How to Start Over After Losing Your Career (& Be Happier as a Result)

Losing your career

It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.

― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

I felt like puking. I felt like crying. I felt like screaming.

I felt like banging my fists against my head but could only hold them close to my heart.

I had been laid off from my job … for a second time. The pain of losing your career can be unimaginably intense.

Lower-ranking jobs in my industry were replaced by automation or had been outsourced out of the country.

I had lost the crucial re-entry points into the industry in which I had worked for decades.

I hadn’t lost a job … I had experienced the pain of losing a career.

The Humiliating Result of Losing Your Career

Do you know what happens to an unemployed middle-aged man after losing a career? It isn’t pretty.

I stayed indoors because of shame.

I let inbound calls go to voicemail during the daytime.

I wore suits when I did go out, as dressing casually during the daytime was too painful to bear.

I had fixed my entire identity on being a fixture within my industry. I had worked in the finance industry for my entire adult life. And my ego had shriveled into a weird psychological voodoo doll. Why? I was no longer validated with a salary and the security that came from that salary.

In a word, I was devastated.

How Your Career Can Kill Your Dreams

I had never actually aspired to a career in finance. I was going to live an adventure and tell stories. I dreamed of being a writer.

I was counseled to have a backup plan — advice which I accepted. I took a job after graduating from college and one thing led to another. I was always about to try my hand at story-telling when I would receive a promotion and a raise, so I would delay my dream again.

The money was gratifying for someone who had grown up in a lower middle-class family. The satisfaction that I felt from being regularly promoted became addictive. I may not have been doing what I loved but I liked being recognized for my climb in social status.

Yet I paid a high price.

My identity became a secondary consideration behind my corporate identity. My time was not my own. I worked long hours on the job.

I loved the beaches of Southern California. Yet I was forced to live in the suburbs away from the beach because I needed reasonable access to the commercial center of town. That reasonable access was a somewhat typical Los Angeles commute of 1.5 hours … each way.

Why was I devastated? I had measured myself with someone else’s ruler and had come up short. I had not believed in my dream and was paying the price.

How to Take Charge After Losing Your Career

The biggest mistake I have made is to think that my future must be an extension of my past. I am more than the sum of my previous experiences and so are you. One of your vulnerabilities may be that you have no passion for the work you do. You, too, may only be there for the paycheck.

My career recovery came when I began to think of myself as something more than a credit analyst and financier. I had always envied the entrepreneurs that I helped finance, not only for their wealth but also for their freedom. What they had accomplished seemed to be out of my reach for a reason that I could never seem to remember.

My real career recovery started when I accepted that my career in finance was over. Losing your career can sometimes lead to the biggest revelations. I became fully aware of the value that my insights and advice had given to former clients.

This was my chance to step up to being an entrepreneur.

I looked back at the entrepreneurs that I used to envy and realized I could have what they had. My talent for writing led me to marketing. How was I going to be fairly compensated for the value I created?

I created an online marketing business based on the principles of personal development. Now I work from my home office, the shortest commute possible. The crashing sound of waves comes through my window as I build my business serving others who have had experiences similar to mine.

8 Simple Steps to Building Your New, Happier Career

Start with the knowledge that you can start again. I do not know if you have the overwhelming desire necessary to be an entrepreneur. I do know that many sectors of our economy are growing rapidly. You must invest in yourself before you can take advantage of that growth.

You can grow with the sectors that are growing if you are willing to change. Take the following eight steps to build your new, happy career.

1. Relax.

You are dealing with circumstances that you probably resisted like crazy. That means you were focused on keeping what was slowly not working rather than creating a new life for yourself. Being confused as you change is normal, even when you change for the better.

2. Trust in yourself.

You are more than you currently believe you are. What has changed is the world around you. You grew to adapt to a world that no longer exists. Keep in mind that you were able to adapt before what you needed for your old career. That means you can adapt to a new career.

3. Confirm your own value.

You need to do more than think about what you can do about your lost career. You need to change the way you think if you are depressed by your lost career. Reading Possibility Change and other positive writing will start embedding a new, positive image of you within you.

4. Take the time to find out who you truly are.

Have you considered that your misery may be a result of you acting on what you were told to be? Not sure who you are and what you want? Now is the perfect time to find out.

