Making a career change at 40 may sound like a crazy idea, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find that more and more people are starting new careers at 40. And contrary to popular belief, they’re succeeding. Do you want to do the same, but fear that 40 is too old to change careers? We’ve helped many women make the change and in this article, we’re sharing exactly how to change careers at 40.
How to change careers at 40
Changing careers is a big deal at any age, but it can feel astronomical once you hit middle age. If you’ve been in one career all your life, by 40, you’re likely to be in a senior position with a healthy salary and lots of experience under your belt. Losing all of that by starting a new career can be hard to deal with – both practically and emotionally.
That’s why you must do the following three things before embarking on a career change.
Figure out what you want to do
Get clear on what you want to do and test-drive it before committing to it. While we like to say that it’s never too late to start again, we also appreciate that sometimes, that’s easier said than done. At 40, it’s common to feel like time is not on your side and that you need to pick the ‘right’ career this time around. There’s no guarantee that any career will turn out how you want it to, but you can increase your chances of success by trying out your new career idea before quitting your job, retraining or making any other big changes.
Work out how to enter a new industry
Work out how you’ll enter a new career, job or industry. You’ll need to know how long it takes most people to get to the level you want to be at and how much you’re likely to be paid at each stage of the ladder. Once you have this information, you can plan for your career change and make sure you have enough money to live on while you make the change. One of the most common reasons people abandon a career change halfway (or don’t make a change at all) is being unable to deal with a loss of income. Minimise your chances of this by planning and saving enough money to leave your job ahead of time.
At 40, it’s common to feel like time is not on your side and that you need to pick the ‘right’ career this time around.
Remember that no-one cares as much as you think they do
Remind yourself daily that no one is thinking about you as much as you think they are. “What will people think?” is a common recurring thought in a career changer’s mind. After all, no one wants to look like they can’t hack a certain career or like they’re having a mid-life crisis. The truth is that while some people will have an opinion about your career change, none of them will lose sleep if you decide to do what makes you happy (they are all far too busy worrying about their own lives to care that much about yours). Even those who go out of their way to warn you about what a terrible mistake you’re making, are usually reflecting their own fears and insecurities onto you. Don’t stay stuck in a job you hate out of fear of what others will think.
The advantages of changing careers in your 40s
It’s easy to focus on the negatives that are associated with changing careers later in life, but there are lots of advantages that come with waiting until your 40s to start a new career. A big advantage is your confidence level. After being in the workforce for two decades, most 40 somethings have a level of confidence that most 20 and 30 somethings would kill for. It comes from having lots of life ecperience and professional experience. Confidence can make all the difference when starting a new career.
Another advantage of changing careers at 40 is that you’ve still got enough time to enjoy a long career in your new industry. Most of us are expected to retire at 66, which means that even if you change careers at 45, you still have 20+ good working years ahead of you.
Finally, at 40, you have an abundance of transferable skills that younger workers simply don’t have. From strong communication skills to teamwork, leadership, initiative and adaptability, we’re willing to bet that you have more going for you than you realise. Stop focusing on obstacles and start paying attention to the impressive skill set you have.
The disadvantages of changing careers in your 40s
We won’t lie to you and claim that changing careers at 40 is easy. It isn’t. The main disadvantages of changing careers later in life relate to money and ego. By 40, many people have big financial responsibilities, such as a mortgage, children and loan repayments. These responsibilities can pile on the pressure to succeed quickly in a new industry. They can also make it impractical to start a new career that requires taking a huge pay cut.
Similarly, if you’ve paid your dues and climbed the career ladder to reach a senior position in your 40s, returning to the bottom of the career ladder and becoming a beginner again can be a bitter pill to swallow. The good news is that 70% of the battle is in your mind. As we mentioned earlier, no one is judging you as much as think they are, so give yourself a break. It’s OK to start your career again at 40.
After being in the workforce for two decades, most 40 somethings have a level of confidence that most 20 and 30 somethings would kill for. It comes from having lots of life and professional experience.
How to change careers at 40 with no experience
If you’ve gained a lot of experience in your previous career, it’s very possible to change careers without having to go back to the bottom of the career ladder. For example, you can leverage the relationships you have developed in your current job and use them to change careers within your current company. Alternatively, you can build up experience by setting up a side hustle alongside your current job. Take a look at this article on how to get an employer to hire you for a job you have no real experience of doing for more ideas on how to start a new career with no experience.
Best career change jobs at 40
It’s easy to feel like your options are limited if you want to start a new career in your 40s, but that’s not true! There are lots of careers you can start later in life and thrive in. Would you like to know the best career change jobs for people in their 40s? The truth is that there are lots. Trying to name them all here would be a huge task.
It may sound like a platitude, but we really believe that you can do whatever job you want to do at any age. We personally love this story of a stay-at-home mother who became a journalist at the Spectator magazine at the age of 48 And let’s not forget that bridal gown designer Vera Wang changed careers from journalism to fashion design at 40. If they did it, so can you!
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