuing Education Courses

Another route to acquiring new skills for a midlife career change is to take continuing education courses at a local university or community college. Weekly, in-person classes will allow you to keep your day job.

Consider discussing your goals with your boss. Some companies encourage continuous learning. Home Depot, for example, offers employees up to $5,000 toward approved courses. Ask your supervisor whether your company has an educational assistance program. You will save your hard-earned money, and your employer will be investing in a very important asset: You.

Career Training Programs

Many high-skilled, high-paying careers require a specialized industry certification. Moreover, today’s career training programs are a far cry from the vocational education centers of the past. They’re now driven by technology and often taught by instructors working in the field. These programs are career-focused and can be completed faster than traditional community college and four-year college programs. It’s often possible to set up a class schedule that includes online, evening, or weekend classes.

Academic Degree Programs

If you decide to go all-in and enroll in an academic degree program (MBA, MFA or other), discuss low-residency options with your academic counselor that will allow you to earn the degree while being flexible about hours spent inside a classroom. Fellowship programs, while intensely competitive, can fully fund a master’s degree in some fields.

5. Attract Notice Through Smart Networking

Along with gaining requisite skills, you’ll need to ramp up a robust networking campaign. Seventy to eighty percent of jobs never reach the open market in an online listing. Why? Because the jobs are filled before they go public.

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When you network, which, broadly speaking, means reaching out to employers and employees in the field of your dreams, you increase your chances of hearing about a job long before it hits the open market.

Smart networking means taking a two-pronged approach:

First, target your friends, acquaintances, and industry connections who may be able to give you a foothold for making a contact inside a particular firm. While it may be considered old-fashioned to tap your organically grown network, it still comes with the best odds of success.

Make a point of meeting face-to-face with anyone who can offer you a lead or provide a reference. You never know what kind of opportunity will unfold from these offline connections. For a midlife career change, face to face networking is a great strategy to pursue.

But don’t stop there. Employ social media, which will exponentially increase your networking opportunities. Today, first impressions are mostly made in cyberspace. Making a strong online impression through a carefully curated social media profile may attract hiring managers and recruiters to you.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, every good match comes down to a “speed date.”

Throughout your career transition, you’ll be working to effectively make the case that your skills are the skills that your dream company needs.

Just like speed dating, where strangers make snap decisions on your “date-ability,” employers will decide your hire-ability in less time than it takes to eat lunch. With both, first impressions are key.

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Featured photo credit: Brendan Church via unsplash.com

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Vicky Oliver

Author of 6 best-selling books on job-hunting and job interview questions, business etiquette, frugalista style, advertising, and office politics.

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Last Updated on November 20, 2019

How to Measure a Goal? (With Examples of Measurable Goals)

How to Measure a Goal? (With Examples of Measurable Goals)

Everyone sets goals. Whether they are daily goals like completing a project, personal aspirations like traveling the world, or even workplace targets, setting a goal isn’t enough to get you over the line unfortunately. This is why only eight percent of people achieve their goals.[1]

So how do the high achievers do it?

By setting measurable goals, keep track of them and progress towards these goals.

To help you out, I’ve put together a simple guide on measuring goals. I’ll show you a SMART framework you can use to create measurable goals, and how you can track its progress.

To begin, let me introduce you to the SMART acronym.

What Is a Measurable SMART Goal?

SMART stands for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. They help set clear intentions, this way, you can continue staying on course.

When you’re writing a SMART Goal, you need to work through each of the terms in the acronym to ensure it’s realistic and achievable.

It’ll help you set specific and challenging goals that eliminate and vagueness and guesswork. It’ll also have a clear deadline so you know when you need to complete it by.

Here’s what SMART stand for:

Specific

Your goals need to be specific. Without specificity, your goal will feel much harder to complete and stick to.

They should also have a specific outcome. Without the outcome, it will be hard to focus and stay on task with your goals.

I can’t stress this enough. In fact, two researchers Edwin Locke and Gary Latham, found that when people set specific yet challenging goals, it led to increased performance 90 percent of the time.[2]

Here’s an example of a specific goal:

Increase sales by 10% in 90 days. 

Measurable

You need to be able to measure these goals.

Examining a key metric and quantifying your goals will help track your progress. It will also identify the mark at which you’ve completed your task.

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Measurable can mean many different things, but generally speaking, you want to be able to objectively measure success with a goal.

Whether it’s via analytical data, performance measures, or direct revenue, ensure your goal is quantifiable.

Achievable

Why do you want to reach this goal? Is it important for you or your organization?

Once you identify the key benefit, add that into your goal, so it helps your team members understand the importance of the goal and how it contributes to the bigger picture.

Relevant

Why do you want to reach this goal? Is it important for you or your organization?

Once you identify the key benefit, add that into your goal so it helps your team members understand the importance of the goal and how it contributes to the bigger picture.

Timely

This is one of my favorite parts of SMART goals….setting the deadline.

The timeframe will create a sense of urgency. It functions as a healthy tension that will springboard you to action.

Examples of Measurable Goals

Now that we know what a SMART goal is, it’s time to help you make your own SMART goal.

Let’s start with the first step: specificity.

Specific

A specific goal should identify:

  • What’s the project or task at hand?
  • Who’s responsible for the task? If you’re breaking the task down, who is responsible for each section?
  • What steps do you need to do to reach your goal?