5. Learn skill sets based on who you are and what you want.

You should gain skills that fulfill your burning passions rather than your previous job experiences. Very little in this world can resist the determination of a truly motivated individual. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and John Lennon were all nobodies until they became somebodies on their own terms.

6. Hang out with people that have the same interests as you.

You will accelerate your change to what you want in life when you learn from (and teach) people who are excited by the same things you are. Besides, you will be uplifted when they acknowledge that what you are learning is important.

7. Be a friend and help others first.

Others are experiencing the same emotional devastation as you. You have an opportunity to “pay it forward” when you think of others first. Your success will increase as you help others. Your comprehension of what you are learning will increase. The best way to learn something new is to teach it. The people that you help will also start looking to you as a leader as you help them cut a new pathway through their own confusion.

8. Build your new career with your new friends.

You are a friend learning valuable new skills with the people you hang out with. You are building a new community around your new reality. What better network could you have for building your new career? Continue to exchange knowledge and opportunities with your new friends and your new career will find you.

Maybe you aren’t happy now. That isn’t surprising if you are tied to a way of life that isn’t working for you any longer. You can be surprisingly happier if you are ready to make constructive changes in your life.

Imagine your smiles when you fit in with a new career, a bright future, and new friends who appreciate you for who you are.

You can make it happen, but you must change now.

Are You Ready to Build a Career that You Love?

Ironically, losing my career got me what I always truly wanted. I had always dreamed of being a writer. I had always wanted to live an adventurous life. Well, here I am.

Now I have the time to speak about the values on which a good life can be formed. Those values are important when times are easy. They are crucial when times get rough.

I never thought I could say this on the day I realized I had lost my career.

I am grateful that I had.

The key to recovering after losing your career is realizing you are not your career. It may feel like you have died, but you have not. You were born to love, serve yourself and others, and be grateful for another day in your own adventure of life.

You will find your new life … because you lost your old career.

65 thoughts on “How to Start Over After Losing Your Career (& Be Happier as a Result)”

  1. Dave, I had a similar experience several years ago. Like you, I struggled to find my way to a new life and career. My experience led to the formation of the dedicated to helping men over 50 find and live the life they were created to live. The key to the whole thing is found in step #4, taking the time to find out who your really are. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi, Steve!

      We are not alone in what we have experienced. You have dealt constructively with unexpected and unwanted change around you.

      Of course, we are not alone in with life changing around us. Nor is our generation alone in dealing with career pressures. The American economy has changed dramatically and we are all being forced to change with it.

      I agree that the key is taking the time to know who you are and starting from there. Thank you for testifying that life can be changed for the better in the face of career pressures.

    2. Hi. That sounds good, but my career ended because who I was changed .. and that’s the second time. Each time I thought I was living the dream, what I was born for and then a deep, and this time sinister change occurred and I just can’t see myself doing that work anymore. I’ve spent my life (literally) trying to live consciously and expanding my self awareness, and in the end it led to misery. What happens then? I’ve lost faith in personal development/self awareness and conscious living because it got me nowhere.

      1. Yea, change do break some down while it built others. The result is based on how you see yourself and your purpose and practices. If you have a positive mindset even in face of adversities, the result of your change in life-style, career or whatever would be positive at the end. Also remember that winners never give up, maybe you may have given up along the line while you were still on the process of change and transit to your final destination.
        Keep focused and be courageous not to take a NO for an answer.

  2. Dave,

    Thanks so much for writing this post – and for doing what you do! I spent 23 years in the Royal Air Force and then things changed suddenly.

    I won’t write the full story here but I am on a similar journey. Would love to talk more about it with you! And Steve…..but I haven’t reached 50 yet. I think it’s a huge area and that men are the last to ask for help, I certainly was.

    Best of Luck!


    1. Hi, Lee!

      Discussing our challenges may be the biggest challenge that we men encounter, especially when it comes to our career. Are you active on Twitter? Please feel free to reach out to me, @journeyingdave.

  3. What a great post. I often read the changeblog, but this one really hit home. When my company lost a major contract I was laid off, along with others over 50, so that the company I worked for could reduce it’s expenses. I was devastated because I really loved the work I was doing. After 7 months, I’m finally getting job offers, but not in the area where I previously worked. So I’ve resolved to take a leap of faith and try to find a position in an area that I’m really passionate about – wildlife conservation. Ultimately, I will need to go back to school to get the credentials I need, but at least I can begin the journey now.

