Changing Careers Later in Life



Changing Careers Later in Life

BY KAREN COOPER

Changing careers later in your life can be a daunting prospect…. But also, a fairly thrilling one! For me, deciding to go to nursing school at age 41 was one of the most terrifying and exciting things I’ve ever done, and the rewards have been beyond measure! Whether you decide to make a change in your 30s, 40s, 50s, or beyond, there are many things you will need to think about and preparations to make, so the transition is as smooth as possible.

The first thing to recognize and be ready for is that a career change may turn your life upside down for a while, but when the dust settles, the results can be amazing. As with any career change in mid-life, there is bound to be a fear of failure, questions about whether it will work for you financially, and concerns about how it will affect the family. There may be negative opinions from people who most likely mean well, but to whom it seems like a big risk to take. As with anything new, there may also be anxiety about stepping outside of your comfort zone. This could be the time to make a list of the pros and cons.

The Positives

  • Changing careers can get you out of a job where you feel unfulfilled and maybe have no opportunity for growth.
  • A rewarding career change can positively affect your health, your happiness, and your relationships.
  • Even if at first you have a decrease in pay, there may be the chance to increase your income down the road.
  • Most people have acquired more skills and knowledge later in life, which can transfer to a new career.
  • Depending on your age, you may have 20-30 good working years left in which to make your mark in your new chosen field.

The Negatives

  • Dealing with change, additional training, new work hours…especially if you have younger children, can be a challenge.
  • Continuing to make enough money to cover all expenses can be tricky, especially if any time away from work is required to train for your new career.
  • You may even need to continue working full-time AND training for your new career at the same time, which may be downright exhausting.
  • Dealing with naysayers who are unsupportive of change can dampen your enthusiasm.

It’s important to understand why you want to make a change at this time in your life. Ask yourself why and then really think about the answer. If you’re just feeling overworked, underappreciated, or in a rut at your current employer, it may be that you just need to change employers. If it’s something else, like you truly feel called to another profession, or you think you could be happier in a different job, you owe it to yourself to continue to explore a new path.

Get Prepared

  • Finances:If your pay will be lower for a period of time, what are some ways you can manage that? Will you need to save up for a while? Figure out what to expect in a starting salary in your new field and what you can expect to be making a few years down the road and plan how you can work within those parameters.
  • Time:If time is your main concern, are there online degree and/or certification programs available that will allow you to work on your particular schedule?
  • Skills:In considering your new profession, think about what current skills you have that would be valuable in your new role.
  • Mentor: Talk to others who have done what you are planning to do. How did they make it work and how do they feel now they’re on the other side? Was it all worth it?
  • Support:Be sure the people who will be impacted by your career change are ready to be supportive and understand what is being asked of them. Better for them to be ready to stand with you in solidarity than to be surprised when things are not as they expected them to be.

Do your best to identify problematic situations that might arise along your journey and figure out how you can solve them ahead of time!

It’s never too late to make a career change! You have just one life and you deserve to live it doing something that gives you satisfaction and fulfillment. When you have made up your mind to move forward, you must truly believe you CAN do it and take the leap! There is never a perfect time to make a life-altering change. When the opportunity is there, grab it!


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