Here’s a bad example:I want to have a better job.

This example is poor because it’s not specific enough. Sure, it’s specific to your work, but it doesn’t explain whether you want a promotion, a raise, a career change, etc.

What about your current job do you want to improve? Do you want to change companies? Or are you striving for more work-life balance? What does “better” really mean?

Let’s transform this into a good example.

I want to find a new role at a Fortune 500 company that improves my current salary and work-life balance.

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If you’re not too sure what the specific outcome should be, you can use mindmaps to brainstorm all the possible options. Then choose a few or one from the mindmap.

With the example above, to become a better growth marketer, I have to explore different learning options like online courses, blogs, books, or in-person courses before I made a decision.

Measurable

Goals need to be measurable in a way where you can present tangible, concrete evidence. You should be able to identify what you experience when reaching that goal.

Ideally, you should go for a metric or quantity as quantifying goals makes it easier to track.

Here’s a bad example:

I will get a promotion at work for improving quality

Here’s a good example:

I am going to land a promotion to senior VP by improving my work quality. When I say work quality, I will measure this by projects completed, revenue earned, and success factors important to my superiors.

If you’re having difficulty measuring your goals, you can use a goal tracking app. They’re a great way to measure your progress, especially if it’s time-based.

In addition, I love to use the following strategy to keep myself accountable and ensure I’m hitting goals:

Reminder emails.

I schedule emails to myself asking for measurable data on my goals, and even CC others to hold me accountable.

For example, if you work with a team, CC them on your email to keep yourself honest and on-track.

Here are five methods you can use to measure your progress towards the goal:

  1. Keep a record – Have you recorded all your actions?
  2. Assess your numbers/evidence – Are you breaking your commitments?
  3. Create a checklist – Can you simplify your tasks?
  4. Stay on course – Are you moving forward with your plan smoothly?
  5. Rate your progress – Can you do better?

Achievable

When it comes to being able to achieve your goals, you should stick to Pareto’s principle. If you’re not too sure what it is, it’s the 80/20 rule.

Don’t just attack and go for everything at once! Pick things that give you the most results. Then, work on the next objective or goal once you’ve completed your first ones.

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Here’s a bad example:

To get more work-life balance, I will examine all factors of my work and how to trim down the time I spend on them.

Here’s a good example:

This week I will record my time spent on projects to analyze the amount of revenue or success they generate. Projects that fall short of production will get less time and resources than others. 

Relevant

It’s always important to examine your goal to ensure it’s relevant and realistic to what you’re doing.

This is where the bigger picture comes in.

Here’s a bad example:

I want to be promoted to CMO because I need more responsibility.

In this case, it’ll be unlikely for you to receive a promotion if the purpose and reason behind your goals are not strong.

Here’s a good example:

I want to be promoted to CMO because I enjoy digital marketing. I’m currently excelling in X, Y, and Z digital marketing practices, and I believe that via a promotion I can further grow the business via X, Y and Z.

The why will help you grind out in moments when you just want to throw in the towel, and also provide more purpose for your goals.

Timely

And…finally we’ve hit the deadline.

Having a due date helps your team set micro goals and milestones towards the goal.

That way, you can plan workload throughout your days, weeks, and months to ensure that your team won’t be racing against the clock.

Let’s start with a bad example:

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I’m going to land a new promotion this summer.

Now, let’s turn this into a great example:

Within the next month I will increase marketing revenue by XX%. Then, within three months I will expand the digital team, hire two new employees and scale it. Within five months I will leverage this success into a new role.

So that’s how you create a measurable goal.

Here’s a summary of the example above in the order of its acronyms.

Overall Goal: I want to transition into a new role with a reputable company.

  • S: I want to find a new role at a Fortune 500 company that improves my current salary and work-life balance.
  • M: I am going to land a promotion to senior VP by improving my work quality. When I say work quality, I will measure this by projects completed, revenue earned, and success factors important to my superiors.
  • A: This week I will record my time spent on projects to analyze the amount of revenue or success they generate. Projects that fall short of production will get less time and resources than others.
  • R: I want to be promoted to CMO because I enjoy digital marketing. I’m currently excelling in X, Y, and Z digital marketing practices, and I believe that via a promotion I can further grow the business via X, Y and Z.
  • T: Within the next month I will increase marketing revenue by XX%. Then, within three months I will expand the digital team, hire two new employees and scale it. Within five months I will leverage this success into a new role.

But before we finish off, I want to leave you with a note:

If you want to ensure you reach your goals, make sure you’re accountable. Ensure that you will stick by the goal and deliver the results that you want. Because sometimes, the goal might not just be for you. It could be goals for your clients, customers, and even loved ones.

For example:

Here, Housecall Pro promises customers that they grow up to 30% in one year.

By placing that statement on their landing page, they’re keeping themselves and their goals accountable to their customers.

For personal goals, tell your friends and family.

For professional goals, you can tell your peers, colleagues, and even your clients (once you’re ready).

Bottom Line

So to wrap things up, if you want to measure a goal, be SMART about it.

Start with a specific outcome in mind; make sure it’s measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely to your existing schedule.

While 92 percent of people fail to reach their goals, you can be the exception.

Reach your goals by setting targets and objectives together.

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Featured photo credit: Green Chameleon via unsplash.com

Reference

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