511: Career Change at 50: You’re Never Too Old or Too Busy

When Scott realized he was no longer excited about or challenged by the job he’d had for 18 years, he worried he was too far into his career to make the change he desired.



Scott Ingham, Territory Business Manager

Scott had built a great career working for the same company for 18 years. When he began to feel a sense of stagnation and restlessness, he worried he might be too late in his career journey to make the change he desired.

on this episode

Starting a new career later in life can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. As we age, we may feel like we’re too set in our ways to change, or that time is running out. However, the truth is that a career change can be just what we need to reignite our passion and drive.

Take Scott, for example. After 18 years in the same job, he realized that he was no longer challenged or fulfilled. Despite his fears of being too old or not having enough time, he made the decision to pursue a new career path.

One of the biggest challenges he faced was managing his time between work, family, and pursuing his new career goals. However, he found that by adjusting his mindset and creating a master schedule with the help of a coach, he was able to integrate his career change work into his daily life.

It’s important to remember that your support system can play a big role in helping you achieve your goals. By communicating your plans and needs to your loved ones, you can find ways to make the transition easier for everyone involved.

Despite his initial doubts and fears, Scott was able to overcome his limiting beliefs and successfully switch to a new role in just six months. This is a testament to the fact that it’s never too late to make a change and pursue your dreams.

What you’ll learn

  • How to fit a career change into your life no matter how busy you are 
  • All about HTYC’s master schedule 
  • Using strengths to overcome limiting beliefs 
  • How networking accelerated Scott’s career change

Scott Ingham 00:01

I think they were kind of shocked that, you know, this is what I'm looking for, and not like I was just a person begging for the job or answering all the questions the way that they wanted. I was just like, "This is what I'm looking for in a position, in a company, in a company culture." And I honestly think that was what sealed it for me.

Introduction 00:29

This is the Happen To Your Career podcast, with Scott Anthony Barlow. We help you stop doing work that doesn't fit you, figure out what does and make it happen. We help you define the work that's unapologetically you, and then go get it. If you feel like you were meant for more and ready to make a change, keep listening. Here's Scott. Here's Scott. Here's Scott.

Scott Anthony Barlow 00:54

One of the biggest obstacles when making a career change to more meaningful work is lack of time and energy. How do you find the time to make a change if you have a full time job, a partner, children, a social life, if you're like many people at this stage of their career, and you're trying to juggle all of these commitments on top of making a career change, the solution is not only allocating the appropriate time and resources, but also setting the other people in your life up for success so that they can support you. At HTYC, we do this by using what we call a "master schedule". This tool forces you to intentionally decide what your average week looks like and needs to look like so that you can successfully focus on career change. Think about it as a budget for your time. It also gives you the language and visuals to explain the support you'll need to your partner.

Scott Ingham 01:50

She was all into this process, because she saw firsthand how miserable I was up through and she was actually one that kind of pushed me off that ledge to finally make the decision. But I think the conversations were, who's going to do what, carry what responsibilities for the week, and what activities were I going to give up. And she's kind of like picked up and then vice versa.

Scott Anthony Barlow 02:15

That's Scott Ingham. Scott had built a great career in medical sales, working for the same type of role for 18 years. Over the years, Scott began to realize he wasn't as excited about his job as he had once been. He was no longer being challenged. And he just knew there had to be more out there. Scott felt he might be too late in his career journey to make a change. But he overcame those limiting beliefs and ultimately landed a role that he is incredibly excited about. Scott talks in detail about how he set himself up and his entire family out for success using HTYC's master schedule, but also how he worked with his partner to manage what was going on throughout the week, every single week. He also discusses how he beat out more qualified candidates by simply knowing exactly what he wanted in his new role and being able to articulate that and ask for it during the interview process. Here's Scott explaining the early influences of his career journey.

