The thought of spending your entire life in a profession that you like but don’t love is depressing. If you’ve reached what you consider to be mid-life and you are unsatisfied with your current career and feel a desperate need to switch to something else, you should not delay. Finding your true calling in life is something that many people never experience and if you feel that you’ve finally determined where you should be spending your time, you really must explore the means by which you can get there.
It’s Not Going to be Easy
Not only is it difficult to halt a career that has been progressing for probably around 20 years and completely change professional gears, but it can also be exhausting and emotionally draining. It is a personal challenge to change professions and others will attempt to persuade you not to do it. Close family members and friends are likely going to try and dissuade you from making a change because they will view it as a risky and foolish endeavor. They will tell you that you are making a mistake and that you are throwing away the past 20 years of your professional life.
When others try to convince you that you are making an incorrect choice, you must keep your goals in mind. Always remember that it is your life, not theirs and you must be the one in control of your future. Remember: life is too short to spend it at a job that you only mildly like.
It’s Easier When You are Young
Making a career change when you are in your 20s is relatively easy and somewhat expected. Most people don’t know what they want to do with their lives when they are 20. Twenty-year-olds switch jobs regularly and try new jobs until they find one they like – at which point they settle into the profession and are supposed to stay there until they retire.
When you are in your 40s, you are expected to already be at the point in your career where you are settled and stable. At 40, you have enough professional experience to say that you are an expert in your field, and when you announce that you are going to abruptly end your career of 20 years and switch to something completely different, you should realize that it’s going to be difficult.
In an era with a significantly high unemployment rate and with many 20-somethings out of work, the chances of a 40-year-old getting hired before a younger alternative is low. Additionally, employers know that people in their 40s expect to earn higher salaries than people in their 20s. When both a 40-year-old and a 20-year-old are vying for the same job, who is an employer likely to pick? There is no guarantee that the younger job applicant will be chosen, but the odds are not in the 40-year-old’s favor. So, it isn’t going to be easy. But, it isn’t impossible either.
Be Aware That a New Career Will Not Fix Everything
People wishing to switch careers at mid-life are often doing so because they are bored with their current career. Oftentimes, they are also bored with their personal lives. Their children are often grown and out of the house, and they have come to the realization that they have not achieved all that they originally desired out of their career.
Switching careers is often viewed as a quick way to fix feelings of discontentment. A new job will alleviate the dissatisfaction in the short term because the new profession will seem exciting, new, fresh and demanding. The work will be difficult and you will feel a great sense of pleasure when you master new skills and gain new knowledge. Over time, however, the job duties in the new profession will become more routine and eventually the new job may become boring and monotonous. This is not going to happen in every case, but it’s something to think about before you make the decision to switch careers at mid-life.
Work is Work No Matter How You Look at It
Many people in mid-life look back at their careers and wish that they had majored in something different, took a job that they never took, or started to look for a new career earlier in their lives. However, the old saying “the grass is always greener” applies to this situation very well. The bottom line is that working in any industry is not as glamorous as it appears to those who are not in it. In fact, you may be glorifying the career that you think you want, when in fact it is not so great after all.
Making the decision to switch to a new career at mid-life is not simple. However, the thought of working in a profession that is gratifying and worthwhile is exciting. There is absolutely no reason to deny yourself a career that makes you feel passionate and inspired, but the trick to obtaining this goal is to plan carefully and be financially prepared for the change.
Read these additional articles for more information about making a mid-life career change:
Written by Melanie Fischer, Career & Job Expert who has been writing professionally for over 10 years.