    1. I am so happy to see you going for it, Elizabeth. It is very fulfilling hearing about how others are realizing that it isn’t what life has done to them. It is what you do with what happens in your life that matters.

      These journeys are not made overnight but they are well worth the effort.

  4. Good for you! I watched my own father struggle out of a career in finance. I truly believe that we make our own opportunities. For that reason, I went independent as a copywriter/marketing consultant a few years ago. I haven’t looked back since! You catch what you kill, so to speak. Very empowering. Thanks for the uplifting read.

    1. Hi, Tanya!

      You are living proof that people can learn from observing. So many people wait for a life-changing event to happen to them before they access what they can do. I am sure that your father is proud of your ability to gain perspective from his experience.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

  5. Dave-This really struck a chord. I made my career in teaching even though writing was my real passion. I thought teaching was more secure and threw myself into it, finally getting what I thought was my dream job teaching at a small community college. I believed if I did it all “right” I’d have a job that I could comfortably retire from. I applied and got a Fulbright scholarship assuming that was one of the pinnacles of academia. While I was in India on my Fulbright I was ousted from the college and found myself in my mid 50s without a job in a very small, isolated town with few opportunities. Like you, it all turned out to be a wonderful thing in the end, but that’s another story! Thanks for your post.

    1. We never truly know what is around the corner, do we Leslie? I can see why you thought why teaching would be a secure field to work in. Attaining a Fulbright scholarship should have given you the security you desired.

      Clearly, you had worked very hard to attain that honor. It is incredible to me that the community college that you worked for let you go. I doubt that it is very often that candidates of your caliber are offered to them.

      Maybe they could still learn a trick or two from you. Life isn’t always easy but engaging in your life is the best way to fulfill your life. That is a lesson that all of us learn at one time or another.

      I am glad that encountered what must have been unimaginable and came back smiling. You are inspiring.

  6. Powerful story and great advice, Dave.
    I especially like your statement that “you grew up in a world that no longer exists”. Recently, I moved back to Canada after 25 years working abroad. Wasn’t ready to do nothing, but came back to a world I no longer knew and had to find my place in it. It took a while, but I have found a place to use all those skills I acquired on the journey to now.

    1. It must have been jarring when you returned to a home that you had known so well, Carolynne. I am glad that you had the resilience to find your place when you couldn’t recognize the home that you found. You are an inspiration to those that are starting a similar journey to yours.

  7. Kickass, Dave! I’ve never been laid-off, but am in a rough period where my old life no longer fits and am afraid to step forward to my dreams. Your post really helped. THANKS!

  8. Hi, Marcy! The particular challenge that you confront is THE challenge that can seem so overwhelming. Finding a new career is definitely a rough patch but certainly not the only one.

    Your spirit is clearly strong. I know that you have what it takes to beat your challenge, You can do it!

  9. Hi Dave,

    Great Post! I like how you use a liability and change it into an asset. You place a positive spin on a difficult situation. Sometimes, when there is no net beneath us to save us, we got to continue hanging in there until we pull ourselves back up, again.


    1. Hi, Eugene!

      Has there ever been an acrobat that doesn’t wonder about the net beneath them? Sometimes things happen right after you release the trapeze ring. Aim for the next trapeze ring is the best thing to do when you are in the air.

      Thank you for your support, Eugene. It meant a lot to me to read your thoughtful comment.

  10. Dave, Here you help people with one of the most difficult losses of their life. And the way you help them is to help them see; it can actually be the window to vistas of a bright new future. Awesome who you are and what you do. What a privilege to know you! Slam

    1. Wow, Tim! You have left me speechless … almost. You have nailed exactly why I wrote this post. We all need each other. We are hard-wired by nature to succeed with each other, rather than in spite of each other.

      I am privileged to know you, Tim. You are doing incredible things for and with people on Twitter. Thanks for making my day!

