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Q: Dear Marcus, I am a 47-year-old wife and mother of three. Two of my boys are in college, and my third is a junior in high school. My husband has always earned enough money to support our family and is happy to have me home to take care of us. But I am afraid that when all my children are away I will be left unfulfilled. I'd like to work, but I don't have an idea about what I am qualified to do. I do not have a college education and I have not worked in 24 years. When I did work, I was counseling teenage mothers on how to feed themselves and their babies properly. I'd enjoy doing something similar, but I'm afraid positions like that require an college education now. What kinds of jobs are available to a woman in my situation?

— Darlene, age 47

Darlene, too many times, we find obstacles in our way without realizing that we ourselves have placed them there. You may be jumping to conclusions about what you need without doing the research to know for sure. Don't let your fear that you're underqualified prevent you from finding out exactly what the qualifications are to do what you want. Certainty is the antidote to fear. Most importantly, you must get an objective and accurate assessment of your situation and see things as they truly are—not better than they are, and certainly not worse than they are. It may be that you need to take courses or get some training to pursue your career. Know that there are many, many people in your situation who have gone back to college and gotten the training they need to pursue their goals.

You have the great advantage of not only knowing what you want to do, but also having experience in the field. You've done it before, and you can do it again.

You can also think about volunteering in some capacity related to your chosen field—not only is it a good way to add some recent dates to your résumé and make new connections, it's also a chance for you to get hands-on experience and explore whether what you want to do truly strengthens you.

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