What Career Should You Have?

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I Don’t Know What Career I Want!

Don’t worry! In the words of Michael Jackson, “you are not alone.” In fact, many people don’t figure out what they want to do until well into their twenties, or sometimes even later.

The main thing is to not to let your indecision paralyse you. Instead, think of it as a positive thing and use it to your advantage. Not having a set career plan gives you the freedom to explore different career options and maybe even try out a few graduate jobs that you couldn’t ever possibly imagine yourself doing for a living.

CAREER TESTS

So how can you start considering your different career options? One option is to have a go on a couple of career tests, and, for starters, you might want to try our free career test. We think it does its job pretty well (and it’s quite fun too). The test matches your skills, personality and interests with different industry sectors so you’ve narrowed down your choices, but you still have more than one option.

Once you’ve got your shortlist of potential industry sectors, you can start researching them in more detail and see which ones appeal to you the most. Read our sector overviews, rifle through our occupational profiles and dip into some of the sector-specific articles. Career tests don’t necessarily have to be taken at face value, but they are a fantastic way of giving you some inspiration.

SELF-REFLECTION

Practical research is so important when it comes to choosing your career, but it should be coupled with a bit of self-reflection too. When choosing a career, you need to identify your skills, your personality, your motivations and your interests.

What are you good at? And we don’t just mean academically. Are you imaginative? Great with people? Always organising things? Think about what motivates you and what you’re interested in.

WORK EXPERIENCE

The career test and your own research should give you a good idea of the kind of direction you want to head in. Next, it’s up to you to secure some work experience to test out what careers best suit you.

Yes, that’s right, work experience isn’t just CV fodder. If you do it right, it’s a great way to find out where your future career path lies.

Once you’ve got your shortlist of potential sectors, it’s always a good idea to find work experience in those areas.

You can read about things as much as you want, but only once you get your hands dirty and gain practical experience of the working world will you be able to suss out whether certain jobs are right for you. Work experience is also a great chance to talk to employees and get their own take on their profession.

AN ACTIVE APPROACH

The main thing is to take a positive step forward. Actively exploring your career options is far more productive than banging your head against a wall and wailing, “I don’t know what career I want.” You might even find the whole process — dare we say it — enjoyable.

And even if you’ve figured out what it is you want to do, remember that you don’t have to stick with your choice for the rest of your life. Often starting one job, or striking out in one direction, will open up doors in other areas.

How old is too old to work?

Many companies value the skills that more experienced workers offer.

While many people dream of early retirement, there are some who are perfectly content with working well into their golden years. The unemployment rate for workers 55 and over remains steady at 3.2%, nearly a full point lower than the national average of all workers. In fact, the American workforce is aging, with 35% of the workforce projected to be over 50 years old by 2022.

The question is how old is too old to work? While answers may vary by individual since it often depends on a person’s physical health, the nature of the job, and their financial situation, research shows that it’s going to become increasingly common to work past retirement age.

In fact, less than half (45%) of workers 45+ said they expect to retire at or before age 65, according to an AARP study. When that same question was posed in 2004, the number was 62%.

For those who plan to stay in the workforce for the long haul, here’s what you need to know.

Is age bias common?

Short answer: Yes, though ageism doesn’t appear to be rampant across the board. However, in certain industries, it’s almost unheard of to see people in their 50s or 60s thriving. Take tech, for example.

“Being in Silicon Valley, we face real age discrimination and the work culture is definitely one of youth,” says Dave Arnold, President of Arnold Partners, LLC, an executive recruiting firm.

Age bias can certainly hamper older job seekers. “It can come in the form of employment algorithms that screen out anyone above a certain age, or job advertisements that call for ‘digital natives,’ or that prospective employers think an experienced candidate will cost too much without ever asking,” says Susan Weinstock, AARP Vice President of Financial Resilience Programming.

The good news is that many companies have really come to value the skill sets, knowledge, and work ethic that more experienced workers can offer. One study commissioned by AARP called A Business Case for Workers Age 50+: A Look at the Value of Experience found that members of the workforce who are 50 and older continue to be the most engaged age cohort.

Weinstock also points out that studies reveal older workers to be:

  • Less resistant to change
  • Less likely to leave the organization
  • Less likely to miss work
  • Innovative and able to keep up with technology

How to embrace your age

Working well into your retirement years is certainly possible, but it does require personal branding effort and sometimes even a little creative career reshaping. Consider this: Nearly 40% of workers age 50 and over haven’t updated their resume in the past decade and, for those age 65 and over, the figure jumps to nearly 50%, according to a 2017 national AARP survey.

