Career Change After Forty? Give Your Friends a Encouraging Push

“There are high spots in all our lives,” wrote George Matthew Adams, “and most of them come about through encouragement from someone else. Encouragement is like oxygen for the soul.”

With recent unemployment figures registering at the highest jobless rate in nearly five years, there are sure to be more and more souls gasping for air in self defeat. Many people now are faced with making a career change after forty. How can we help our friends and family members avoid gloomily succumbing to the depression of temporary joblessness and uncertainty?

A reader of this very newsletter relays the following true story. “A friend mine who is a high-level corporate tech writer was laid off over a month ago and still can’t find a job. The staff jobs he would usually apply for have dried up at the big corporations, Internet start-ups with similar positions have shut down and, as a result, the few contracting positions that remain have more applicants than they ever did before. Here is someone who had to beat the job offers off with a stick as little as 9 months ago and now, maybe for the first time in his life, he has to face…Competition!”

As a coach, who sees many clients making a career change after forty, I see the leaders, parents, teachers and friends knowing how to create an environment that brings out the best in others. For example, take into the consideration the success of Jean Nidetch, founder of Weight Watchers.

When asked how she had been able to help so many members around the world, Nidetch shared how she began her passion for encouraging people as a teenager. Often while walking through the park she would encounter mothers chatting while their toddlers sat on swings with no one to push them. “I’d give them a push,” she said. “And you know what happens when you push a kid on a swing? Pretty soon he’s pumping doing it himself. That’s what my role in life is-I’m there to give others a push.”

Here’s a few suggestions to help you initiate a similar “OPERATION PUSH” for any present or past colleague who needs a strong dose of encouragement right now. Begin each day by asking yourself these three questions:

  1. What can I do today to express faith in people?
  2. How can I foster courage in people to do their best?
  3. What specific actions can I take to recognize people for who they are and what they can achieve?

When we eliminate unrealistic expectations, allow for failure without punishment and show appreciation for people’s efforts, a strong foundation is laid for them to excel even in the most difficult of circumstances. Many individuals have gone further in their life than they ever dreamed just because someone else told them they believed they could.

Whoever you are, wherever you might be, there are talents to be uncovered in those around you. I encourage you to give encouragement to the talents you see in others. Compliment them, assure them and stimulate them to make the best possible use of their unemployment to achieve the best potential use of their abilities.

In his book Perceiving, Behaving and Becoming, Carl Rogers offers the following truth, “The degree to which I can create relationships which facilitate the growth of others as separate persons is a measure of the growth I have achieved in myself.”

Relationships provide a marvelous opportunity to give others a push, help them grow, provide encouragement and enhance the quality of their lives. And, in return, when the chips are down for us we will experience the same.