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Care For A Career Change-Up? These Stories Are Proof It's Never Too Late

Andrew Baker
Getty Images/Ikon Images

Midlife may be a good time to think about shifting your career.

That may run counter to the notion that, after building your career for several decades, you're at your peak. But according to Gallup, only a third of seasoned employees say they're engaged in their careers.

"You wake up one day and you say, 'I have all these things, what now?' Either you feel despair or boredom or loss, because you realize you're not as happy as you thought you'd be," says Beverly Jones, a career coach in Washington, D.C., in a Morning Edition piece by former NPR reporter Barbara Bradley Hagerty. The piece is part of her exploration of midlife on NPR and in her new book, Life Reimagined.

Some hit a midlife career rut, others lose their jobs in their middle years — and some, like Hagerty herself, who reexamined her career as a radio reporter after developing chronic pain in her vocal chords, have other reasons for rethinking their careers in their 40s and 50s. Career experts, Hagerty says, say when you do start this process, you should change your career within the boundaries of your natural talents, skills and personality — and they caution against "fantasies of reinvention."

NPR wants to know more about your midlife career shifts, so we put the question to Facebook, and the response was overwhelming, with more than 1,000 posts.

(Posts have been edited for spelling.)

Here are a few posts:

Phyllis Rittner

After 28 years at a law firm where I felt alienated and invisible, I left to pursue the social service work I did shortly after college. Now I work with seniors, teaching a seated dance program and tai chi. If you are miserable or even mildly unhappy in your job, start now to develop a plan to find what you'd like to do. A career counselor, research and especially volunteer work will lead you to your dream. Don't give up! Channel your transition fear into excitement. Yes, I make less money, but I'm finally free and that is worth everything!

Rosalind Thompson

Spent 40 years as a Human Resource executive in some really big companies. Never felt super good about it--always chasing the all mighty dollar at the expensive of people. At age 63, my daughter encouraged me to apply to the charter school network where she taught. She was in love with this revolution in education. Not having a clue what I could do for them, I did send my resume and was hired right away. Almost 4 years later I have had 4 different jobs with them, moved 3 times and love everyday.

Paul Pakusch

At age 53 I lost my job after 32 years of working in a TV station control room. I took a job as a school bus driver so I could have summers off with my teacher/wife. I found out I love the job! Who would have thought I'd love driving a big ol' bus with a bunch of screaming kids? Ha ha! Anyways, the bigger success is the business I started for myself as a wedding officiant; marrying people! I took the script-writing-and-reading skills from my years of broadcasting and turned them into something where I could be a part of a major lifetime event for people. I love doing it! It turns out there's a lot of demand for what I am able to offer couples who are getting married outside of a traditional church. I officiated 21 weddings in my first year, and now have close to 30 weddings booked for 2016! Between these two jobs, I hardly feel like I am working and I look forward to what I am doing every day!

Cathy Donnelly

I retired at 50.5 years. My job was not unfulfilling but I know that I was done. 28 years of being a 911 dispatcher takes it toll. I thought I'd stay retired, then I found a job at the airlines. Who couldn't love getting paid to help people travel and people watch? I love my job and my benefits and feel fresh again in the work force. Starting on year five and couldn't be happier. Advice: DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY!

Here's our callout for your midlife career shift stories. Head over to Facebook to keep the conversation going!

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

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