Scott Ingham 03:16

I grew up in upstate New York, and I went to school for accounting. And, really, I didn't know what accountants did or anything at that point in time. I had a brother-in-law that was the director of finance and just hearing little bits of stuff from him around the dinner table, I was like, "I think I'd like that job." So I went in, got an undergrad in accounting, and then got out and worked as an accountant– doing securities exchange, commission reports, and producing financials for a very large utility company. I did that for about six years. And at the end of my sixth year, I was looking around at people and I was like looking, everyone was always at their desk bright and early in the morning at seven and left at seven at night. And I started to have kids at that point. My first son, Ethan, and all these guys were missing their kids' sporting events, and they seem to be really miserable in their jobs. And I thought to myself, "There's got to be something better than this." And a lot of people at the time that I was working with, fellow accountants, they were just like, "Gosh, your personality doesn't go with... You're very bubbly outgoing person. And it doesn't really go with accounting." I started to think about it and I had a friend that was in pharmaceutical sales at that time and I went on a job shadow with them and I was like, "Gosh, this sounds pretty cool. I like it." It kept up with, I had to know numbers. So there was a little bit of thinking involved in it, business analysis, which I did on a daily basis, but I got to interact with people and so I jumped into that business 18 years ago, selling, launching different products. I think I'd launched different products across different therapeutic areas. And a new after, I don't know, after about 10 or 15 years, I was just like, "Gosh, this is getting really boring, mundane, there's got to be something else out there." And I just didn't know what that was. And I was right in the thicker throws of where my kids were in elementary and middle school. And so I just kept working and raising a family and paying the bills. But I knew there was a burning thing where I wanted to do something different. And I didn't know exactly what that was.

Scott Anthony Barlow 05:41

Let me ask you about that. I think what's really interesting to me is I heard you use the same verbiage to apply the first time when you went from accounting, you had this feeling of "Hey, there's got to be something else out there." And then as you started to get bored later on, you had that same, sort of, or at least used the same sort of verbiage to apply to it. So what was different for you the first time you felt that, versus this much more recent time, what was the same, what was different?

Scott Ingham 06:10

I think there was, I had a lot of experience underneath my belt. So I kind of knew what I didn't want. So I knew I didn't want to go back into the accounting field. I knew I didn't want to be stuck in a cubicle all day. I wanted the ability to work out of the house, but then also go and visit clients or customers, being able to help people. And the job I was doing for 18 years, while we were launching products and calling on different customers, it was exciting. But then after a while it was the same thing over and over again with that customer.

Scott Anthony Barlow 06:49

When you say the same thing over and over again, is that the part that started to get boring for you? Or was it something else?

Scott Ingham 06:56

Yeah, it started to become really the same thing day in and day out. And so I had friends that were in the business and they wouldn't move every few years. And I was always kind of wondering how they just kind of kept up that level of energy. And it's because they just kept changing the therapeutic areas that they were in. And they were learning new products every time. So they were challenging themselves. So it started to become less challenging as time went on.

Scott Anthony Barlow 07:26

I think that's such an important thing that honestly doesn't really get talked about very frequently. At least not in the media, and certainly not in, shoot, even we, we don't talk about it that often in our own podcasts. And that's a big part of what we find behind the scenes as we're working with people where, you know, wow, this has become less challenging in the ways that have been good for me in the past. And now that that's gone, it dissolved some of the good parts about the opportunity.

Scott Ingham 08:01

Yeah, it really does. I think that stigma is still out there. Where like, when I left my accounting job, that company at that time was a very sought after job. And most people that started in there, they started and they put their 30 years in, and then they were done and they walked out the door. And I wasn't like that. I think a lot of people were like thinking I was crazy, because I left and I totally did 180 and changed industries, I mean, something totally different than my career. And then I started this and the same thing happened after putting 18 years into my previous company. And telling people... I laughed, they thought I was kidding when I was saying I was leaving and starting. It was interesting, because most of the responses I got where people were making excuses for why they were staying in the role they were staying, which indicated to me that they were unhappy with what they're doing, unwilling to make that change. And so it does take a lot of effort to do that. There's no doubt about that.

