Our satisfaction – or lack thereof – with work has a profound influence on the rest of our lives. The stress and dread that accompany a bad job can lead to poor mental and physical health. No wonder most people want more than a paycheck: They also want a satisfying and enjoyable career.
So why can it be so hard to find one? For people over 50, dissatisfaction may have more to do with doing the same thing for so long rather than not loving it to start with. Whether boredom has set in or you’re still searching for your dream career, the good news is it’s within your power to increase career satisfaction after 50. Find out how with these top tips.
Find a New Challenge
It’s easy to fall into a work rut at any age, but in the later phase of your career, learning a new skill won’t just hold your interest. It will also help keep your mind sharp. If you find yourself with any slack in your schedule, take on something you’ve never done before.
That could mean offering your assistance to co-workers, asking your supervisor for a new project or revamping an existing responsibility. For example, if you work in customer service you could research the latest methods of gauging customer satisfaction. In any field, look for a new app or computer program to improve one aspect of your job.
Share Your Wisdom
As an experienced professional in your field, you’ve racked up a treasure trove of wisdom over the years. What could be more satisfying than putting your expertise to the good use of helping others? If you’re looking for a long-term commitment, volunteer to mentor newer employees in your department. Even the most confident millennial needs a little help now and then.
If a one-time event is more your speed, you could attend conferences and networking events whenever you have the time. For example, help older job seekers and even pick up a few tips yourself at the upcoming Job Action Day 2015. Of course, there are many ways to give back outside your field, but attending professional development events is a good way to revive your passion for what you do.
Continue Your Education
It’s never too late to go back to school. If your company offers tuition reimbursement, you might explore the promotions an advanced degree could open up for you. Even if you don’t complete the whole program, adding graduate classes to your resume is a great way to stand out, and it can also give you new ideas for your current position.
Employees who aren’t eligible for tuition remission can still learn for free by signing up for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Taught by masters in their fields from the world’s best universities, MOOCs are a low-stakes way to learn more about a hobby or interest, or to brush up on the latest practices in your career. While you won’t earn college credit toward a degree, you can still put them on your resume and, best of all, bask in the glow of accomplishment.
Don’t Be Afraid to Switch Jobs
Conventional wisdom tells us times are tough for workers over 50. Subject to age discrimination and holding higher salaries, older workers are often first to be let go and last to be hired. That means you’d be crazy to switch jobs no matter how stagnant or otherwise awful your current one is, right?
Wrong. Research shows that choosing against your gut can often lead to better outcomes. The problem is, most of us would rather be unhappy in a familiar way than experience the bitterness of regret. If you’re not satisfied in your present role, the best way to improve your career satisfaction is to hit the job boards. No matter what happens, it never hurts to look.
Remember What Your Salary Can Buy
The average retirement age is on the rise, according to a recent Gallup poll. It’s now 62, and the age most Americans expect to retire is even higher, at 66. So if you’re more than a little eager to get on with your post-work life, take some comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Then think about all the things your paycheck can buy you that might disappear once you’re budgeting on a fixed income.
Waiting for retirement to travel? Use your vacation days to spend a week in Europe now. Feel bad you can’t watch your grandkids while your children work? Help out by starting or contributing to a college fund. Always wanted to have a nice car? Now’s the time to treat yourself to a splurge – you’ll feel a lot more frugal with Social Security checks. Income always has the potential to increase, whereas retirement savings are a diminishing asset, so don’t put off the life you want. Even if retirement is still years away, there are ways to realize your dreams now.
Now that you know how to increase your happiness at work, you don’t have to wish the days away until retirement. Instead you can be present for all the good stuff that’s happening right now.