Dear Sam: I have been with my current employer for almost 15 years. For the last 11, I have been a corporate buyer of building products. Since COVID, my position has become 100% remote. Prior to this experience, I managed several businesses. The problem is that I am 50 years old and I do not feel “fulfilled” by my job, although I do love it. Can that possibly make sense?
I want to help people. I always wanted to be an attorney. But by the time I had graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, I could not afford three more years of school. I do not regret that decision because it allowed me to meet my wife—at a past employer—and we have a 17-year-old son together and will have been married for 22 years in April. I also have leukemia, which is in remission, but I must have medical insurance. My age and medical issue make me fearful of ageism and the need to ask about medical insurance before an offer is tendered.
All that being said, I have no idea what type of positions to look for or target. How do I look for a new position that allows me to make a difference in others’ lives when I have no idea of the type of position I’m looking for? Is it possible to make such a drastic career change this late in my professional career? Any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated. – Anonymous
Dear Anonymous: Thank you so much for writing and sharing your story with me. First of all, how wonderful you are in remission, but of course, I understand the need for health insurance and ensuring an employer’s medical coverage will be adequate for your needs. Additionally, it’s so lovely you met your wife at a former workplace and that you have shared decades; that is what matters in life, after all.
You mentioned you do not feel fulfilled in your career, yet you love your job. Given your situation where you require a certain caliber of health insurance and are concerned about changing careers, I wonder why you are not seeking “fulfillment” through other avenues beyond your 9 to 5. While I certainly encourage people to take chances and make moves that create lasting change in their lives, with the complication of requiring specific medical coverage for your preexisting condition, you will need to weigh the risks differently than some others.
Have you begun looking at opportunities within your community or other areas of interest where your focus could be helping others? Given you work remotely 100% of the time and you do love your job, could you not seek the connections you feel you are missing in alternative ways? I am assuming you may have some flexibility to engage in something outside of your day-to-day professional activities. Sometimes making a job change isn’t the right move; instead, you could begin volunteering in a capacity where you could feel as if you were supporting others while achieving the fulfillment you are seeking. You mentioned you had always wanted to be an attorney, so are there any opportunities to volunteer at a local pro bono legal clinic in a non-attorney capacity? I am sure there are countless ways in which you could engage in volunteer positions centered around helping others that would allow you the security of maintaining your health coverage, continue to ensure you love your daily work, and also secure the fulfillment you seek through meaningful people-centered volunteerism. I wish you continued health and happiness, both professionally and personally.