Edit ModuleShow Tags

Midlife Career Changes


Published:

(page 1 of 3)

Barbara PentoneyBarbara Pentoney packed in a desk job, packed up a Miata and cast her future into a stream at Mammoth Lakes last summer.

The 35-year-old full-time paralegal at a downtown San Diego law firm was taking a big chance when she decided to become a full-time fly fishing instructor instead. She had no idea whether it would work out. She still doesn’t. But she’s willing to find out. She’s in the middle of changing careers.

“I thought maybe I’d take a few months off to see if this worked out,” Pentoney says. “But now I’m committed to making a full-time go of it.”

Jesse Johnson crouches next to a desk in his classroom at Lemon Grove Middle School, eye-level with a student trying to figure out the meaning of an Egyptian drawing. With his white brush-cut hair and smiling blue eyes, he looks like a man who’s spent a lifetime patiently pushing and prodding young people into adulthood. But at 52, Johnson has only been teaching for 10 years, after 20 years as a nondenominational minister.

“One of my big fears was that I was going to pull up to a stop sign one day and wonder what on earth I was doing—why did I think the grass was greener on the other side of the fence,” Johnson says. “I never have.”

His commitment and enthusiasm about his midlife career change led to his being named teacher of the year in his district last year and a finalist for San Diego County teacher of the year.

Bonnie Wright can relate to pulling off a rewarding change of life. She, too, dumped one career to do something else nearly 12 years ago. The Point Loma native went back to college at UCSD, graduated with a music degree, worked on a master’s degree in literature and now pursues her love of music and art through San Diego’s nonprofit Spruce Street Forum, a critically successful venue for experimental music and art, which she started on her own.

After nearly 25 years in sales of Levi’s and then real estate, Wright knows the grass is greener where she is today. “It was hard,” she says. “But I put one foot in front of the other, and I knew I wanted to do this with all my heart. Music was my passion, and I knew I no longer just wanted to be a member of the audience.”

If the experiences of these San Diegans sound familiar, you’re among an ever-growing number of people in their 30s, 40s and 50s who are exploring and often finding new careers—by choice or by necessity. There is no question the downsizing and layoffs of the new recession have hit a lot of midlife professionals hard. They have often had to make tough, sometimes ego-deflating decisions about what’s next in their working lives.

Wright, Johnson and Pentoney made their decisions voluntarily, but the lessons they learned apply to anyone who’s trying to decide what to do with the rest of his or her life. While career coaches, books, videos and Web sites abound with advice on how to make a switch, at least one psychologist says all the self-help books in the world won’t help you if you don’t know who you are.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

The Pet Lover's Guide to San Diego

Living your best San Diego life with your pet by your side just got easier

4 San Diego Chefs' Guide to Entertaining

Buzzy local chefs give us the scoop on hosting the ultimate dinner party, plus recipes for their impress-the-guests dishes

San Diego's Best Restaurants 2018

Dig into the 260 winners defining San Diego’s food scene in 2018
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Personal Stories are on Display at the Museum of Man's 'PostSecret'
    Frank Warren collects deep, dark secrets for this community arts project
  2. The Best Burgers in San Diego
    These burgers are food critic Troy Johnson's finalists for the best in San Diego
  3. The Best of North County 2018
    Our annual list of what we’re loving above the 56, from bites and brews to shopping, wellness, and arts and kids’ activities galore
  4. San Diego's Best Restaurants 2018
    Dig into the 260 winners defining San Diego’s food scene in 2018
  5. Your 2018 San Diego Summer Bucket List
    Here’s our insider’s guide for Memorial Day through Labor Day
  6. The Coolest Things Happening in San Diego Beer Right Now
    A dive into the new, notable, and lesser-known in our city’s beer scene
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Vote Now for Your Orangetheory Winner!

Winners will be announced at our Sweat event on May 12

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

AquaVie: 10 Reasons It’s Downtown’s Best Kept Secret

The best workout and spa getaway around? It’s actually right underneath your nose.

Enter a Drawing You Could Actually Win

There are more than 1,700 prizes in the Dream House Raffle
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags