While changing careers is normal in your 20s and even 30s, changing careers at 40 can be a little daunting. At 40, you’ve probably been working in the same industry for almost two decades and feeling secure in your lifestyle. You might even have a household that needs your financial and emotional support. So switching careers at this time can feel a little scary and a whole lot challenging. But it’s totally doable and especially worth it if changing careers means you get to do what you love to do. Remember in season nine of Friends when Chandler quit whatever weird job he had to start as an intern in advertising? It wasn’t pretty, and he had to start from scratch with a bunch of young interns, but eventually he was able to land his dream job. You can be Chandler! Here’s what you need to know about changing your career at 40.
Is it ever too late to change careers?
No, it’s not too late. In fact, you can change careers at 40, 50, or even 60! You’re older and wiser now, so that means you are more in control of your life than you were when you first started out. You get to choose where you want to go, and what you want your new career to look and feel like. Taking control of your career will give you the confidence that a new change will require — an asset that potential employers will admire and respect.
What are the pros?
Your level of fulfillment, satisfaction, and financial security. Making a career change that is aligned with your goals and passions will positively affect your mood and behavior, which will only enhance your health and relationships, including the one with yourself. Also, by stepping outside your comfort zone, you’re allowing your true worth to be seen and valued by new employers. Don’t forget that your skills and experience are transferable, and are far more valuable than a new graduate with zero work experience. Meaning? You don’t necessarily need to take a pay cut. Plus, if you are planning to retire at 65, you still have a good 25 years to earn even more $$$. Did we mention you’ll be happier?
Depending on what a career change will require — education? an entry-level position? — your lifestyle might take a hit, which could have further implications if you’re married and/or have kids. Your career change will most likely demand a lot of your attention and focus, which might mean implementing a new work-life balance that will affect the family. Additionally, you might have to take on a part-time job in your new field as you juggle your current position. You might even need to dip into your savings and/or find other means to make ends meet. Bottom line: your life on every level will feel the change.
How to handle the transition?
While there’s a lot to consider when changing careers, try not to be deterred, especially from those in the peanut gallery. Change makes a lot of people freak out, and you don’t need to deal with someone else’s projection of how life should be at 40. Tune them out and focus on you. If making a career change is something that you want for yourself and you’re confident that it’s an act of growth and part of your evolution, then go for it.
Have a plan
Before you make the official plunge, it’s wise to have a plan in place that suits your current life situation. Maybe that means saving up for six months to a year, or downgrading your home. It also helps to connect with those in your new field and ask for their input and advice. Network, and seek out opportunities to gain some experience in your new career whether that means volunteer work or going back to school. Keep in mind about where you want to go, and don’t underestimate the joy and satisfaction that can be found with new — new challenges, new people, new experiences, and new dreams.