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You Can Do It!

Career Change After 50

His career comeback story made it to Hollywood. Now Chris Gardner is here to help you.

blue collar worker looking out over the horizon

— Christophe Vander Eecken/GalleryStock

Dear Chris,

Last year I was laid off from my job in oil-burner repair. After a year of retraining I found a job in an air-conditioning plant. I’m glad to have work, but I feel as if I’ve lost my identity. Can a person really start over at my age and feel good about it?

Albert Ferrell, 51, Philadelphia

Dear Albert,

Age is a fact, but it’s not the whole story. At 51 you are younger than Ray Kroc was when he started the McDonald’s chain. So, yes, it’s possible to start something new after 50 and make it your life’s work.

Stop worrying about starting over, and just start. To find the self you feel you’ve lost, figure out what turns you on—that one passion that makes you say, “The sun can’t rise soon enough, because I’ve got to do my thing.” See where you are with it, and where you want to go.

Next, take a step toward your goal. Maybe it’s pursuing a hobby. Maybe it’s bringing old strengths to your new job. Where do you start? Start where you are! Martin Luther King Jr. said it best: “You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.”

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