map 455769 1280Imagine being in your fifties, not far off retirement and working in a successful corporate job and then deciding to give it all up to start a business – I did that! Or imagine finishing school not really sure what you want to do and spending the next year travelling to find out what you’re really passionate about.

That’s become so popular it even has a name – ‘gap year’. A mid-career break, previously considered career suicide, is now quite accepted and even encouraged. These are all some of the subtle changes that reflect the fact that we are all living longer.

In wealthy countries like Australia, children born today are most likely going to live to be over 100. That means so much more time to start a new career, take up new hobbies and spend time with the people we love. It also means that the 3-phase approach to life - education, work and retirement is no longer accurate.

We might study in order to re-skill at different points in our lives; we may also take mini-retirements or mid-career breaks or we may choose to start a business or work part-time in retirement.

A multi-stage life and the increased options it provides also mean there will be a greater number of transitions we have to navigate. Unfortunately transitions can be stressful. Changes don’t always go as smoothly as we think they should. They take longer, there are hiccups along the way and the path isn’t always linear.

Here are some things to keep in mind when managing transitions:

  1. Unexpected anxieties around your identity may crop up. Change is often associated with a loss even when you are excited about the end result. Retiring or changing careers is closely tied to your sense of identity. You are not only giving up a role with all the associated contacts and reputation, but society might also see you differently. By the time you leave your retirement party, you may have gone from an executive to a senior citizen. Similarly, when you have a baby once you leave the hospital you have transitioned from being a couple to a family and the world treats you differently.
  2. People closest to you might be the least supportive. Change can also be threatening for the people closest to you, causing them to be less supportive than you would like. They might be worried about the impact the change will have on them. They may also be worried about how it might change you.
  3. What have you got to lose? The older we get the harder it can be to make major changes. A mid-career transition can mean starting from scratch, both financially and in terms of knowledge and skills. There’s so much more to lose as you get older than when you’re just starting out.
  4. The process is messy. Things don’t always go according to plan or within the timeframe we expect them to.

The best way to manage transitions is to plan for them. Start building up contacts, interests or a financial buffer before making the leap. Talk to the experts, whether it’s purchasing your first home or planning a business in retirement, and make sure you’re fully informed and have all your ducks in a row. Surround yourself with people who are excited about the change and who can be supportive when you hit a setback.


Lynette Murray will be speaking more about managing transitions at Festival of Ambitious Ideas: The 100 Year Life on Thursday 2 March.
To find out more and to register, visit


About Lynette Murray
Lynette Murray is the founder of ActonLendingSolutions part of the ActonAdviceGroup and the author of “Pretty Rich”, a book about Money Personality. ActonLendingSolutions provides lending advice tailored to your unique situation, whether you’re a first home buyer; a property investor; or wanting to refinance to consolidate debt, renovate or manage changing family situations. As senior adviser, Lynette Murray has over 30 years’ experience in the financial services industry, specialising in financial planning for over 15 years.