Kiwi Mid-lifers Ring the Changes
A new book highlights a growing trend among Kiwi mid-lifers to change jobs rather than endure workplace misery, burn-out
You Don’t Make A Big Leap Without A Gulp features a range of Kiwis who’ve summoned the courage to make major mid-life
career changes. The book also offers practical advice and tips about how to go about such a transition.
Authors Michael Fitzsimons and Nigel Beckford say they were inspired to write the book after hearing horror stories from
fellow mid-lifers trapped in jobs they couldn’t wait to leave.
“By middle age, many Kiwis feel absolutely stuck in their jobs, trapped by family and financial commitments. We wanted
to show that there was a way out. People have more options than they think. We found plenty of American books about
these mid-life dilemmas, but none about Kiwis.”
Mike Fitzsimons says too many Kiwis endure work they don’t like or they’ve done for too long.
“According to recent workplace surveys,” he says, “only 17% of Kiwi workers feel any sense of connection to where they
work. Sixty-eight percent of us don’t rate our boss or the management and only 25% of us are actually happy in our jobs.
After a Christmas break, up to 1 in 14 of Kiwi workers visited an internet recruitment site to look at alternatives. You
can’t help but conclude that many of us are dissatisfied and restless at work.”
“These statistics are horrifying and yet we’ve come to accept them as inevitable – a painful dose of reality. The people
in our book illustrate that it doesn’t have to be this way. Mid-lifers have more options than they think. There’s a
definite trend among people in their 40s and 50s to make big career shifts,” says Beckford.
You Don’t Make A Big Leap Without A Gulp aims to provide mid-lifers with the inspiration and advice to reclaim their
lives. It covers the various aspects of deciding, researching and planning out a significant change in career.
“Our book is based on the practical wisdom of Kiwis who have successfully made such a change,” says Fitzsimons.
“It covers the risks and pitfalls as well as the benefits of making such a change. Many of the people in our book made
major sacrifices along the way, but none regretted their decision.”
The case studies featured include a corporate executive turned social worker, a publican turned university lecturer, a
builder turned fly-fishing guide and a teacher turned lawyer.
“These people all had the courage to follow their passions rather than their pensions. They realised they had another 20
to 30 years of working life ahead and decided to do something new and more fulfilling. Many had already enjoyed
successful careers, but they still decided to change,” says Fitzsimons.
“By mid-life many Kiwis are ready for a career change. It’s only natural that many of us will outgrow even the best
jobs,” says Beckford.
“However, admitting this sort of restlessness is almost a taboo subject in our workplaces and communities. People tend
to hide this anguish from even their family and friends.”
Fitzsimons says the book calls for a fundamental shift in thinking about career planning.
“The truth is this baby boomer generation are freer than any previous generation to make a transition. They are better
skilled, they are better off and they are going to live longer.”
“It simply doesn’t make sense for them to tread water until they retire – why not change?”
You Don’t Make a Big Leap Without a Gulp is on sale in bookshops, or buy online at www.fitzbeckpublishing.co.nz.