Have you ever scheduled an interview, a date, or a meeting and needed to give yourself a pep talk before the big moment? You took a deep breath and swallowed hard, telling yourself, “I can do this.” Suddenly a wave of nervous energy crashed over you, and a familiar voice flooded your mind with doubt. “What if they don’t like me? I’m going to make a fool of myself. I can’t do this.” Then reluctantly, yet with a sense of relief, you canceled the event. By not overcoming shyness you have missed out on countless life experiences as well as business opportunities. You are not alone.
According to Dr. Bernardo J. Carducci, P.h.D., head of the Shyness Research Institute at Indiana University Southeast, about 40% of adults worldwide believe they are shy. And as a result, they are less likely to advance in their careers and not surprisingly, have fewer social connections. Does this scenario sound familiar?
Don’t Play Coy With Me!
At this point, you might be asking, “Was I born this way?” That’s a good question. While Scientists debate whether there’s a gene that causes shyness, Carducci does not believe people are born with it. He writes, “shyness is characterized by three major features: excessive self-consciousness, excessive negative self-evaluation, and excessive negative self-preoccupation. All three characteristic features of shyness involve a sense of self. And the sense of self does not develop until approximately 18 months of age.” And there doesn’t appear to be one single cause for this affliction either. Perhaps your shyness stems from your temperament, personality, upbringing or a combination of all three.
— Hannatu (@mamahannatu) December 2, 2016
Keep in mind; I am not referring to a social anxiety disorder. That’s significantly more serious than being bashful. If you hyperventilate or need to make a pitstop for adult diapers at the thought of attending a social or networking event, you should probably get some professional help. I battled both shyness and panic attacks in my life. And I assure you, they are completely different. You can read about my struggles here.
I’m not talking about introverts either. They feel comfortable spending time alone and prefer solitary activities. Timid people, however, long to interact and participate in activities and gatherings, but don’t feel capable. So, what’s the secret to overcoming shyness as a mature adult? You have probably tried to conquer it in the past or hoped to outgrow it by now, but shyness isn’t going away on its own. Perhaps the time is right to consider a few new resources.
Podcasts: Keep Calm And Listen On
I listen to several podcasts on varying topics each week. I find them to be educational and entertaining. Whether in my car, on the treadmill, or cleaning the house, hitting the play button on my phone makes these mundane tasks seem more enjoyable. Here are three highly rated podcasts that may help in overcoming shyness. You can find them on iTunes.
The Calm Living Blueprint, Candice Esposito
Shyness.com: Plant Food For Shrinking Violets
Shyness.com is a comprehensive catalog of resources for those seeking treatment for this problem. Sponsored by The Shyness Institute in Berkely, California, this website is packed with helpful information. You can find suggested books, research, therapists, training programs, meditations, and more. Dr. Lynne Henderson, P.h.D., is the director of this research facility. Listen her speak about shyness in the workplace in a fascinating radio interview here.
Hypnosis: You Are Getting Very Sleepy-
The fair-minded part of you may be intrigued by this potential remedy while your skeptical side may have a few doubts. As it turns out, clinical hypnosis, self-hypnosis, and sleep hypnosis have been used successfully to treat everything from shyness and anxiety to asthma and irritable bowel syndrome. Famous athletes and top business people have used this focused, guided imagery for years to enhance performance.
The British Medical Association has concluded that hypnotherapy is an effective treatment for phobias and anxiety-related issues. While it does not work for everyone, it may well be worth a try. The National Board for Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists can help you locate a professional near you.
Related Reading: Midlife Reinvention; Is it Time for a Professional Pivot?
It’s never too late. You don’t have to live your remaining years on the sideline and continue to miss out on social experiences and business opportunities. What have you got to lose? Overcoming shyness after age 40 is possible if you are willing to be open-minded and consider trying new techniques. Or, perhaps you have already conquered this demon. If you have, please help us all and share your secret in the comment section below.
Life is better when we lift each other up.
Want to know what’s wrong with most lists of midlife career change ideas? They SUCK! That’s right; I said it. That is unless you inherited a large sum of money, don’t need to rely on a realistic income or you relish the idea of starting a four-year degree program in your forties or fifties.
