I know you've asked yourself this question before. Maybe it sounded a little different; more like:
"Have I missed my chance?"
"Do I have to give up everything to do something I enjoy?"
Or, "I have real responsibilities now. People count on me and my steady job, while it may not be my dream job, provides a paycheck."
I'm a career coach who specializes in career changes. You know I'm going to tell you that you're not too old for a change. I don't believe that's true. But I also realize that just by saying that isn't convincing enough for you to put in your two weeks and open the next chapter of your career.
So let's look at the proof around us.
These Women Didn't Find Success Early
Vera Wang - first a figure skater and then a fashion editor, she was 40 before she commissioned her first wedding dress - her own!
JK Rowling - she first worked for Amnesty International then moving on to teach English in Portugal and eventually training other teachers before ever publishing the first of the Harry Potter series in her 40s.
Joy Behar - this funny woman was a high school teacher until blossoming into a comedian at age 40.
If You're in Your Twenties
Find me a twentysomething that hasn't changed course at least once and I'd be surprised. This is the decade when you're kind of expected to be testing the waters. What I'm not saying is to job hop simply because you get bored a few months in.
If you're thinking about a career change in your twenties, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I want to change careers or am I simply unhappy in my current job?
- Am I simply curious about another field, industry, or position or am I confident I want to shift my work focus completely?
- What are some ways I can try this new idea on for fit without making a long-term commitment?
Whatever you do, don't lose sight of the skills you're gaining along the way. Even if your current job isn't your forever job, you can be learning and growing towards your next goal while planning out your next move.
If You're in Your Thirties
The month I turned 30, I felt different. Honestly, something about it made me turn my focus inward on what mattered to me and my family much more than worrying about what others thought about me. This may not be a coincidence since I was changing careers myself around 30, but I definitely think it took that decade of constantly worrying about meeting others' expectations to realize that I was the only person in charge of my happiness.
In your 30s, typically you've been established in life and at work. It no longer feels like you constantly have to prove yourself; you've got some years of walking the walk to back up your value.
But let's be honest - you've also got more responsibilities now than before. These can often make us feel shackled to the safe areas of our work life since so many changes are happening on the personal front.
Changing careers in your 30s is all about your risk tolerance. As yourself these questions:
- How does my current work line up with my purpose?
- What role do I want work to play in my life right now?
- Do I want to make a slow transition - starting a side hustle or working part-time - or am I comfortable making the leap?
If You're in Your Forties
By the time you've reached your forties, you've probably developed a speciality or niche and have earned a seat at the management table. You're making more than you ever have but maybe something isn't sitting right.
You're good at your job but you can't get that one idea out of your head.
Think about the following questions:
- What's my most audacious dream?
- If I've been keeping myself from chasing that dream, what is it that I'm afraid of?
- At this point in my career, what's more important to me: security or fulfillment?
A lot of women that I come across who are in their 40s but are unhappy at work are weighed down by the "shoulds."
"I should know what I want to do by now."
"I should have figured it out a long time ago."
"Now that I'm finally going after my dream I shouldn't expect to make more than an entry-level worker even though I have a lot of experience."
It's time to let go of the shoulds and follow your must. If I haven't done a good enough job convincing you, just check out my favorite infographic, Too Late to Start?, that's been spread far and wide across the internet.