A change of career is a scary thing to undergo at the best of times, but if doing so after reaching the age of 40, the task can become all the more trying. Family, pension, mortgage, old age and a host of other pressures simply don’t exist in such a great number when we’re younger.
The solution isn’t to shelve your plans and gloss over the inevitable feelings of regret. Instead, steel your nerves and take note of the following strategies.
Focus on your desires
When changing profession, it can be tempting to move into an industry or market that’s experiencing good growth or that has a certain buzz surrounding it. While this is certainly something that should be in your mind – especially if you’re starting a new business – don’t let the state of the market be your primary determinant.
Instead, focus on what you love and what you want to do most. While markets and trends change monthly, during middle age it doesn’t make any sense to follow another money-driven career for the sake of it. Our innate career wishes are far more reliable, providing long-term happiness and prosperity – after all, if you love your work, getting up on a Monday morning is an easy task.
Plan for the uncertainty
Nearly every career change comes with a period of uncertainty and risk. It’s a natural by-product of such monumental change, but nevertheless is an issue that can be overcome with the right degree of planning and foresight. To tackle this, when you’ve decided you want to change career, you should begin forming a financial cushion and emergency fund that you can rely on if things head south.
The size of this fund will depend on a variety of circumstances – whether you need to retrain, the job market, if you have children, the size of your irreducible monthly outgoings and so on – so you should also draw up an exhaustive household budget that covers the period until you get settled into a new profession. With this, you should have a solid and reliable plan upon which you can base your finances, shielding you from shocks.
To add to the insecurity and uncertainty that a career change nearly always entails, over-40s have to also contend with the knowledge that those they’re competing for employment with may have years of experience already tucked under their belts.
Don’t let this affect you. While clichés regarding the importance and merit of hard work and drive do hold truth, your professional past and bank of skills are secret weapons that should be used. Whatever your new role, there’s a good chance that your current career has instilled you a great amount of experience already, be it business acumen, interpersonal skills or a view to strategize – skills are far more transferable than you might think.
Keep your eye on the prize
If you’ve been in your current career for a very long time, the process of getting to grips with upping sticks and laying down new professional foundations can be rather difficult, so much so that you might be tempted to go back down the easy, well-trodden path of your previous profession.
To stop yourself from succumbing to the pressure, keep thinking about what you’ll gain from this momentous move. Wanting to spend more time with your family, enjoying better wages, working with more like-minded people, living authentically without needing to please others – there are a host of driving forces behind a change in career, so be sure to internalise yours and let them work for you.
Changing career doesn’t have to be punishing. By making sure you know exactly what you want and planning correctly, the career of your dreams can be easily attained.