Read on to learn why a successful career change at 40 is still possible, what challenges come your way, and how starting a business could be a viable option.
Thinking about making a midlife career change? You're not the only one. Plenty of famous people have found their greatest work later in life.
For example, Julia Child published her first cookbook at 50 after a career in advertising. Stan Lee, creator of Spiderman and other Marvel superheroes, didn't publish his first comic book until he was 39. And Henry Ford created his Model T at 45.
As long as you have the drive and ambition to push through, it's never too late to go after your dream career. Read on to learn why a successful career change at 40 is still possible, what challenges come your way, and how starting a business could be a viable option.
Going through a career transition at age 40 comes with obstacles. So you might wonder, is it too late to change careers?
The answer is no. On the contrary, you have assets that could work in your favor during your new job search. Let's dive into the reasons why there's still time to go after a second career.
Over the past decades, you've been able to build work experience and robust skill sets. Your transferable skills in leadership, communication, and adaptability can be useful in finding a new career.
For example, your leadership skills could potentially make you the perfect manager or business owner. You'll be able to lead a team of employees and empower them to do their best on the job.
Another great asset is your ability to communicate for different audiences. During your career, you've likely attended any number of meetings with various groups — maybe executive management, contractors, potential clients, or peers. The communication skills that helped you then will come in handy when you're networking for your new career.
Over the years, you may have worked with different companies or built connections with professionals in industries other than your own. Unlike someone who's just entered the workforce, you already have access to a reliable network of contacts that can help you find new opportunities.
A strong network is especially helpful if you're planning to start your own business. You can reach out for lead generation to find new clients or leverage your contacts to connect with a seasoned entrepreneur who can show you the ropes.
Plus, networking has never been easier thanks to social media. You can use LinkedIn to spread the word about yourself or your new business and get in touch with leaders in your new industry.
Thanks to the internet, there are plenty of resources readily available to help you explore a different career.
For example, mySkills myFuture, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, helps people find new career paths based on your past jobs and experience. The tool identifies career options that use similar skills you already have and provides information on what additional training you may need to get the job.
If you do need training, many of the courses you can take are also available online. They're typically less expensive — sometimes even free — compared to going back to school. Here are a couple of platforms to consider:
Deep down, you know it's time for a change. But for some reason, you still can't get yourself to take action.
So what's holding you back?
It's always intimidating to embark on something new — especially if you've been doing the same thing for decades. Below, we've identified the three most common fears blocking you from switching to your dream job:
When you think about the time you spent working your way up the career ladder, the bureaucracy you had to endure, the time spent away from friends and family. The money you invested in your education (let's not forget student loans), chances are, you will be tempted to keep the job you have.
But don't let the sunk cost fallacy trick you into giving up a chance at a happier and more fulfilling life. Besides, it doesn't make sense to live an unfulfilled life merely because of an investment you made in the past.
It is time to move forward with your life. And that starts with building up the courage to change your career.
As much as we don't want to admit it, peer pressure can get the best of us. You may fear the potential backlash from friends and family.
During this process, sit down with loved ones to discuss why this choice is important to you. Explain how taking on this new career path is the opportunity to bring more income, or pursue something you're truly passionate about.
This is a tale as old as time. Many career people are in jobs they hate. But if you ask them what they would prefer to do otherwise, they have no clue. If you fall under this category, realizing you need a career change might not be as exciting for you.
Think about it, you are in your 40s and have decided to pivot your career or start a new one. It’s human nature to experience significant self-doubt and anxiety. But, what if we told you it's all in your head? Remember, some of the most successful people discovered themselves later in life.
Finding a rewarding career should not be instantaneous. It is a process of discovery. Therefore, take your time and enjoy the journey despite the challenges you might face.
According to the US Census Bureau, the average age for retirement is 65 for men and 63 for women. Many 40-somethings worry about how switching careers could affect their retirement plans.
It's still possible to keep up with retirement savings while you hunt for a new career. The key is to plan ahead — you need to determine how long it's going to take to build this new career, and set up an emergency fund from there.
What matters is that you enjoy what you do. It's better to land a job you'll be passionate about than to push through a career you hate for 20 more years.
When switching careers, you're likely concerned about how your age may affect your options in the job market.
We often talk about gender and racial discrimination at work, but rarely do we discuss ageism. According to a 2019 study done by insurance company Hiscox, 44% of employees know someone who was discriminated against based on their age in the workplace.
While ageism does exist, it shouldn't be a reason to back down from finding your dream career in a new field. As a 40-something, you offer a depth of real-world experience that most young people lack.
You may have a family, mortgage payments, and other expenses. You may also have a lifestyle you are accustomed to, one you might not be willing to compromise. But this shouldn't bother you because you can continue earning as you work towards your next big career adventure.
For instance, consider staying at your current workplace as you work on new skills. Or take a part-time job to pay for expenses while working on your career change. Remember, you can balance your life through the transition.
It is not going to be easy, it might take a year or more before you determine what you want to do, and you will need immense courage to see the entire process through. Think about it: Once you realize you are emotionally checked out from your current job, you have to discover yourself, try a few ideas here and there, and find a way to keep making money before settling on what you love.
As such, think about the difficulties of staying in your current job. Are they tolerable? If you choose not to change your career now, will you regret your decision when you are 60? What benefits can you imagine will come from your career change if everything goes well?