  11. Love this Dave. not only do we sometimes get kicked out of long term traditional jobs, which I have but we also get ‘kicked out’ of long term businesses, which I just did. I worked 20 years in traditional market, hated most of it, so went into biz for myself 20 years ago. . .taxes no less. Secure forever, right? No such thing. Anyway, just did my last tax return a couple weeks ago and now kinda floundering because I’m telling myself the second biz should b a piece of cake because I’ve already done it once, right? I think a lot of us Baby Boomers are being called back to our roots. . .it’s like we took a long detour into the traditional job market knowing, for many of us anyway, it wasn’t really our calling. We still have lots to teach the rest of the world, especially this generation behind us. . .and taking second and third and fourth chances should be at the top of the list. Congrats to all on this blog who find a new way to be. . .thank you.

  12. Congratulations, Sharyl, for riding the trail that is calling you back to the business that you know. You are setting a fine example for anyone that is struggling with their career.

    Live long and live strong, Sharyl!

  13. Great inspiration, I had the same happen to me some years ago, at first I was devastated because that was all I knew at that time. Now when I look back, it was the best thing that could have happened and it allowed me to do things I had no idea I could do. God bless you and be encouraged.

    1. Isn’t it funny, Margaret, that what we dread most can be one of the most liberating moments of our life? Your story is absolute proof that we can surpass our challenges if we have faith and trust. #GBU = God Bless YOU.

  14. I did it! Lost my job to a layoff in 2007 in the auto industry after being there 15 years. I thought that I would retire from there. I tried a few random jobs but nothing panned out, so I decided that since I always wanted to go into Horticulture, I would go back to school. I was sponsored by the Ontario Governments Second career program for the 2 years of college. Moved to a new city to go to my selected school and graduated at 50 with a Hort degree! My son and my mom came to my grad. It was the best thing that every happened to me, since I am now enjoying the career that I always dreamed of.

    1. Believing in what you can do is a key to doing it. Don’t you think so, Susan? Your new, fulfilling career was beckoning to you. You did the work that you needed to do because you accepted its invitation.

      Look at what your family gained from your courage. Your Mom must have been so proud of you. What a powerful example you set for your your son!

      I am so happy that you are living your dream.

  15. mahavir nautiyal

    Excellent inspirational blog, Dave. One can imagine the utter disappointment when the support system comes crashing down all of a sudden and one is left rudderless in one’s career. It is in such hours of darkness that good, helpful souls like you, show the direction and light. True freedom of choice comes when all is lost provided hope and faith in oneself and God is not lost. Sometimes life gives us jolt and shock so that we may change direction and choose to do what one has always aspired to do but could not do being scared to lose the entangling security of career.

    1. One thing that my experience taught me was that I was much more than I had thought before. I trust in God and know that He loves me. So who am I to argue with His assessment?

      I can tell from your reply that you are a good, helpful soul sharing a positive light and direction with others when they feel lost. I appreciate your kind comments more that you know, Mahavir. Keep inspiring others like you have inspired me.

  16. Wonderful post Dave!
    I too have been laid off a few times because of reductions. I was a Chemical Engineer and quite successful at it for many years with many new products to my name and numerous patents. So I get what you mean about identifying with your job, especially if you had many accomplishments. Hard to let that go. For many years, I was not happy with how new products were being developed and went into process development to help others make their new Pharma products come to life. That worked as well and I was less frustrated with systems for new products, but frustrated with other issues.
    I had not realized until my last layoff, what my frustrations had really been about. I know my initial dreams of being a Chem Engr. were there when I was young, but I had changed and had new dreams. I was pushing aside those dreams because of all the success I had. When I was laid off last year, I did an inventory of myself and realized how much I loved both creating and writing. I am also very spiritually oriented, and that was missing from my daily affairs at work. So I was inspired to create new spiritual tools called Miracle Grids which I sell on amazon now. I started a mini blog on Blogger and will be starting my main blog once I switch my host. I had realized that the beliefs I held about myself were holding me back and created a website
    I wake up every morning excited about what I am going to do. I have many blog posts written ready to go and am happily learning wordpress to move my host site. It is a real joy having fun doing what I love, creating and writing. The ideas just keep coming.
    You are so right as well about giving to others. My twitter page had only a very few followers. I am realistic about knowing that businesses need time to grow. I noticed that people were sending tweets and that was it, just a retweet here and there. I started giving just because I thought they needed to know that someone was out there listening. So I started commenting with real genuine comments that were human to human and retweeting. I wanted them to know that they were becoming known by someone. Suddenly I started to get more followers and ones that wanted to converse. So I now have real conversations with people there. It is so nice to meet new people. I am still getting used to meeting in cyberspace. Smile! I joined up on your site because your post here was so compelling for me. Susan

  17. Your talent to step back and assess your full picture makes you a good leader, Susan.

    Most people are willing to slog through life rather than risk changing. Some people will act on their unhappiness if only they could figure out how. You knew your success was thwarted by your new vision that you had to make true.

