Ready for your midlife career switch?

After decades in the same field, people are now abandoning their professions to find new joy at work


By Simona Chiose

Joel Lazarus was a restaurateur for 20 years, but he was always buying, renovating and selling properties on the side.

More than two years ago, the Toronto man’s part-time interest became his full-time vacation. At 42, he took the plunge and became a real estate agent.

Now with a successful track record in his new field, Mr. Lazarus regrets not having made the move sooner. “I’m working as much as before, 90 hours a week. In real estate, you put in similar or more effort as in the restaurant business,” he says.

“But I find this very positive, I’m much happier. Before I was stressed all the time. ”Mr. Lazarus is part of a growing cohort of people who change careers in   midlife, often after decades of working in the same company. Veterans of such switches emphasize the importance of careful planning and putting aside a cushion of savings. But they also claim to have found something that finally makes them happy and gives a sense of meaning that had been craving…

… Mr. Lazarus is fortunate – he always had a strong sense of real estate, where to purchase property, what areas were up and coming. He also brought to his new vocation the quick thinking of the restaurant business. Mr. Lazarus almost made the switch to real estate 10 years earlier, but family persuaded him to stay. This time, he was filled with resolve. He has a year’s salary put away, plus family support, and spent six months taking Ontario Real Estate Association course…

… Once the leap has been made and proven successful, career-switchers often feel that the new job provides a natural fit. Mr. Lazarus says he wishes he had trusted his “gut feeling” 10 years ago.

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