Scott Anthony Barlow 09:14

Fascinating that you bring that up. I want to ask you about that for just a second because I found that in other areas too, where you sharing something like that, because it's the latest news, "Hey, I'm no longer going to be here and I'm moving on to something else" and sharing that and people are interpreting it through their lens, their personal lens, and how they respond indicates sometimes very clearly how they feel about that or how they think that they should feel about that too. Here's the question I have for you. When you would encounter that and it sounds like you encountered it much more than once, what advice would you give to somebody who is making a change that is seeing those types of responses and they're experiencing those? Because sometimes it doesn't feel that great to be in those conversations.

Scott Ingham 10:07

No, it doesn't. It makes you really like second guessed yourself. When I first made that change, I think I was in my early 20s. I didn't really care what people thought of me and I just went and did it. As I got older, more mature, I'm like, it made me really second guess myself in what I'm doing, but working with Phillip, and through that process, he kind of, like, retrained my brain into saying, like, "This is your path, that your path is super unique. And who cares what anyone else is saying. Like, people change at all different points and stages in their lives for their own reasons." I guess that's part one. The part two is really validated that what I was doing was, to me, the correct thing, because in the back of my mind, I was always like, "I need to make this change, I need to make it and that I didn't want to be that person making excuses just to make it to the end of the finish line whenever that would be." I didn't want to go down like that. I wanted to be swinging and make that change. I did not want to exit out of whatever working years I have left and second guess myself and be like, "Why didn't I make that change?"

Scott Anthony Barlow 11:23

So that's interesting. It sounds like at some point along the way, it became a point of validation or a "Yup, this is working" for you, as you would hear those types of responses.

Scott Ingham 11:34

Yeah, it really does. And part of the career process, when we're going out and we're interviewing, you know, doing like, not mock interviews, I was information gathering and stuff, I still got that. A lot of people are like, "You're really leaving after that much time there?" But then other people, it was a very few minority, were cheering me on to say, "That's awesome, you're doing that." And then they would share a little bit about what they do.

Scott Anthony Barlow 12:02

Well, let's go back and let's talk about that here for just a couple of minutes. So what happened along the way that finally prompted you to say, "Nope, this must happen. This has to happen. I'm committing to making this change for me, for myself."

Scott Ingham 12:20

I think I just got finally sick and tired of dragging my feet. And there was really a point in time, you know, a specific moment, I think I just was like, "I got to do this. It's either now or never to do this. And whatever happens, happens. And we'll go from there." But I, at least, wanted to go down trying. I think many of us out there who are not happy with our jobs, and it's so much easier just to continue doing what we're doing versus this is the big scary thing. And I dragged this process on longer than it really shouldn't happen. And to be honest, I should have done it a long time ago, I dragged my feet, but I'm an overthinker.

Scott Anthony Barlow 13:06

That's fair. You're in good company, myself included. So let's talk about that clarity and how that happened. When you think about it, you know, once you made the decision to "Hey, I'm going through the career change process, I need to do this for myself." What were some of the most challenging parts for you?

Scott Ingham 13:26

For me, it was, I'll be honest, it was the time management of it, because I was working quite a few hours at work, obviously, family obligations. So I sat down with Phillip and we did this schedule, it was really blocking off time. One of the things I had to readjust as my mind set on that, I thought I had to spend these huge blocks of time in order to get stuff done versus getting up, you know, half hour early in the morning, and doing 45 minutes before I went to work. And then in the evening doing 45 minutes then versus "Oh, I need to spend two and a half hours every day at night." And that's just not the case. It was just taking little chunks of time. And so that's the process for me. It might have been a little bit longer than what others encountered and everyone's different.

Scott Anthony Barlow 14:22

How did you make those small chunks of time work for you? I found it slightly different for everyone in terms of what they're going through– what time availability they already have, what time they need to make a wonderful career change for themselves. But it also almost requires different ways to make it work for you. So what did you find, allowed you to make those small chunks work?