    So you changed, and changed in a big way. I respect what you have accomplished.

    Your metamorphosis is an example of what can be achieved by those that are willing to accept responsibility and act accordingly. I followed you on Twitter today and look forward to getting to know you better. I have bookmarked your website for the same reason.

    Thank you for signing up on my site, Susan. Big smiles for you, :0) #gratitude

    1. Dave,

      Thanks for your kind words. I look forward to our time on Twitter. I am hoping to start my new website up (same name) with a new host soon. Two days ago, I had no idea what a widget and a plug in was. Now I started using the X theme, and my new site looks so good. Those guys have lots of videos to learn. I just kept playing and playing them until they sunk in. Then I did my new website with a new modern look. I still have some little issues to work before I go public with the change. The key is, if we put our minds to doing what needs to be done and we relax, knowing that we will have what we need when we need it, all comes easily and naturally. I find I just need to enjoy doing it as well. No sense doing what I can’t find some enjoyment in. Then relax and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

      That’s what happens when I follow my dreams. susan

      1. I feel stimulated with a new career that is a commitment to CEU (continuing education units). I am currently studying tutorials on systems that make my work easier. We need to be vigilant to be free. Sometimes that vigilance takes the form of improving our WordPress skills.

        On a related side note. my autoresponder vendor, GetResponse, has been under a serious DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack. DDoS attacks deny service by creating a giant echo chamber of incoming email for major vendors on the web.

        The DDoS attack on GetResponse has had a single impact on my subscribers. Outgoing email from GetResponse has been held up pending GetResponse fixing this problem. You may have experienced an email out of time with an event that was scheduled.

        GetResponse is a reliable vendor should be up to date shortly. Let me know if you run into any issues. I appreciate your patience while GetResponse shuts down the attack.

  18. Hi Dave – suddenly losing your career is painful, I can imagine. I quit my job at 31 and moved back to my mother’s to start my new business – and for a while I felt like a failure, especially when I struggled for new clients. I detailed my journey here –

    But like you say, trust is important – trust in yourself that you will make the right choices and everything will work out in the end. Without that trust, you’re always fighting yourself and questioning everything you do.

    Another thing you touch upon, acceptance – is a huge factor. I think people in all walks of life, especially when they lose something, should embrace acceptance as without it, we cannot move forwards. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I admire your clear-eyed approach to life. You accepted challenges and the outward appearance of failure to claim the success that you so richly deserve. I agree that acceptance is important to building your future.

      Not the kind of acceptance that most people exhibit, which is being resigned to accept their current circumstances.

      You chose instead to accept your circumstances in the spirit of “This is where I am. Where do I want to go? How do I get there?”

      You knew who you were. You worked hard to build the skills that you needed. You built a business without having a road map laid out for you.

      Job well done!

  19. Hi Dave,

    I’ve never been laid off before but the stress of working the banking industry is really taking a toll on me. I’m 44 this year.

    I’m afraid to take the bold step to quit my job and do something that i love. It pays well and with the mortgage and bills to pay, that can be scary.

    What can advice me, Dave?

    1. The expression “banker’s hours” came from another time, didn’t it? Banker’s hours were the short hours put in by a banker, who supposedly strolled into the office late in the morning, opened his mail, then met with a client over lunch and a prospective client on the golf course in the afternoon.

      Maybe that idyllic life existed before but we both know that isn’t how the game is played today.

      The hours are long, the business is competitive and balancing new business mandates against increasingly stringent underwriting standards has made banking a stressful profession. I understand how you feel.

      The last thing that I want to is give a pat “one size fits all” answer. I would have to know more about what you. More importantly, I want you to start the process of self-assessment because the answer will eventually be found within you.

      We can have a dialogue in the comments here or you can contact me through Twitter. In the meantime, congratulate yourself for taking the first step in your personal journey to success. Asking that first question is always the start of something big.