In other words, just because you’ve been working for decades doesn’t mean you should take your foot off the gas—not if you want to have career staying power, that is. Keeping your resume updated is just the start. Here are some other strategies to try:

Stay in the know. Keeping your personal brand fresh, current, and relevant is especially important for older workers since one of the potential hesitations a prospective employer may have is that you’re not “up-to-date” on the latest trends, says Joseph Liu, career consultant and host of the Career Relaunch podcast.

To stay informed, he recommends subscribing to relevant industry newsletters and podcasts to learn about trends, leaders, and happenings, and attending conferences to hear the latest thinking on hot topics in your field.

Unplug from your old tech ways. “I think technology bias is valid in some cases, so it is important that as people go through their career they are continually learning the latest technologies,” says Arnold. Do what you can to demonstrate that continual learning and self-improvement are part of your core values by taking training courses and embracing new technologies.

Dress the part. Keeping well-groomed and wearing modern styles can go a long way, says Arnold. “Hire a personal shopper to help you dress, and work with your stylist—or go to a younger one—to keep appropriately current,” he suggests. This is especially important if you’re doing the job interview circuit.

Consider an age-friendly career switch. If you’re not having luck finding positions in your field (or keep facing the “overqualified” dead end), consulting work could be the answer.

“Consulting is one potential industry where being an older worker could be an asset,” says Liu, “especially because dependability, domain expertise, a wealth of knowledge and skills, and a mature, well-informed outlook can be incredibly useful.”

Although you might think of your age as an asset, it’s important to understand that not everyone will. “Companies talk about cultural fit, but it is a mistake to equate age with culture,” says Arnold. “I have met people of all ages who retain their sense of youth and vigor.” And so can you if you keep your skills fresh and embrace change.

Search smarter

When you find an employer who appreciates you for who you are—at any age—you’ll never be too old to work. Could you use some help with your job search? Join Monster today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent straight to your inbox to cut down on the time you’d spend reading job ads. Remember: Talent doesn’t diminish with age. Get out there!

“You need to focus more on recovery after 50. Tissue recovery takes more time and more effort to support that recovery,” he says. “The exact amount of time depends on your baseline fitness level.”

How do you know when you’ve had enough rest? “Look at trends,” says Kruse. “If you find soreness isn’t going away and is impacting your next workout this may indicate early signs of injury or not enough recovery time.” Being unable to decrease your time or improve whatever markers you’re using to gauge progress may also indicate you need to allow more recovery time, says Kruse.

Old rule: Warming up is an option

New rule: Always include a thorough warm-up

Warming up before a workout increases circulation, raises heart rate and body temperature, prepares muscles for exercise and increases joint range of motion. Warm-ups are particularly beneficial after 50 to mediate some of the changes that occur with aging, mainly decreased tendon elasticity, says Kruse.

“It’s best to warm up with a combination of light cardio and light stretching, although the specifics can vary,” he says. Although it’s best to warm up the specific muscles you’re about to use, a general lower body warm-up such as a light treadmill workout will benefit all muscles, including upper body.

“It will benefit you no matter what your workout,” says Kruse.

Next Avenue Editors Also Recommend:

  • How to Avoid Crippling Falls After Age 50

  • Good Sports for Bad Knees

  • The Secret of Aging and How to Slow It Down

By Linda Melone, CSCSNext Avenue contributor Linda Melone is a California-based freelance writer and certified personal trainer specializing in health, fitness and wellness for women over 50.

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As a 41-year-old, I can attest that I don’t bounce back from tough workouts as quickly as I used to. It sometimes feels like there’s no bounce left at all—just the prolonged feeling that some trickster has painted the soles of my shoes with glue. Most of my contemporaries report the same thing.

Of course, it’s not just the passage of decades that distinguishes the current me from my 21-year-old counterpart. I’m a lot busier these days, so I train a lot less—less mileage, less intensity, less of pretty much everything. My non-training hours are mostly spent sitting (or, when I remember, standing) at a desk in front of a computer screen instead of, say, playing pick-up basketball or exploring on my bike. I’m weaker than I used to be.

All of this creates a familiar chicken-and-egg question. Do I recover more slowly these days because I’m old, which prevents me from training as hard as I used to and consequently makes me less fit? Or do I recover more slowly simply because I don’t train the way I used to, which in turn makes me feel old?

RELATED: Should Masters Runners Use Longer Training Cycles?