Scott Ingham 14:47

It was really setting that time aside and having the outline for what we mutually decided on what was going to be accomplished by the next time we met. So that it looks inundated at first when you first get into it, but that's what helped me out a lot in really prioritizing, like, I shut off my phone, there was no disturbances at all, I made sure that if that was going to be 45 minutes, I was going to be 45 minutes of uninterrupted time. And that was something where, my wife and I, we kind of looked at the schedule for the week, and she would have to take the kids to certain things for me, in order for me to have that time to work on it. And since being a family guy, and I'm always involved in my family's activities, there were some times where I had to switch stuff around, if, like, a sporting event got changed and I had to be flexible with it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 15:45

What kind of conversations were you and your wife having about that, about like the time that it's going to take?

Scott Ingham 15:51

I think we were, she was all into this process, because she saw firsthand how, like, miserable I was up through. And she was actually one that kind of also pushed me off that ledge to finally make the decision. But I think the conversations were, "who's going to do what, carry what responsibilities for the week", and what activities were I am going to give up. And she's kind of like picked up and then vice versa. Because I didn't want to, I knew this was going to be a time consuming process and going to be over in a few months. And so we had to both be in agreement of how much she could take on with her job because we both work, and what activities that I was going to give up in order to do it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 16:36

I think that's something that a lot of people don't think about when they're thinking about making a career change, is how to, you said gain agreement, I would go even a step further and say that part of what you were doing was setting the other people up in your life that also needs to be invested in this up for success so that they could, in fact, support the process. Having gone through that, and having semi recently completed that career change process for yourself, what advice would you give to other people about how to get others on board and how to help them successfully support you?

Scott Ingham 17:16

My wife and I had a specified time that we sat down. And we would basically plan out our schedule for the week. And we didn't ever did for like two weeks or a month or anything like that. We were only looking at the week ahead. And we would sit down on a Sunday morning and plan out what I'm going to be doing and where the time is going to be needed to do this process.

Scott Anthony Barlow 17:41

Because that's something that you did prior to this, had you and your wife ever sat down on a regular basis like that, or was that specifically for?

Scott Ingham 17:49

That's a great question. Yeah, it was more of like, no, we did not, to answer it. So this was something that actually was really good for us moving forward to even after this process is that it was more haphazard of who's going to take someone were, to what sporting event and stuff like that, it was more of, maybe, like reactive, and if we can fit it in, we'll fit it in, and if not, not. So we definitely... It started for us to plan out our time better. And at the beginning of this whole process is interesting, I filled out the schedule, and I did it and then it didn't work. And so I sat down with Phillip and he really helped me coach through it and really how to utilize that schedule to the best and to bring my wife into the process of it. And that made things a lot smoother. I think if anyone is going to do this, that's the first piece that you need to get right in order to have long term success with it. Because if you don't do that piece right off the bat, then it's gonna be a struggle, it's going to be hard to do it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 19:05

Gotta get the other people in your life on board and on the same page.

Scott Ingham 19:08

It's a great tool to have and we're definitely continuing to utilize it. That makes life so much easier.

Scott Anthony Barlow 19:16

Totally different train of thought here, totally different question. This idea that once you get so old, that you can't change, it's game over like... Talk to me a little bit about what you came into this thinking about as it related to age and then how your thinking evolved along the way.

Scott Ingham 19:39

Yeah, so when I first came in my thought process was that I had X amount of runway left in that. Whatever change I made, I need to make it the right one and the very last one. I was like putting my little go in the sand, creating that line saying "I gotta make it by X amount of time, and it's got to be perfect." That is the wrong way to think. And I think I was carrying on the old mentality of, you don't switch jobs, you know very much unless you maybe get realigned out the door. And so I carried that kind of with me at the beginning of this process. And that is the wrong way to think. Now, is it everyone that's doing it out in society? I don't know, I think there's more people than what I knew that were making these career changes later in life. And some of them were making complete career pivots, which was reassuring to me. And that slowly helped me change my mind. And there were different modules through the course too, where you write out your skill sets, and I thought, "wait a second, these skills can be transferred anywhere."

Scott Anthony Barlow 20:54

It's crazy.

