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New careers at 40
Terry Pile’s book, “Changing Careers After 40,” co-authored by David Lingle, offers hope to anyone who is looking to make a change in their working life in the perilous years of middle age.
Pile is an Islander and employment consultant who specializes in helping people find the right careers. The book utilizes a series of case studies about real people who have had to leave their jobs for one of three reasons: first because they were forced to leave, such as in the case of a layoff; second, they needed to leave because of an illness or family situation; and finally, they were compelled to leave to find something that would suit them better.
Islanders would recognize several names in the book, including former Seattle television show host, John Curley, Islander Gail Pettis, who was a dentist, and Jean Godden, a former newspaper woman who is now a Seattle city council member.
The book shows how the individuals moved through the process of losing a job to finding a new one, with some taking a transitional job to make end’s meet, finding education or training and making the connections with people to help make it happen.
Each had to go through roughly four stages in the transition. A grieving process, a period of confusion, making a positive environment and, finally, taking risks.
One of the important points that the authors make in their book is the need for individuals to create a positive environment for themselves through a network of friends or a support group after they come to terms with losing their jobs. One of the people in the book, Marilyn, made a concerted effort to just say no to the things that brought her down.
People then have to find a synergy to their situation and a way to be open to change, Pile said. Most had to also make the change by taking risks, but they were calculated risks.
Yet the biggest factor, Pile said, was the importance of being open to change.
“The book is about being open to opportunities. Many think, ‘I can’t do that, or I am too old.’ If you just keep yourself open, opportunities will come your way. Most we spoke to did not claim to have a strategy, but worked to become receptive to ideas that they had not considered before. They put themselves out there to discover new people and new ideas.”
Pile said one of the most important things she learned in interviewing these people is there is a definite time of confusion for many as they moved through the process.
You have to be confused before you find that clarity, the author said.
People are confused in two ways. Some have too many things that appeal to them that they cannot choose a new career. Others either don’t have or can’t find their passion. Many feel like failures if they do not have a passion. Again, it is the need to be open to find their passion, and then a career will come.