It’s pretty hard to answer this question definitively, because people live the lives they live—you can’t randomize volunteers to be lazy or active for several decades to see what happens. Ultimately, of course, aging isn’t just an illusion, and there’s pretty good evidence that by the time you’re in your 60s many things—including how quickly you recover from a hard workout—have changed.

But what about in your 40s, a time when many people start to feel older but evidence of physiological decline is more equivocal? That’s what a new study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, from researchers at the University of Central Florida led by Jay Hoffman, investigates.

The study compared nine men with an average age of 22 to ten men with an average age of 47. A crucial detail is that everyone in the study had to be “recreationally resistance trained,” engaging in resistance training over the previous six months while meeting standard guidelines of at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. That doesn’t guarantee that the two groups were equally fit and active, but at least we’re not comparing young athletes to older couch-potatoes.

The volunteers all did a “high-volume isokinetic resistance exercise” workout, which involved eight sets of ten repetitions using machines where they straightened and then flexed their knee repeatedly against a resistance. Their leg strength was assessed before and after the test, and then reassessed a few more times until 48 hours after the workout, along with blood tests to monitor muscle damage and inflammation (which is a key part of the muscle-repair process). While the workout isn’t running (and is quite different from typical strength-training protocols too), the basic pathways of muscle damage, repair, and recovery are thought to be similar across exercise types.

RW IN YOUR INBOX: Have the latest news, advice, and inspiration sent to you every day with our Runner’s World Newsletters.

The results are pretty simple to sum up: There were no differences between the two groups. The younger group was stronger to start out with, but the relative loss and recovery of strength was the same in both groups. Markers of stress and inflammation also followed the same trajectory in both young and old; so did subjective reports of pain and soreness.

Here’s some sample data, showing levels of interleukin-6, a marker of inflammation that “facilitates communication for the mobilization, proliferation, and differentiation of immune cells to the site of tissue damage.” The young folks are the black bars, middle-aged are the white bars. You can see increases starting after 30 minutes (30P) and persisting 48 hours later, but no significant differences between the groups.

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

If you squint, might you imagine that the inflammatory response in the older group is a little less pronounced? If this study had 1,000 subjects in each group, would that difference become statistically significant? It’s impossible to say for sure—but even if it did, you’d still be left with a pretty subtle difference. In other words, there’s no smoking gun here to explain the effects of aging. Score a point for the “we feel old because we act old, not the other way around” school of thought.

In practice, the distinction probably doesn’t matter too much. Whether I’m fighting biology or lifestyle, the end result is that I need get out more and work harder—like I used to.

And on that note, next time I’m dragging around feeling beat after a hard workout, I need to remind myself that it wasn’t all smiles and rainbows in my 20s, either. Flip through my training logs from that period, and you see tons of entries tagged with comments like, “VERY tired. Legs heavy. Slow.” That’s not aging, it’s simply training—and later, when you rest up and it all comes together, it makes it feel all the sweeter.

***

For more Sweat Science, follow me on Twitter or Facebook, sign up for my email newsletter, and check out my forthcoming book (with a foreword by Malcolm Gladwell), Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance.

How Do Our Recovery Needs Change As We Age?

A 2016 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise states that older triathletes experience slower protein synthesis than younger athletes.

Of course, rest days don’t have to mean sitting on the couch. A rest day could include a leisurely walk, a stretch, or even light exercise. For example, if you performed an upper body weight lifting session today, you can try something low-impact and leg-focused, like indoor cycling, tomorrow.

“Find a way to look forward to recovery days,” suggests Ray. “Pick something you enjoy doing that feels restful, so you keep showing up. View these recovery days as an investment in long term fitness.”

Refuel with proper nutrition.

After working out, you need to refuel. Consuming 20-30 grams of protein within an hour of exercise can jumpstart muscle repair, but it’s important to get enough protein throughout the day. Try to spread it out between meals, so that your body can use it all day long. For years, general guidelines have suggested that adults get about .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. But a study published in the American Journal of Physiology says this might not be enough for older adults.

In the study, researchers noted that healthy adults aged 52-75 who ate 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight built and maintained more muscle than those who ate the usual .8 grams. That extra muscle can keep you moving well later in life and may even stave off sarcopenia—the natural loss of muscle tissue as you age.

So, to maintain feeling your best well into the future, be sure to stay active (that’s easy with Aaptiv) and feed your muscles. For some inspiration, try these high-protein recovery meals.

