The Courage to Trust Yourself: Career Change After 40

illustration of professional contemplating career change after 40 with arrows pointing in different directions

What do Martha Stewart, John Grisham, and Julia Child have in common? Courage. These are individuals who took the risk of going through a mid-life career change even though they were flourishing in their respective fields. Martha Stewart published the maiden issue of her “Martha Stewart Living” Magazine at 49. John Grisham was a lawyer and a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives before he became a full-time writer at 41. Julia Child was an intelligence officer before becoming a cooking icon at the age of 51. Essentially, these names are proof that a successful career change after 40 is possible.

A change in career invigorates the mind. The thrill of starting over again renews and channels the flow of positive energy. Remember how you felt years ago when you were starting your career? Moreover, accomplishing new things outside of your field of expertise amplifies your confidence. Being able to do well in a new area is an added feather on your cap.

Telltale Signs That It May Be Time for a Career Change

  • When you catch yourself saying, “Here I go again.” Nothing about your career excites you anymore—boredom has taken over as you perform your tasks repetitively day in and day out. In effect, the meaning and significance of your contributions are buried in monotony.
  • When you are not learning something new. There is pleasure in learning as you go about your role or job. It pushes you to continue the process of discovery. A career that has stopped contributing to your personal growth can be a source of demotivation.
  • When you begin to compare your professional journey with the journeys of others. Career stagnation can be a cause of worry. When you feel like nothing is happening in your career, you begin to look at how others seem to be moving in the right direction.
  • When you find yourself moving from one job to another, or from one company to another. In your attempts to revive your energy and vigor, you try to change jobs and companies. However, these changes do not seem to suffice. Fundamentally, you are still filling in the same role in another company.

Setting Your Sail for a Career Change After 40

professional woman embracing a career change after 40

  1. Take stock of the things you are good at. Consider your natural talents and abilities. Hobbies can be a good place to start. Do you like taking photos when traveling? Maybe you can pursue a career in nature photography.
  2. The career switch can be done slowly and can happen in parallel with your current career. John Grisham is an example. While practicing law, he devoted one or two hours writing his novels. It took three years for Grisham to finish his first novel, “A Time to Kill”. Yes, it may be slow, but you are at least moving towards your goal.
  3. Move while you are at the top of your current career. Don’t make the mistake of making the switch when your job is already heading downhill. Doing this will limit your options. Finding a career that you really like will be sidestepped by the need to find a job that pays the bills.
  4. Prepare for the sunk cost by setting aside money to cushion the decreased income. Moving to a new area may require you to start at the bottom rung. In essence, your lack of experience in the field means that you have to gain knowledge along the way.
  5. Conquer your fear and just do it! Mel Robbins, a lawyer and the author of the “The 5 Second Rule,” states, “If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within five seconds or your brain will kill it.” While changing careers takes a lot more planning, using this rule to start taking steps for a career change can undoubtedly be helpful. For instance, if you’re thinking of pursuing a career in coding, go ahead and enroll in that certification class you’ve been eyeing for months.

The Benefits of Career Change After 40

Changing careers while you are thriving in your current one seems like an insane idea. Concerned friends, loved ones and, of course, naysayers can give you a string of reasons not to do it. Hurdles, such as competing with a younger workforce, having a reduced income, and experiencing a longer learning curve are valid concerns. However, a career change after 40 can be beneficial to your well-being.

More often, we choose a career based on our interest. While interest is an important factor when making that choice, knowing your abilities and talents will help you in getting more than just income from your profession. Interest may wane and change over time, but skills and talents get honed through the years.

More than financial benefits, a career change after 40 allows you to reap many benefits.

About the Author

Imee Rabang is a blogger/writer and bilingual poet from Manila, Philippines. She is an advocate of Philippine culture and supports causes that promote language and national identity. She juggles her time between work, parenthood, and community outreach programs. She also dabbles in photography and graphic arts in her free time.
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