The big four-oh is not only a milestone personally but professionally. Around this age, people are usually well-established in their chosen field, with a title and salary commensurate with their experience.
However, many people reach this point in their career and aren’t where they want to be. Either they have reached a ceiling in their career they cannot crack, or the path they thought they wanted to be on as a 22 year old straight out of undergrad, is not the same one they want to be on as a forty something with a couple of kids at home.
Maybe the issue isn’t even about work, but general angst about getting older or regrets over past decisions. While we here at Vested cannot offer you much help dealing with your midlife crisis, we can offer you some practical advice if you are thinking of making a change mid-career.
Develop the right mindset
First and foremost, you need to stop thinking about the desire to change as a bad thing. Life is not about staying still, and it is perfectly acceptable that you are changing and moving forward. You should never expect that things will remain unchanged over time.
Could you have known in your youth what would happen the next day? Not with certainty. How is it possible for you to foresee events decades in the future? So, don’t regret your past decisions. They might have been right back then, but now you have to take new steps in accordance with your current situation.
Experience is an asset
Changing careers, you may be anxious about competing with young employees that have skills you don’t and a willingness to work for less money and fewer benefits. But there is an attribute that young people are unlikely to have, but you do have in abundance: experience.
Your age might close some doors for you, but your experience is a powerful differentiator in the interview/hiring process. There are many jobs that a relatively inexperienced young people would struggle with while a seasoned professional could handle the responsibilities with relative ease.
For example, look at the job of teaching. In your forties, you have years of classroom experience and more life experience in general. You might be better suited for lecturing in a university or school than your younger colleagues. Your age is a trump card in such cases because you have simply had more time to experience the world than the newbies.
Consider other options
Perhaps after years of working 9 to 5, you have grown tired of the same routine and want a different, more flexible arrangement? One way to achieve this is to become a consultant in a field related to your specialization.
Consultancy is very much in demand as it is much easier to “buy” other people’s experience than invest money and create skills and knowledge among new workers.
Don’t think that your twenties are the only time to choose a career. It is never too late to develop new skills. You can gain go back to school or enroll in a training program.
Many online programs offer the flexibility of completing training at your own pace and schedule for little or no cost. Some employers are also willing to hire employees if they have a demonstrable skill (for instance, coding), without an actual degree or certification.
Rely on your network
Another advantage to mid-career switches is all the contacts you have made over the years. Ask them for advice, reference letters, introductions, and whatever other help they are willing to give. Go on LinkedIn.
Research, try to understand what you want to do. Maybe your contacts will give you a hand in your searches for a dream job. You might even discover people who want to switch jobs like you. They might be uncomfortable about their ideas at first, but your cooperation may boost the confidence of everyone.
Look for success stories of people who became successful after age 40. Stan Lee, the former executive vice president and publisher of Marvel Comics, created his first comic when he was 39. Actor Samuel L. Jackson’s career had a true rise at age 43 after taking an award-winning role in the film Jungle Fever. Henry Ford created the Model T car when he was 45. Barack Obama, the former president of the United States, became a millionaire after republishing his book Dreams from My Father at age 43. These and numerous other stories are about people discovering themselves not in their 20s or 30s. They just felt that their life needed to change.
Discover your desires, concentrate on them, meet new people and be connected with your friends, be decisive. Do not think about a possible failure. Will it be better if you do nothing out of anxiety? Certainly, you should be careful and realistic, but that doesn’t mean that you need to spend months thinking about changes without acting. In your forties, you should know that achieving anything is not easy. Just let your dreams drive you forward and reach for your new goals!