  20. Hi Dave,

    This could be my story if I was to write it. I was in financial services and middle aged as well. I hate this stereotyping. A poet once wrote at 35 “here I am in the middle of life” and died at 36.

    The hardest thing for me was to look at my partner’s face and see that she lost confidence in me after several months of sulking. Then, I realized that I had to re-invent myself. I prayed to God every day that my life doesn’t end there because I didn’t want to end as a loser. Thank God, those days are over.

    1. Hi, TC!

      I have to confess that I had an ironic smile on my face when I read about the poet and how the poet’s plans went astray. I really started smiling though when you spoke with conviction about how the worst was over. That kind of vitality and conviction is what carries all of us through our travails.

      Going through the tough stuff is what make our victories taste sweeter.

      You made me smile. You have made the other readers smile with your comment. Big smiles for you, TC!

  21. Dave, an inspiring story. So often we get hooked into living a life on someone elses rules and priorities. We have to climb our own mountains and find time for our real selves. It takes courage.
    I’m working the last few weeks of my own career so that I can spend time on the things that really are me.

  22. Dave your post resonated with me on a personal level. I worked in the financial Sector and when I made the decision to take a stand, I was quietly paid out to leave. Today I count it a blessing because it forced me to take a deep look into soul and answer some hard questions. I reconnected to my values and beliefs, and finally doing what fires me up and provides a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.

    1. You took the stand that you needed to take. I am sure that it was still quite a jolt when you when you took your pay-out, Diane. You are now leading the life that you were meant to live.

      You reconnected to your values when you mustered up the courage to do what you knew you needed to do, in my opinion.

      It is an honor to meet you because you live your values.

  23. Thanks for the article! I lost my job several years ago after 32 years; the hospital system decided to let go of many senior employees (in my dept it was all women) and hire newer and less expensive replacements. I now am very thankful, but the emotional trauma was very great! I’m now planning a totally new direction but the pushback from others is surprising and adds more drama than is necessary. Thank you for sharing your success, it is wonderful to hear!

  24. Losing an established career path can be much like the grieving process. It can be very painful. Its not just the lack of financial security. Our identities are often tied into our jobs.

    I am glad that you found your new direction. Were you surprised by the push-back that you received from others? Might you have triggered some insecurities in other people with your change in job status?

    You deserve to be happy. The people that really love you will be able to adjust with you. They may take a little time but you sound strong enough to wait them out.

  25. In my opinion the problem is that many people see a work in a company as the only option. We can do thousands of things in this world and the worst is to work in a same company for 5, 10 or 20 years

  26. I agree, Alberto.

    Financial security in the past meant having a job. You cannot rely on companies to provide you with financial security now.

    You need to stay informed of the changes rocketing through the economy.

    Being able to think and act independently is the foundation for financial security. It really has always been that way.

  27. Dave, Thanks for such a lovely write up. Today is my first day on The Change Blog and I feel I was missing something all this while.

    I feel one can follow these eight steps even if the life is going smooth. These will only make our lives better.

  28. Welcome, Kulwinder! I am glad that you found The Change Blog. These steps can make your life better, no matter where you are starting from. I am feeling great now. I am glad that i did the work to get me to where I am now.

  29. Wise words. I really related to the sections about living a life someone else had designed for you. I haven’t lost my career, but I’m working on making a major change. Your advice resonates for anyone seeking to live a more authentic life.

    1. Thanks for your kind words. Living a more authentic life is what I was delighted to find after losing my previous career. I wish you that same joy in your new venture.

  30. i lost love and loosing career at the same time . i am unable to get out of love and my situation is taking me in a small town where i have no company’s to offer me job no career, there could be no career no love in my life any more,i am unable to get out of this depression. life is impossible. i am unable to overcome. i am passionated about graphic designing but lots of competition less money, and i ve no money to put 2lakhs and learn. iam totally blocked, my brain squeezes. help me out.

  31. Your post resonated with me. I was an Accountant (somewhat) for over 20 years. The point came when I could no longer bear it, and I quit, supposing that I would find my true “vocation”. One year and half later, it still hasn’t happened. I had one temporary job that lasted six months….My true skills were always in language, both English and foreign tongues. As a youth, I couldn’t imagine what to do with that skill set. Now, I find myself utterly lost. My Accounting career, such as it was, is over. There are no responses to my applications. I must begin anew, but I am so blocked as to how. My poor 50 year old brain no longer absorbs foreign language as it did when I was in my teens…but I still watch foreign films, always looking to learn a new phrase or two….losing hope.