Asking yourself these questions should help you further separate your fears from your motivational factors and finally help you focus on reinventing yourself.
The biggest challenge you might have at this point in your life is finding the right path. After all, you are 40, and investing blindly is not something you can afford anymore. As such, take some insight from the Ikigai concept.
Your perfect career combines your strengths, passion, and purpose. That is what you are good at, what excites you, and what aligns with your values, respectively. Also, consider the jobs that make sense at your age. This doesn't mean you should be closed-minded to specific ideas.
A good example is choosing to trade in the cryptocurrency and NFT space. Anyone can do it irrespective of age, which is the attitude you should have. Going back to school is also a plausible option. Your goals and background should also contribute to your final position.
Here are steps you can take to help you arrive at viable career options.
The fact that you've read this far means you've probably decided to make a career change. If you are still unsure, start to work on a mental shift. Here's how:
You are feeling unhappy at your current place of work. Therefore, start to condition your mind into believing that there is something better than what you currently have. This will put you in the right mind to think that you want something different. Once you get the proper determination for something new, start finding a new career.
Your mind is a powerful tool that can propel you from the wishing stage to the doing stage with practice. And once you are decided, putting in the work will be much easier. It is also imperative that you understand why you need a career change.
First, let go of any limiting beliefs you have about yourself. Even if you tried baking once and it backfired, don't tell yourself that you are not a baker because this limits your thinking. It also keeps you within the confines of your old identity.
This is precisely what you are trying to supersede by changing your career. So instead, start to work based on what you are good at and your values. Talk to people who love and care about you, like your spouse, parents, children, and friends.
Ask them what they think you are good at. Examples will help you put things into perspective. Look back and identify instances where you got accolades for anything. Write everything down. Then start to examine the information you have collected and look at the value you provided.
Can you see a pattern? At the very least, you should have an in-depth insight into your strengths.
With your newfound insights, start to experiment with different business ideas. Note every idea you come up with. Don't assume anything; the ridiculous ideas might turn into life-saving business opportunities.
Talk to your network and draw information and ideas from them. They might offer connections you didn't know you needed. Then start to connect an idea into practice experiments where possible.
For instance, if you realize you are passionate about healthy eating, start looking into organic foods and their science. Go to a nutritional facility and volunteer and experience what it is like to be a nutritionist. Visit an organic farm and learn how to use modern technology to make fresh organic products efficiently.
The more you conduct career experiments, the easier it becomes to eliminate ideas you are not passionate about. But as the list of ideas continues to reduce, start to strategize your career experiments.
For instance, set a timeline for each experiment, outline clear goals, and allocate resources. Include some rest time after one experiment before starting another, and use this time to reflect and learn about the business idea and how you fit into it.
If you find something you like about one job, follow the idea by experimenting some more. For example, being passionate about healthy living led us to nutritionists and organic farmers. These are two business ventures that serve the same purpose in different ways.
But you might find one that excites you more than the other. Suppose it is being a nutritionist. In that case, determine how to go back to school to be a nutritionist. Or work in the industry as a volunteer before making a concrete decision and continue learning about the role you want to play in the industry.
Self-improvement helps to qualify you for your new career. This means taking an internship at 40, no matter how daunting it is, because that is what your career requires. Take an entry-level job or a training course and invest in improvement constantly. The more you improve your skills, the higher your chances to get the job.
Get the proper support from role models, career coaches, advisors, and cheerleaders. Make time for these people in your life amidst all the chaos. They will hold your hand until you can stand on your own. However, ensure your support team is a group of people you trust.
Make time for new experiences and connections to help guide you into your new career because your current network might not be much help. Join groups of people making the same transition as you, talk to experts in your chosen career field, and take trips or new hobbies to expand your imagination and inspiration.
Prioritize reflection to ensure you fully understand all the information you collect about your new career path. Take a vacation, sleep properly, and take walks when you can. Make time to do nothing and observe whether you will get unexpected ideas and inspiration based on what you've learned. Embrace the changes that are coming into your life.
When it comes to changing careers, there are plenty of opportunities at your disposal. There's another career move, however, that presents an attractive opportunity — starting your own business.
Here are the reasons why starting a business could be part of your new career plan:
We often hear stories of the young entrepreneurs who drop out of college to pursue their dreams. But did you know older business owners may even be more likely to succeed?
A study by the Census Bureau, Kellogg School, and three MIT professors determined the optimal age for starting a business. During their research, they found that a business started by a 50-year-old entrepreneur is twice as likely to be successful as one built by a 30-year-old.
As we get stuck into the 9-to-5 routine, it's easy to forget about our personal life and health.
A perk of running a successful business is that you can make work-life balance a priority. You're the one who creates your schedule, including setting your hours and choosing the tasks you need to take on.
Building a business is hard work, but with the right mindset and attitude, it isn't out of reach. If you have a solid track record of achievements in your career, you can use the same discipline to launch a company.
It all comes down to finding a reliable model so you get on the path to profitability as quickly as possible. When you join Main Street, you gain access to our proven and tested playbook to generate earnings fast. Our team provides selected entrepreneurs with top-level training and cutting-edge technology to make sure they're on the right track.
First of all, give yourself credit. It's courageous to change directions mid-career. But by trying something new, you can find a role you'll be excited about.
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