Many similar lists describe great, high paying positions requiring a bachelor’s or master’s degree or are full of jobs that almost anyone can qualify for, but the pay is lousy. My guess is, you have a pile of bills to pay. I understand. There’s a mortgage, car payment, food, medical insurance, and cell phone plan to contend with every month. Some midlifers are also footing the bill for their kids’ college tuition. Ouch!
So, let’s get real. In order for the majority of midlife career changes to be possible, they have to be long on financial rewards and short on educational requirements. Face it, if you’re reading this post, you’re no spring chicken. Sorry. Yet you still might be looking at over twenty years of full-time employment.
How do you make the most of the time you have left in the workforce and still make a decent wage? By choosing a new profession that pays at least $40,000 annually and won’t take more than two years of additional education to qualify for. That’s a tall order, but not impossible to fill. So, without further delay, here are my 11 midlife career change ideas:
1. Surgical Technologist:
Scrub techs, as they are sometimes called, prep patients and operating rooms for surgery. In addition, they sterilize instruments and supplies and hand them to surgeons during procedures. Obviously, to be a good candidate, the sight of blood shouldn’t make you light-headed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for this position is a surprising $44,330 and the job outlook for the next several years is good. Training programs of one or two years are available at community colleges and vocational schools. Learn more from the Association of Surgical Technologists.
2. Wind Turbine Service Technician:
You weren’t expecting that one, were you? With the expansion of the green energy industry, job openings for this position are on the rise. If you don’t mind working several hundred feet in the air in tight spaces, this could be the career for you. There are even offshore wind turbines to be fixed and maintained if that tickles your fancy. The typical annual salary for technicians is $51,050. An associate’s degree from a tech school or community college is required. Most companies will offer and require additional on-the-job training. For further information, go to WindTurbineTechnicians.net.
The fastest growing job in America is the wind turbine technician, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. pic.twitter.com/0xQSmcCPhw
— Electric Nation (@Electrc_Nation) November 25, 2016
3. Paralegal Assistant:
No, you won’t get to make objections in court or make an emotional closing argument to a jury as a PA. They work behind the scenes conducting interviews, drafting documents and verifying information for lawyers in their firm. While the legal field is not as glamorous or dramatic as shows like Law & Order would have you believe, this is a respectable position with a median pay of $48,810 . An associate’s degree or certificate in paralegal studies is required. ParalegalEDU.org has additional details on the courses and training you may need.
4. Licensed Practical Nurse:
LPNs usually work in hospitals and are supervised by registered nurses. Duties include taking vital signs, administering medications, changing dressings, and performing CPR in emergencies. Is it just me, or does this sound remarkably similar to the job description of a parent? Yes, but the pay is better. The median salary for an LPN is $43,170 per year but varies by region. Training programs at colleges take one or two years to complete and most states require licensure. Due to shortages in certain locations, employers may even offer a signing bonus, tuition reimbursement or other incentives. Get additional facts from the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses.
5. Computer User Support Specialist:
That title is a mouth full, don’t you think? Otherwise known as help desk technicians (HDTs), they troubleshoot and provide assistance to computer users, usually via phone or email. These specialists identify and solve hardware, software, and operating system problems for people within their company, clients or end users. HDTs are the techy super-heroes you call after banging your head on your keyboard in frustration. They make a good median salary of $51,470 per year. Education requirements vary widely. Many employers ask for a bachelor’s degree in computer science while others only require a two-year degree. For information on how to become a computer user support specialist, click here.
6. Social Media Manager:
Yes, you can earn a decent living by becoming media and tech savvy. That will be handy when you want to spy on your kid’s Instagram account. A thorough understanding of programs like PhotoShop and social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest is a must. Larger companies will require a bachelor’s degree in marketing or communications. However, some smaller businesses will accept a two-year degree. Classes can be taken to fill in any skills gaps you have. For a list of several certification courses, click here. Candidates with little experience or education should not expect to make the median salary of $47,190.