Changing Your Career Path in Your 40s

If you are reading this article, you are likely feeling unfulfilled in your current career. This could be a sign that it is time to start thinking about doing something new.  But if you are looking to change careers at 40 or later, starting over can be a daunting prospect. Can you change careers at 40? Of course you can! Changing careers at 40 or older is entirely possible, and can lead to a happier, more fulfilling life. Here are some things to consider if you are thinking about changing your career at age 40 or older. 

Evaluate your current career

What is it about your current job that you love? If the answer to that now is “nothing,” then think back in time – what made you interested in it in the first place? What drew you to that field and what did you enjoy about it when you started? Similarly, look at the reasons you are unsatisfied.  Is it the type of work, or the hours? Do you feel like you lack a sense of purpose, or that you were meant to be doing something different? Make a list of your likes and dislikes in your current career.  That can help guide you as you consider options for your career change in your 40s. 

Identify your fears – and reframe them 

The concept of reframing can be a helpful tool in allowing you to move past the fears you may have about changing your career in your 40s.  First, identify any fears or negative thoughts you have about a career change.  Maybe you are scared of starting over. Maybe you think you are too old to learn something new.  Perhaps it’s a fear of uncertainty surrounding finances.  Once you’ve identified your fears, think about how to reframe them in a positive light.  For example, instead of thinking of it as starting over, think about it as a chance to finally follow your dreams.  Rather than painting yourself as too old to learn something new, remind yourself that learning is a lifelong process with no age limit, and practice gratitude for the opportunity to continue learning. Turn your financial concerns into actions – make sure you have enough savings to get by during your transition period. There can be a lot of fear and uncertainty surrounding a career change at 40, but changing your mindset surrounding these negative thoughts can be the confidence boost you need to move forward. 

Determine what additional qualifications you’ll need

Changing your career in your 40s or later will likely require some additional training or schooling.  Most careers - from teacher, to hairdresser, yoga instructor, massage therapist, accountant, lawyer, and more – have certain qualifications. These can be as simple as a weekend course, or as time-intensive as 3 years of law school and the bar exam.  When considering your career change at 40, make sure that you understand what qualifications, certifications, or education you’ll need. Make sure you have the time and the financial resources to make that commitment. 

Spread the word!

Once you’ve decided to make a career change in your 40s, let your network know!  If you already know a lot of people in your new career choice, nurture those connections and let them know you are looking to join them in their field.  If you don’t know people who do what you hope to do, join online communities, and attend networking events.  You may have to work a little harder to meet people in your new career than someone straight out of college or graduate school, who likely had relevant (and recent!) intern experience.  But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible! Tap into your current network and let them help you expand it. 

Just go for it

If you are waiting for the “perfect time” to make a career change, you’ll likely be waiting a while.  There is hardly ever a time where completely changing your life will be easy and not disruptive. There will always be bills to pay, family issues, health issues, daily stress….you get the point! Life will always have its challenges.  You can address these challenges while also working on finding a career that makes you happy and fulfilled. In fact, happiness and fulfilment leads to greater resiliency in times of stress. So, getting yourself in to a career that you love, in your 40s and beyond, will help you be better able to handle all life throws at you! 

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