50 Years Old – A Critical Turning Point at Work


WASHINGTON, January 3, 2014 – This week’s prescription:  Don’t Quit.

Many friends of mine have turned 50 years old, and since then have become confused about their work and their future.  Many feel like they are bored and want to try something new.  They have plenty of energy so they do not want to retire, but they do not want to continue to do the exact same job over and over again.  They feel as if they have nothing new to learn.

Comparing notes, they each have two or three children that are still in need of parental financial aid – college and rent, mainly.  Some are in the middle of a divorce settlement which is usually costly.  Some have a vacation home in addition to their main home.  Some have many other financial obligations that prohibit quitting their jobs.

What to do?  Nothing rash is the short answer.  The feelings do not pass, but leaving your job quickly is not the right solution.

Investigate new options:  consulting work, other types of side jobs, performing your hobby for money (e.g., fixing cars, knitting, artistry, writing) as methods to supplement your current work.  If this does not appeal to you, look into new assignments at work.  These may include projects that require more complex and broader strategic thinking, new tasks, and ways to build new relationships by meeting new people or developing new customers.  Perhaps you want less social interaction at work – then perform more technical work or computer-related work if possible.

The term for finding new interest in your job is job enrichment.  However, as workers turn 50, they need to enrich their entire lives by adding in new tasks and new relationships at work and at play.

Quitting your job leaves you without the money you need to support your lifestyle and expand your horizons.  It leaves you more bored than you may be now.

Years ago, turning 50 was the time at which most employees started to think about retirement.  Those days are long gone.  Fifty-year-olds are energetic and smart.  You need another ten years of incrementally interesting activities before you start thinking about true retirement.

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Dr. Cassi Fields has provided expert opinion on career and workplace issues for nationally recognized media outlets including Forbes, TheStreet TV, MSNBC.com, FOX News Live, US News & World Report, Recruiter.com, WUSA9, News Channel 8, HR.com, and more. Dr. Fields, who received her Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from George Washington University, lives in Maryland and Florida with her husband and two children.