AARP AARP States Oregon Events

What's Next? Gen Expectation for Career Changes

Life Reimagined Graphic

By Michele Scheib, AARP Oregon Volunteer

Many of our parents tended to stay in their jobs throughout their careers. In contrast, changing jobs is becoming more second nature for Generation X workers. Our parents worry about the stability of our jobs, and though it concerns us (some having experienced recent layoffs or reduced hours/wages), we think more often about job stagnation. The people I’ve heard asking, “What’s next in my life?” are increasing all around me.

If not continually growing and learning, we feel as if we are limiting ourselves and future opportunities. Finding ways to branch out, whether combining our work and interests or seeking work we care about, is the unspoken way we measure up. A job change or some new challenge at work, with the same employer or not, seems the clearest proof of career growth for Generation X workers. More often, the moves we seek are lateral and not upward climbs.

Career specialization has made these changes harder. Many employers have reduced on-the-job training for candidates eager to learn a new position and, instead, post job openings with a long list of very specific skills and work experience.

Returning to school for education is one possible option, for those who can afford or are willing to take on the debt. Yet, an education does not guarantee a job. Finding a school that links employment and/or work experience opportunities post-graduation, gives more reassurance when reinventing oneself.

While life coaches are also a growing option for some, as we approach 50, there’s now also other resources that can help us look at the second half of our life – a new period of mid-life that, as we live longer, opens up another stage of possibilities. There are online and in-person opportunities to explore what’s next for a stay-at-home parent reemerging into the workforce, a person with an acquired disability transitioning to a new way of working, or even someone searching for a creative way to broaden an existing job. One option is

The generations before us have paved the way for Generation X by seeing a need at mid-life for second careers or setting up resources, such as AARP’s Life Reimagined, to guide us into our next chapter. It’s now up to us to see where we will take things next.

For those in Lane County, an AARP Life Reimagined Check-Up will happen from 12-2 pm on Tuesday, November 17 at the Downtown Athletic Club in Eugene, Oregon. Space is limited so register now at


Other useful resources,


About AARP Oregon
Contact information and more from your state office. Learn what we are doing to champion social change and help you live your best life.