This 73-Year-Old Fitness Fanatic Is Defying Expectations On Every Level

Almost three years ago, Joan MacDonald found herself at her doctor’s office, where she was told that her health was deteriorating rapidly. At 70 years old, she was on multiple medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and acid reflux. Doctors were telling her she needed to up the dosages—unless she made a drastic lifestyle change.

MacDonald was done with the meds and tired of feeling helpless and uncomfortable in her skin. Even though she couldn’t remember the last time she’d really focused on her health, she knew that if she wanted to make a change, it was now or never.

“I knew I had to do something different,” MacDonald tells Shape. “I had watched my mom go through the same thing, taking medication after medication, and I didn’t want that life for myself.” (Related: Watch This 72-Year-Old Woman Achieve Her Goal of Doing a Pull-Up)

MacDonald shared her desire to develop healthier habits with her daughter Michelle, who’d been pushing her mom to prioritize her health for years. As a yogi, competitive powerlifter, professional chef, and owner of Tulum Strength Club in Mexico, Michelle knew she could help her mom reach her goals. “She said she was willing to help me get started and said I should join her online workout program to help get me going,” says Joan.

Soon, MacDonald began going on walks as her form of cardio, practicing yoga, and she even started weight lifting. “I remember picking up a 10-pound weight and thinking it felt really heavy,” shares MacDonald. “I was really starting from scratch.”

Today, MacDonald has lost a total of 62 pounds, and her doctors have given her a clean bill of health. Plus, she no longer needs to take all those medications for her blood pressure, acid reflux, and cholesterol.

But getting to this point took a lot of hard work, consistency, and time.

When she was first starting out, MacDonald’s focus was to build her overall strength and endurance. At first, she was only exercising as much as she could while being safe. Eventually, she built up to spending two hours in the gym, five days a week. “I’m very slow, so it takes me almost double the time to finish a regular workout,” explains MacDonald. (See: How Much Exercise You Need Totally Depends on Your Goals)

Having a consistent routine also helped her immensely. “I just get my workout out of the way first thing in the morning,” explains MacDonald. “So, usually every day at about 7 a.m., I head to the gym, then I have the rest of the day to work on other things on my schedule.” (Related: 8 Health Benefits of Morning Workouts)

MacDonald’s workout routine has changed over the past three years, but she still spends at least five days at the gym. Two of those days are dedicated to cardio specifically. “I usually use the stationary bike or rower,” she says.

The other three days, MacDonald does a mix of cardio and strength training, focusing on different muscle groups each day. “Using my daughter’s workout program, I usually do a variety of upper-body, legs, glutes, and hamstring workouts,” she shares. “I still have issues with heavier weights, but I know not to go overboard. I know my limits and do what I can do comfortably, making sure I’m doing it well. The workouts are always changing, so I’m working every muscle in my body on a weekly basis.” (Related: How Much Exercise You Need Totally Depends On Your Goals)

But in order to see a major improvement to her health, working out on its own wasn’t going to cut it. MacDonald knew she had to transform her diet, too. “When I started, I was probably eating less than I do now, but I was eating the wrong things,” she says. “Now, I eat more, (five small meals a day), and I continue to lose weight and feel better overall.” (See: Why Eating More Might Actually Be the Secret to Losing Weight)

Initially, MacDonald’s goal was to lose weight as fast as possible. But now, she says she’s all about feeling strong and powerful, challenging herself to achieve specific strength goals in the gym. “I’ve been working on doing unassisted pull-ups,” she says. “I was actually able to do a few just the other day, but I’d like to be able to do it like all the youngins. That’s my goal.” (Related: 25 Experts Reveal the Best Advice to Achieve Any Goal)

Once she found confidence in her body physically, MacDonald says she felt the need to push herself mentally as well. “My daughter introduced me to apps like Headspace and Elevate, and I also decided to learn Spanish on DuoLingo,” she shares. “I also love doing crossword puzzles.” (Related: The Best Meditation Apps for Beginners)

MacDonald says reaching her goals comes down to pure dedication and hard work, but adds that she couldn’t have done it without her daughter’s guidance. “I’ve admired her all along, but having her train me is something else, especially since she doesn’t hold anything back,” says MacDonald. “She doesn’t let me go at my pace completely. It’s a challenge, but I appreciate it.”

If there’s any advice MacDonald has for older women who want to get into fitness, it’s this: Age is just a number, and you don’t always need to be “coddled” through workouts just because you’re in your 70s.

“We are strong capable of change, but we’re often viewed as fragile,” she says. “I hope that more women my age embrace being pushed and appreciate that someone is interested in seeing you try harder. Even though you can’t turn back the clock, you can wind it up again.”

