If you’re looking to shake things up in your professional life but fear the unknown, learn how to change careers at 40 without rocking your world upside down.

By the time you’ve reached the age of 40, you’ve lived almost half of your life and worked for approximately 20 years into your career. This may be a generalization, but for the most part, this is a reality for a majority of the working world today.
Granted, you have years of unrivaled experience and know-how under your belt. But does it mean anything if you just aren’t fulfilled by what you do anymore?
Changing your career path after two decades may seem daunting- impossible, even. But with enough preparation and research it can be done. Here’s how to change careers at 40

How to Change Careers at 40: Weighing Up the Pros and Cons

If you stayed with your current career, you could end up climbing the corporate ladder to find great success. But does this success have meaning if you feel like you’re stuck at a dead-end, just 20-years in? It’s a complex question that actually has a simple answer.
Is it worth ”sticking it out” to find wealth and success, if you don’t feel validated from within? Everyone knows the answer to that one. A good place to start is to weigh the pros and cons of breaking into a new career:

The Pros

• You have years of workplace experience and confidence which makes the change a little easier
• You still have at least 25 years left to learn the ropes and grow in your newly chosen career
• A career change can positively affect your own self-esteem, relationships, and overall happiness
• You can leverage the career expertise you already have into transferable skills

The Cons

• There’s a lot of pressure to find a career and make a success of it, especially with young children who depend on you
• You have financial responsibilities i.e. mortgage, college funds, car repayments, etc.
• You may need to take time off from work to prepare for a new career
• Alternatively, you’ll need to balance working full-time, while preparing for your new career
Sure, changing careers at 40 may feel like it’s too late. However, there is no limit on what you can achieve in today’s day and age with enough research, preparation, and gumption, of course. If you find yourself asking ”what should I do with my life?”, here’s how to start…

1. It’s Time for Self-Assesment

First thing’s first, you’ll need to do a decent amount of reassessment of yourself. This includes your personal goals, interests, and motivations. Let’s be honest- all of these things could have changed drastically since you first began your career.
Take some to learn what your personality type is, your aptitudes, personal strengths, and what your work-related goals and values are. Once you have done a thorough reassessment of yourself, you should have a clearer idea of what you want to do, and what you can realistically achieve.
Do some research on occupations that suit your aptitudes, skill level, career experience, and current interests. Don’t rule out adult internships, either – this is a great way to break into a new career without too much pressure!

2. Consider Your Remaining Career Timeline

At 40, you’ve already worked for almost half of your life. According to statistics and the common retirement age, you probably have another 25-years left in the workplace. It may sound like a lot of time, but you may not want to wait several years before you dive back into the workplace. And you may not be able to afford this either, especially with a family who depends on your income.
Remember that it’s important to transition into a new career fairly quickly. The best way to do this is to find a career that doesn’t require excessive preparation or education. It’s would be best to find a career that is related to what you studied, where your current skill set and experience are viewed as transferable and valuable.

3. Be Practical: Analyze Your Resources

Once you have done some much-needed soul searching and reassessed yourself on an intellectual and emotional level, it’s time for the practical stuff. You’ll need to clearly outline the practical aspects of executing your career change. And this includes a thorough and candid assessment of your resources.
Look at your financial resources first. This could include any investments or savings you have that could be used as a support net during your career transition. You’ll also need to take a cold, hard look at your financial obligations. Assess what your risk tolerance is like. Is there wiggle-room in your budget for a career change? Will you need to continue working on a full-time basis, while making plans for your new career?
Be 100% honest with yourself and set realistic goals when it comes to the expectation of switching careers.

4. Research and Network

Have you looked into the type of career opportunities there actually are out there? If not, this must be one of the first things you should research so that you have an idea of the career landscape you’re facing. Today, there are a myriad of online and print research options at your disposal.
Your best resources are the people around you and the networks you’re connected with. Take full advantage of who you know to get your name out in the open. As the saying goes ”it’s not what you know, but who know”, and the older you get, the more this can be leveraged.
The great part is that all of the above can be done before you actually have to leave your current position. You can begin doing all the important research and networking before diving in and taking the risk.

5. Minimize Risk, Then Take the Plunge

While leaving your job and starting over in your career may sound brilliant, it’s important to face reality. Your life isn’t a Hollywood movie and there’s no guarantee that it will work out. But how will you ever know if you don’t take the plunge and try?
But before taking the leap of faith, you must take steps to minimize the risk of failure beforehand. Don’t quit your job in haste. Don’t chew into your savings unnecessarily while setting up your new career path. Establish a written plan with deadlines, goals, and financial responsibilities. This will provide accountability and ensure you’re moving towards a realistic goal, that suits both you and your family.

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