In our society, we are fed the narrative that it is never too late to do anything, and we see this in many TV shows and books where older main characters are given a new lease on life. On the other hand, societal pressures pressurise us to stay within our chosen field and not make any rash decisions about our career as it could all end in disaster.
In this day and age, with technology moving at the exponential speed in which it is, most of us will experience multiple career changes in our lifetimes. It is important to keep up with the times and be flexible and adaptable in order to obtain some sort of success.
Whether you are a business owner, freelancer, tradesman, intellectual, or professional, there may come a time in your life when you feel the need to completely change your career at 40 or older.
In this article, we look at some of the reasons why people change careers, at what age is considered too old, and some of the factors that you should take into consideration when it comes to career changes.
When you have put a lot of effort into climbing up the corporate ladder or becoming a master in your field, it can seem counterintuitive to give that all up for a brand new career. But there are actually many reasons why people of all ages make major career changes. Some of these reasons include:
Perhaps you have reached the pay threshold in your chosen career. In most industries, there is usually only a certain amount that you can make, no matter how much effort you put into your work and developing your skills.
Life is very expensive, and it is only natural for individuals to leave their current careers in search of jobs that could potentially pay them more in the long run.
Some jobs are far more stressful than others. And stress can definitely take over your life and affect your mental health, physical health, and interpersonal relationships. A career in which you are overworked and have to work in fast-paced and high-stress environments can cause burnouts, which may force individuals to take a hard look at their career choices and how their career may be affecting them.
Sometimes people choose a career based on the pay, what their parents think they should do with their life, and societal pressures. While you need not always have a deep passion for the work that you do, having a job that you are passionate about can be deeply fulfilling. Some people crave this type of fulfilment and to have a job that they are excited about going to each day.
Changing jobs to fulfil one’s true passion is definitely a common theme when it comes to career changes.
Certain industries are on their way out, and there is just not as much money in certain industries as there once was. Just look at what COVID-19 has done to the travel industry. Many travel agents worldwide are currently looking to change their careers. Not because they don’t have a passion for what they do, but because the sad reality is that their industry is simply not thriving as it once was.
The upside to this is that if the travel industry did begin to boom once more, former travel agents could most likely return to their careers.
There are some jobs that are very dependent on youth. These are jobs such as professional sportsmen, models, and jobs that require high levels of physical activity. When you reach a certain age in these industries, you may need to start searching for alternative options.
It is approximated that most people that make significant career changes do so when they are approximately 33 years old. By this time, people may have realised that the industry that they are in doesn’t really suit them, doesn’t pay enough, or doesn’t fit their lifestyle anymore.
That being said, a career change in your 40s is also very common. It is sometimes referred to as the infamous ‘midlife crisis’, but it can go much deeper than that. As humans, we are always growing and changing, and some of us may only be discovering ourselves and our true wants and desires at the age of 40 and sometimes even later in life. More and more people are able to make career changes at an older age thanks to the accessible and affordable online resources available in the modern age.
It doesn’t matter when most people change their careers; what matters is when you are ready to, or if you feel the need to at all.
Making a career change is quite a big decision, especially if you are someone who is older. Some of the factors that you should consider when making a career change include:
Let’s say that you want to become a fighter jet pilot as your career change. Are there currently any jobs going in this industry? Do you meet the physical requirements? It’s important to be realistic when looking at the possibilities of you getting your dream job, especially if you are older. Sometimes you may need to come up with some sort of compromise.
Remember that when you start a new career, you often start from scratch (unless you already do possess some valuable industry experience, etc). Starting from scratch can be very difficult and challenging, and you’ll be the new kid on the block once again. Of course, this can also be very exciting, and the idea of a clean slate in a new industry can be very appealing to many.
While this should not be a problem, it should be something that you should think about. In your new career, you’ll most likely be starting from the bottom, and the chances of you having a boss that is fairly younger than you are quite high. How do you think these dynamics would play out? Is this something that you’d be comfortable with?
Have you thought about whether you’ll need to further your education to get a job in the new career path that you have chosen? Start by looking at advertised jobs you may be interested in and note their requirements. While you may have some transferable skills from your previous career, you’re more than likely going to have to up your skillset and education to give yourself a real shot at your new job.
There will most likely be a transitional period of at least a few months between your careers. You don’t want to be stressing too much about money as this may force you to take up a job that you aren’t satisfied with and lead you away from your new career. You want to ensure that you have enough savings, or other ways of sustaining yourself, during this transitional period.
It may sound cliche but sometimes age is truly just a number, and you are really never too old to be trying new things, getting involved in new hobbies, making new friends, and starting a new career.
In fact, it is most likely not your actual age that may be holding you back from making that much-desired career change but the other things that often come with age, which include:
Try not to think of yourself as old if you are an older person looking to make a career change. If you want to change something in your life, it means that you are still young at heart.
Whatever the age you decide to change careers, this process can definitely be challenging! Here are some tips to make the process easier and ensure that you are prepared.
During your career, whatever it may be, you would have picked up a wide number of skills, especially if you’ve been in the working world for quite some time. Examine your already-acquired skills and determine which of these may help you in your career change and can be carried through into your new career.
When making a career change, it can often feel as if you are starting from scratch, but it’s important to remember that your existing skills have worth and can even be applied to various career fields.
What is the industry that you wish to enter into? It is essential that you do some market research and prepare yourself properly. The more you know about an industry before you take the leap to become part of it, the better. Displaying your knowledge will also be helpful in the interview process.
There is a lot of societal pressure to keep you in the same job your whole life and false beliefs that you cannot have a career change at 40 or even later in life. It can be difficult to let go of societal pressure and beliefs, but when you do, you’ll undoubtedly feel freer to go after what you want!
When making a career change, you want to be equipped with the necessary education to give you the greatest chance of success in your new chosen field. This may mean having to take a few online courses, or it could mean as much as having to go back to university for a particular qualification.
Understand that there will be a transitional period between your current job and your next one. There may be a time that you are not making any income and may have to dig into your savings to see you through. It is exceptionally important to budget correctly during this time, especially if you have dependents.
This may be an incredibly stressful time for you, so it is important that you speak to trusted family members and friends for support. Understand that not everybody may support your decision to change careers at a later age. Some people are very set in their ways. But you should find that the support you get from your family and friends makes the entire process so much easier.
A career change is a very big decision that you should not rush. Sometimes you know you want a change but you’re not sure what type of change exactly! In these cases, you may need to take some time to explore the opportunities that you have available to you and rediscover some of your passions. It’s important to have a positive outlook on this transitional period instead of persecuting yourself for wanting to make the change.
Most workers have a transitional period of around 11 months when making an important career change, so don’t rush the process!
Source: Sebastian Duncan, Real Business