Should You Even Consider a Career Change at 40?

Career Change at 40Career decisions are tough when you’re 18 and about to launch your life but now that you’re “of a certain age” the prospects of changing careers can feel daunting. If you’re staring at the possibility of making a career change at 40 or older and you get the same feeling when thinking of jumping out of a plane – you’re not alone! Yet, you know you’d be happier if you were doing something else. It’s a strange mix of feelings and there is a reason why you are feeling this way and things you can do.

Why do you have these mixed feelings about a career change at 40?

  • Change has mixed feelings, the most dominate being anxiety and fear. Change causes a certain level of discomfort and we really hate to feel uncomfortable. We can also feel fear, particularly with a career change which comes from the idea that you don’t know what might be ahead for you. You might dislike the new career or it could impact your life in other unknown ways.
  • At the same time, because of the age and experience, we have more to lose. Our life, however it is composed, is something we have worked hard to achieve. It is largely shaped by the course of our current career. We now have more things in life to lose if this change goes bad. Yet, we have a better understanding of ourselves. All this experience has served to help us know what we do and don’t like, our values and other factors that drive our decision to make a career change. It’s good to understand what makes us tick.

What do you need to do to reduce the anxiety about this career change at 40 and figure out your next career?

  • Make a specific list of issues. Fear will often shrink or disappear under the light of good logic and focus. If you can list out your fears, you can do the work to investigate and therefore, reduce the effects of what might be at the heart of your concerns.
  • Figuring out your next career requires think time and research. You will not have a brilliant “AHA” moment most likely without doing some discovery work. You need to think through what is important in your next career. You need to understand yourself which will be more than simply taking an assessment.

Assessments are good but you need more than an assessment to tell you about yourself. Here are ideas for moving you forward in this important decision:

  • Tap into various career experts and books on the subject of career change and career change at 40. Each one has an interesting approach to help you so look into more than just one person. You will learn some new things about yourself with each approach.
  • Figure out what you want to take with you. By now, you have amassed considerable transferable skills. Some skills you probably enjoy and wouldn’t mind using in a new setting.
  • Talk to people about their careers. You will be shocked at how much you can learn about yourself and what the possibilities might be when you ask people more details about what they do. Even if you outright dislike what you hear, that is still great information for you as it gives you more insight about careers that are out there.
  • Check out and study various careers in things like the Occupational Outlook (Google this). It is a great compilation of information about all types of careers. You may discover careers that will capture your skills and interest that you never knew existed.

Some of greatest leaders of business didn’t begin the career that catapulted them until much later in life. Just because you are over 40 does not mean you are now stuck until you retire. You are only limited by your belief about what’s possible and a little effort.

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