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Making that big career change at midlife

Posted by BJ Roche  June 13, 2012 04:05 PM

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Friends and readers of much-loved Springfield Republican columnist Tommy Shea were shocked recently to read that he was leaving western Mass. this summer for a job on the foreign desk at The National, a daily English-language paper based in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.

"It's an adventure," says Shea, who will be 57 next month. "It's a startup newspaper in a time when so many newspapers are dying ... it just seems like a fun, challenging time. I don't see any downside to it."

If there's a motto for your 50s, it should probably be, "If not now, when?"

Shea's doing what a lot of us think about: taking a chance and making a change before the show is over. For most of us it's not easy, but there's an emerging cottage industry out there helping baby boomers figure out the next stage of their work lives, whether that be a career change or entrepreneurship.

Encore Careers, published by Civic Ventures, a San Francisco-based think tank, offers research and resources on second careers and life changes; Encore also sponsors The Purpose Prize, an annual award that invests in "people over 60 who are changing the world."

Marci Alboher wrote the very informative Shifting Careers blog at nytimes.com (until she got laid off), but her site features some of her best posts, many of which might be useful if you're thinking about a career change.

Big changes take time, planning, and, often enough, money, writer Glenn Ruffenach points out in this this Smart Money piece.

But they all start with the question of "what if?" and "why not?" Shea says he got his bit of inspiration from Leo Moran, a singer in one of his favorite bands, The Saw Doctors.

"One time I was the middle man in giving advice to someone and Leo said, 'I'm sure you'll be a long time dead,' " he says. "I think of that often, about taking chances. We all think we're promised endless tomorrows and we're not."

Springfield, Mass. to Abu Dhabi is a big move. What's a move that you've made lately, and what did you learn? Share it on the Fiftyshift Facebook page.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

BJ Roche is a writer and teacher who lives in Western Massachusetts. She’s a senior lecturer in the Journalism Program at UMass Amherst, where she teaches writing, new media and More »

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