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  • Contemplating a Midlife Career Change? 5 Books for Your Review

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    Are you contemplating a midlife career change?

    If so, you’re probably a little scared.

    Changing jobs, at any age, is a big deal, but… changing careers? That’s a new level of scary.

    If you’re to the point where you’re considering such a dramatic move, I don’t have to tell you that it’s not an overnight process. If you make a move at this stage in the game, you’re ready for it to be the right move. You’re ready to make the switch to something that you can really see yourself doing for the rest of your career.

    So, let’s agree: you need to put some time and thought into this one.

    One of the best things that you can do at the onset of this evaluation process is to first get yourself into the right mindset. Get some perspective on what’s at stake here, why you want to make a change, and how to make sure that you get yourself moving on the right career path this time.

    If you’re a reader, have I got a gold mine of books for you!

    I’m often asked what books I would recommend for people considering a midlife career change. I’ve looked through my library and settled on 5 of the top books that I would suggest. A few of them are more likely to be found in the Personal Growth or Inspirational section of the bookstore, rather than in the Career section, but I think that the material in these books is well-suited to the mindset that many have during midlife. They’re not so much “how-to-get-a-job” books as they are “how – and why– to- make -a- significant- change- in -your- (work-) life ” books. Here they are, in no particular order:

    No More Mondays by Dan Miller: This is one of my favorite “what should I do with my life?” career books. Dan Miller tells us that we are each gifted with unique skills and abilities, personalities, and areas of interest and passion. Finding the intersection of all of those areas is they key to discovering our dream careers. What I really love about this book are the questions that Dan poses… that demand answers. This is a very participatory book. For this book to have the maximum impact for you, I highly suggest keeping a notebook next to you while you read it. If he poses a question, write the question down and ANSWER IT! If you don’t have a good answer for it at the moment, come back to it later. Forcing yourself to answer the questions, in writing, that Dan poses, will help you to clarify your own swirling thoughts in black and white. When you take the time to review your anwers, you may be surprised at some of the “trends” in your thoughts and how much clearer the direction that you need to go may be. (The “updated” version of this book is called 48 Days to the Work You Love, but… I prefer the original! It’s just as relevant, and you can save a few bucks by buying the original. If it’s not available though… 48 Days will work, too!)

    What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles: This book has been around forever, but I love that it is continually being updated so that its content is completely relevant today. This book is a good combination of inspriration and execution. Bolles makes sure that we’re in the right mindset for career change by first focusing on ourselves before we get too concerned with stalking the job boards and flooding the market with our resumes. He discusses the self inventory that is necessary above and before all else. The foundation must be established correctly before the job hunt begins. He provides many questions and exercises (again – you actually have to do them for them to be impactful), and then he moves on to discuss actual job hunt strategies and tactics.

    The Success Principles by Jack Canfield: Yep, one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul guys is the author of this book. This is another one that helps us redefine our concept of “success.” Success is something that each person needs to define for his own life, by no one else’e standards than his own. This is another great one to make you think about what your purpose is in life, how your skills and passions work together in helping you define and fulfill that purpose, and just how you’re going to get from Point A to Point B in achieving your goals. As you’d expect from Canfield, he’s written the book very warmly and personally, and you’ll feel his encouragement for your life in every chapter.

    Better Than Good by Zig Ziglar: If you’ve never read anything by Zig Ziglar, you’re in for a treat. You just want to hug the man right through the pages of the book. Zig is funny, inspirational, and highly insightful in this book. Again, we’ll see some of same themes as we’ve seen in the other books – living (and working) with genuine passion, striving for peak performance, and fulfilling our God-given purposes in this life. Zig has been successful by anyone’s standards with his life and work, and he’s done it by being the most genuine person he can be. As someone who unlocked the key to happiness in the service of others, he urges us to look inside and see how our passions and skills can best be used to serve those around us. As the title of the book says, he challenges us to live the “better than good” life.

    The Hole in our Gospel by Rich Stearns: And there we made the jump. From the career section to way across the store. Read this one for some serious perspective on success and the role you were meant to play in your life. This one is written by Rich Stearns, the CEO of international relief ministry World Vision. Rich was a highly “successful” corporate executive by anyone’s standards before he made the decision to stop selling luxury china (as CEO of Lenox Corp) and start lobbying to put food in the mouths of hungry children who probably didn’t have plates, much less a table, to even put food on. This book highights the difference we can all make when we align our work with our passions and a worthwhile cause. It’s not some kind of recruiting tool to get you to join World Vision; it just makes you think “What if all of us lived up to our fullest potential? What kind of difference would that make?” It’s the kind of book that makes you think about the really big picture and the important roles that each of us can play with the lives that we have been given.

    I know you’re busy, with working and contemplating a midlife career change and all, so I’m holding my list to five books that I think will get your mind working in the ways that it needs to in order to consider a change of this nature. But if you’ve got time on your hands, and you blow through all of these books, give me a shout. I’ve got others that I’m chomping at the bit to recommend, too! If any of these are helpful to you, I’d love to hear from you! Email me at and let me know what you thought.

    LEGEND Talent Management helps both individuals and corporations to ensure that the RIGHT people are in the RIGHT jobs at the RIGHT companies. If you are an individual considering a midlife career change, please contact us at Our services include Career Assessments, which can help you identify the types of work that are a natural fit for your abilities, interests, and personality, as well as Career Coaching to help navigate the transition.