  32. Hi Dave,

    I’m a 35-year-old “loser” who has self-sabotaged and lost all my jobs. I stumbled upon this blog after Googling “my career is over”. Your posting really struck a chord with me, especially this quote, “The biggest mistake I have made is to think that my future must be an extension of my past.”

    I’ve never been laid off or fired. All the jobs I’ve lost was due to my own unwillingness to work through challenges, fear, obstacles, uncertainties, risks, discomfort, etc. I’ve been diagnosed with a general social anxiety disorder and major depression.

    I have the urge to vomit my life history and problems here, but I know that would not be the best use of my time or yours. To be succinct, I was blessed with an enviable internship in Silicon Valley during college and joined a Big 4 firm after graduation (of which I left after only 2 months due to a mental breakdown). I’ve had experiences in finance, accounting and worked for some pretty great companies. I’m now 35, working minimum wage for a family member’s business and feeling like I was a fraud in all of me previous roles.

    I have a strong desire to do something different with my life and be happy. I just don’t know what that entails. I feel like I haven’t learned anything from my experiences other than having been a serial quitter.

    Your words of wisdom are greatly appreciated.


    1. Mike,
      I find myself in the same place. I’m currently in a debacle in an internship due to some strife with coworkers and management. This potentially means I won’t finish my doctoral degree after several years of expensive schooling. I’m at a very emotional place in life, given my wife is about to deliver our first. I do believe that the future is unknown and dynamic, and have been attempting to take inspiration and support from everyone, and appreciate your honesty.

  33. Dave,
    Thanks for your post. It really resonates with me. I have been struggling for years to find my calling, a process which took me through the world of banking, non-profit work and later public health. Seven years ago I moved to a country with very few job opportunities in “my field”. I spent years feeling frustrated, until I finally let go of the desire to work in health policy. The experience has been so freeing, to realize that it’s not what I want and that it wasn’t bringing me happiness. I realized that I mainly chose my career path because I wanted an interesting job with a stable salary, not because it was bringing me joy every day. Like you, I also want to be a writer, and I don’t know where this dream will lead yet, but I feel so much better without the pressure on my shoulders of needing to be the way I used to define myself. I still have a ways to go in order to figure out what I will do with my skills, but it’s true that these realizations, tough as they are, offer new freedom.

    Cheers, Emily

  34. At the expense of repeating what a lot of others have said, I could identify with your article at a personal level. Some of us come to this cross roads on our own, others are forced by circumstances but only those who have experienced it first hand can empathize with what it entails.
    After a lifetime of wanting to do something, be something I find myself asking why was there no plan B. I find myself asking questions to myself that I never thought existed. I wake up everyday in the morning literally counting my blessings so I don’t sink into a deep dark place in my head. Unlike others who have dug themselves out, I am still not out of the woods. Your post gave me hope, even if momentarily and I am thankful to you for that.

  35. Hi Dave

    Thank you for this helpful post. I’m going through a difficult stage of life at present and feel quite lost. I’m in my late 30s and desperately want a change. I will continue to re-read your post to build up some self belief.

    Go well


  36. To my own admission I am certainly not one for posting or leaving a virtual footprint via social media platforms but I have to say thank you (and to all those that posted follow ups) for writing this. I know it’s many years ago but it still carries a powerful lesson. I find myself in a very similar situation and find it hard to know what to do next with my anxiety ripping my head apart. The positivity from you and others is something that I will carry with me as I navigate the next chapter (and hopefully a few more) of my life. So in short-thank you

  37. I have been a nurse for 22 years. For 17 I got to live my passion. But the medical system has changed, and I have changed. I quit my job a year and a half ago and I have tried a few other things that have not worked out for one reason or another. I was let go last week for “not being a good fit” and I think it was a blessing. It’s hard to figure out what to do next, and I pray every day for God to show me where he wants me and how to use my talents. This article was great and resonates with me. I may try to use these steps here, and find my way. Some things seem overwhelming, I love to write but it seems like there are already a zillion bloggers and writers. I’m trying to remain patient with myself. I know it’s a process and it’s good to know others who have come out the other side.

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