Women over 50 know they need to improve their fitness levels but can still have a hard time fitting it into their busy schedules. While they might crave the camaraderie that one experiences at a gym or during a class, certain things could hold them back from engaging in them. Scheduling conflicts are common but so is navigating the culture of a particular gym or class. Workout apps can provide the motivation and variety that women need to stay healthy while still meeting their other needs. We looked at what’s on the market and recoomend these as some of the best workout apps out there.

1. Yoga Poses

Yoga Poses offers you 250 yoga poses with accompanying video demos, modifications for beginners and explanations about the benefits you can experience with each pose. This free app is ideal if you’re more comfortable exercising or learning new poses in private.

2. Endomondo

The Endomondo app is free and essentially turns your iPhone into a personal trainer. Using your phone’s GPS capabilities, Endomondo monitors your favorite activity — even outside the box ones like kayaking, skiing and hiking — and delivers performance feedback. You can plan routes in Google Maps, listen to music and receive encouragement via instant messages from friends from within the app.

3. Gixo

Gixo’s tagline is Exercise Live & OnDemand which sums up the app nicely. Whether you’re traveling or at home, you can join a live exercise group day and night. Choose from classes that run 15, 30 or 40 minutes long that are easy to fit into your busy schedule. Tap into a library of pre-recorded classes 24/7 in any fitness level. With Gixo, it’s like having a personal trainer to collaborate with to help you reach your fitness goals.

4. Daily Burn

Definitely one of the best workout apps out there, and FREE, Daily Burn lets you seamlessly track both your caloric intake and your exercise output in one interactive place. Included in the app is a calorie counter that lets you scan a food’s barcode and get instant nutritional information. You can also stream more than 1,000 workouts ranging from beginners to advanced.

5. FitnessBuilder

FitnessBuilder gives you the power of a personal trainer along with the ability to record and track your workouts so you can compare your progress with your friends. With FitnessBuilder Plus Access, you can choose from more than 1,000 workouts and over 7,000 videos and fitness images to ensure your form is correct and more.

6. You Are Your Own Gym

Working on the premise that you don’t have any equipment, You Are Your Own Gym is packed with 200 bodyweight exercises that tap into just your own body’s weight to be effective. Available for Apple and Android devices, this app also includes how-to videos and modifications so you can customize the exercises to your fitness level.

7. Yoga Wake Up

With the Yoga Wake Up app, you might be swayed to become a morning person — even if you aren’t right now. These easy routines are ones you can do right from your bed and range from stretches that get the blood flowing, those that energize you, ones that increase your mindful breathing and more.

8. 7 Minute Workout

The 7 Minute Workout app lets even the busiest women squeeze in exercise routines that are short, yet effective. Using a combination of cardio and strength training exercises that don’t need any special equipment, the 7 Minute Workout also tracks your progress to keep you both motivated and challenged.

9. Couch to 5K Running App

If running a 5K is on your bucket list now that you’ve surpassed the half-century mark, it can be more than a little intimidating knowing how to get started. That’s where the Couch to 5K Running App comes in. Ease into training with a nine-week program that has you running three times a week for 30 minutes each time. Choose from four virtual coaches with their own distinct personalities to keep you motivated.

10. Pilates Anytime

Pilates Anytime takes the tricky vocabulary associated with the practice and breaks down each move clearly. You can watch each one as many times as you need to feel comfortable without the pressures that a group setting often brings. If you’re already a Pilates pro, choose from one of the 2,500 included classes that range from favorites like foam roller workouts, basic mat routines, barre fusion and more.

11. My Fitness Pal

My Fitness Pal is your one-stop location for tracking your diet, exercise and caloric intake. If your goal is to lose weight — or keep weight from creeping up on you — in addition to getting fit, My Fitness Pal makes it fast and easy to count calories while providing a place to log your exercise.

12. GymGoal

Adding weights to your workouts can help you retain muscle mass, flexibility and strength as you age. Getting started can be intimidating, but the GymGoal app is here to help. With your one-time purchase of GymGoal, you have access to a powerful, adjustable and expandable fitness app. Not only will you learn the proper form for weight lifting, you’ll also have access to a growing library of workouts that can be modified based on both your capabilities and your goals.

Turning your smartphone into a fitness tool is made easier with the plethora of apps available today. The best workout apps are the ones you’ll actually use. The above selections are designed to give you a taste of the diverse options you can tap into to meet your health goals.

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