Scott Ingham 20:55

It's absolutely crazy. I'm like, "I thought I was like a one trick pony. I'm like, I have a lot of skills that can be utilized with a finance background and in a sales background and in helping build a sales team." So I was like "I could do a lot of different things that were out there." So that really changed my perspective on how I can make a career change later in life.

Scott Anthony Barlow 21:21

With that different line of thinking, how did that change or impact your change process?

Scott Ingham 21:28

Yeah, it added fuel to it. And it gave me hope that I could actually do something after being stuck in a career for 18 years, that I actually could look at different industries, different careers and actually apply to those jobs. So it opened my eyes that there's more opportunities than what I thought, because prior to going through Happen To Your Career, I tried to do that on my own. And I did one of the worst things you could probably do is come through LinkedIn and look at job titles and descriptions and stuff. And that was probably the worst thing to do. Because it created more confusion and created a lot of disappointment. Because everything I read, I was like, "Oh, I'm not qualified for that." I'm not qualified for that.

Scott Anthony Barlow 22:17

Well, if the goal is to be confused, and depressed, it's highly effective.

Scott Ingham 22:23

It was.

Scott Anthony Barlow 22:24

So in every single person's process, we acknowledge all the time on the show that it's different. It's very different from one person to the next. The milestones are similar, but it's very different in actuality for what one person is doing, and what works for one person compared to the next. So my question is, when you look back on this process, and you said, "here are the few things that worked really well for me," what were those? And take me through some of them, take me through the nitty gritty on some of those pieces.

Scott Ingham 22:54

Well, I think one of the processes was basically writing down what I thought I was good at diving deep into that. And obviously utilizing StrengthsFinder and that opened up my eyes with it. I feel like by having Phillip there with me, in going through the material, and having him as a coach, he really opened up my eyes on just the hope that I could actually do something different than what I'm doing. Or maybe I could do the same thing, but just in a different therapeutic area. And so he kind of gave me the, I guess, the courage to, in the competence, that's more appropriate word, that I can make this change happen.

Scott Anthony Barlow 23:44

How did all of the pieces that we've talked about now, because we've covered some really wonderful parts in terms of breaking down the skills and experiences, understanding your strengths, being able to reframe how you thought about what was possible for you working with another person, like a coach, all of these parts added up, for sure. But the other piece that we haven't talked about is, what are the other steps that lead up to you being able to accept this new opportunity that you're in now?

Scott Ingham 24:17

Yeah, I think it was in the reaching out phase. And that was another challenge for me because I kind of had to set my ego aside a little bit and reach out to people and ask them what they did during these, like, informal interviews. And I felt like a little bit like, "gosh, I've been in this industry and I'm doing this and I'm going to change now" and after I did it one, two times, I started to do it like crazy and people at the gym, be like "hey, can I buy you a cup of coffee and just kind of curious I'm in the middle of career transition, just kind of curious what you do." And people were surprisingly willing to do that and take 5-10 minutes out of their time. And letting people know and talking to people about what I was doing, led me to where I'm at now, because it was someone where that knew someone that was hiring for this role. It's still in the medical industry, it's just a totally different therapeutic area, a lot smaller company, a lot less red tape, and people know you. And so I was basically just doing an interview, and just kind of practicing and just kind of getting to know the company a little bit. And know that position and one interview led to the next, then led to the next. And I think my ability to just be curious about the position, and obviously my skill set that sometimes I feel like doesn't have a lot of weight, had a lot of weight with this particular spot. And so I was awarded this spot where there was people with many, many, many more years of experience than what I had in this certain area that didn't get awarded the position.

Scott Anthony Barlow 26:15

After now being there, and being able to interact with the people that made the choice to bring you on board, what do you believe were the differences why they chose to hire you, versus potentially those other people with, as you said, much more experience?

Scott Ingham 26:33

I think what it was when one of the exercises, I don't remember which one it was, where writing down exactly what I want, almost like, it was like the ideal career day. There were bits and pieces that came out of that. And I think they were kind of shocked that, you know, this is what I'm looking for. And not like I was just a person begging for the job or answering all the questions the way that they wanted. That was just like, "This is what I'm looking for, in a position, in a company culture." And I honestly think that was what sealed it for me.

Scott Anthony Barlow 27:10

I have my own opinions and ideas about why that is so effective. But I'm curious what you think, after going through it and seeing that in action, why do you think that that was so effective? Where it is almost the reverse of what many of us think in so many different ways, where it's like, "Nope, here's what I'm looking for" and that almost every time is far more effective is what we've experienced. But why do you observe that that is at least for you?

Scott Ingham 27:40

I think for me, it was because there's a lot of people out there that are interviewing totally differently and are looking for positions totally different than how I was looking for it. And just being upfront and honest with them, they were, I think, kinda not shocked but pleasantly happy. And that I was really talking from the heart with it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 28:03

If I'm not mistaken, you did a really nice job on the compensation side, too.

Scott Ingham 28:08

Yeah, it was a considerable amount. It was enough to where it made the decision even more, I guess, easier to make when my other company came back and wasn't even in the ballpark. So I was blown away. Actually, I wasn't expecting it. So right there, I felt like I was valued for what I was bringing to the table right off the bat.

Scott Anthony Barlow 28:34

Yeah, that was fascinating to me. You talked about being valued. Obviously, from the compensation side, before you even came to the organization, it was clear that there was going to be a variety of different types of value. And then also, you talked about being heard. And I think what was interesting, as you describe that interview process are the interactions that you had beforehand, it was clear that they were hearing you even before you ever worked there.

Scott Ingham 29:03

Yeah, it definitely was just the way that the interviews were just down to earth, genuine conversations, and they really wanted to hear my opinions on certain ways to handle accounts, and they seem genuinely interested in it, and they are. And it's been an awesome experience so far.

Scott Anthony Barlow 29:21

That is so cool. That makes me really, really happy. Is there anything else that you wanted to say or hoped that you could say, but we haven't covered yet?

Scott Ingham 29:29

I mean, the number one thing if anyone's really thinking about doing this is to give it a try and do it. You'd be pleasantly happy. Is it going to be a lot of work? Yeah. But to make changes whether you're later in your career, early in your career journey, everything is going to take a little bit of work, but it's so worth it because even if I decide to make another career change after this, I have really set the foundation worked up. I know with everything that I've gone through, it set me up where if I want to pivot again, I can do it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 30:04

Hey, there's something I want to let you know. The seemingly impossible career change stories that you hear on the podcast are actually from people just like you who are listening to this podcast and decided to take action and have a conversation with our team. If you want to implement what you heard, and you want to completely change your life and your career, then let's figure out how we can help. Here's what I would suggest, just take your phone right now, open it up, go to your email app, and type me an email, Scott@happentoyourcareer.com. Just put 'Conversation' in the subject line. And when you do that, I'll introduce you to the right person on our team and you can have a conversation with us. We'll try and understand your goals and what you want to accomplish in your career no matter where you're at. And we can figure out the very best way that we can help you and support you in your situation. So open that up right now and send me an email with 'Conversation' in the subject line to Scott@happentoyourcareer.com.

Scott Anthony Barlow 31:05

Here's a sneak peek into what we have coming up in store for you next week.

Speaker 3 31:10

Everyone you meet everywhere, their favorite question to ask a teenager is "So what do you want to do after high school? What kind of job do you want to go into? Like what are your plans for the future?" It's like, I don't know. I can barely remember what I had for breakfast this morning. How am I supposed to plan the next five years of my life?

Scott Anthony Barlow 31:30

Everything we do here at HTYC can be boiled down to one simple statement. Some companies call this their mission, but we prefer to call it our "Why-statement." Because it really is our "Why"– “Why we do everything we do.”, “Why the company exists at all.”

Scott Anthony Barlow 31:49

All that and plenty more next week right here on Happen To Your Career. Make sure that you don't miss it. And if you haven't already, click Subscribe on your podcast player so that you can download this podcast in your sleep, and you get it automatically, even the bonus episodes every single week, sometimes multiple times a week. Until next week. Adios. I'm out.

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