11 Ways to Make a Career Change at 40 in 2021

making a career change at 40

Are you thinking about a career change at 40? Starting a new career at 40 feels like a huge risk – throwing away your degree, experience, and earning potential on something unknown. There are Successful Procedures for a Career Change at 40.

But when you’ve given it careful thought, the thought of it is like the process of finding meaning in life, the journey is not the same for everyone.

So, the question is, how do you find out how to make a career change without disrupting your life too much?

The need for a career change can be a turning point to assess your work-life balance, follow your passion, or just try something new.

Choosing the right career path that suits your experience and interests can be a rewarding way to achieve success at the age of 40 and beyond.

If you are considering a career change after age 40, this article can help you identify potential roles and explain how to make the change.

Making a Career change at 40

By the age of 40, you have been in your career for almost two decades. If you’ve continued to work in the same job in which you started, by this point you will have a lot of experience. You may even have made progress in ascending the ladder.

There’s no telling how far you will go if you stay in the same career. If you don’t particularly like what you’re doing. Or maybe you have found that you actually have got stuck and that despite the fact that you like your career, you don’t want to be stuck in a dead-end.

What can you do? You may be worried that it is too late for a career change. Even if it sounds mundane, it’s never too late. That doesn’t mean your transition will be easy or that you can make it easier. Change is difficult, even if you prepare well for it.

However, the truth is that it is much harder to go to work every day to do something that you don’t enjoy or that isn’t satisfying. Weighing some of the positives and negatives of changing careers at 40 can help you start your decision-making process.

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What is good about a career change?

Many people report an increase in self-confidence by the time they turn 40. What better time to make a career change than when you feel like you can accept whatever comes your way?

If like many people, you want to retire at 65, you have 25 years of work in the future. Even if you have a few years to prepare for another job, you have over two decades to enjoy a satisfying career if everything goes according to plan.

And if you have to work until you are 65 for financial reasons, you will be grateful to do something you enjoy.

Once you’ve figured out what you’re going to do, it will likely be a huge relief.

  • Increased self-confidence at this age can help you make the transition easier
  • Even if you need to retrain for a new profession, you still have 25 years to work in it before you reach retirement age
  • A good career change can have positive effects on your health and relationships
  • You can convert your current experience into transferable skills

What makes changing jobs difficult at 40?

Forty-year-olds have many responsibilities that could make this transition more difficult than changing careers at 30 would have been.

By the age of 40, you are more likely to have children for whom you are financially responsible. You may have bought a home in the past few years and need to pay a mortgage.

  1. Handling change when you have younger children at home
  2. Continue to earn enough money to cover your mortgage and higher annual expenses
  3. You may need to take time off from your current job to prepare for a new career
  4. Conversely, you may have to work full time while preparing for a new career

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Can you start a new career at 40?

There are many legitimate concerns that people hold. Of course, you should weigh the risks before taking any big steps.

But when you focus on reasons not to change, it becomes harder and harder to take action. This could mean learning to improve focus. If you really want to reinvent yourself, don’t let these common excuses stop you:

Excuse 1: I have too many responsibilities to take a risk.

By the age of 40, most people have responsibilities as adults. You may have children to feed, mortgage payments, and a comfortable lifestyle to maintain. There is a lot at stake.

And when there are major changes, there is always the risk of condemnation. Yes, some people will say you have a midlife crisis. Why don’t you buy a motorcycle and go?

The good news is that you can safely find a new career without quitting your job and burning your savings. It’s not about all or nothing – this is a career change myth.

Excuse 2: I don’t know what to do.

This is a big deal for a lot of people – you hate what you’re doing but have no idea what to do next. You’re in your 40s and you’re still trying to say, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Let me take the pressure off here. If you are like the vast majority of people, you won’t find a rewarding career in a single moment. You won’t find it either if you follow your passion, whatever that means.

Excuse 3: I invested too much in my job to be thrown away.

You have spent time in your career gaining experience. You worked hard to climb the ladder. In some professions, it is common to still pay student loans when you are 40.

This is known as the sunk cost fallacy and is a terrible way of making decisions. It doesn’t make much sense to keep doing something that makes you unhappy just because you’ve invested before.

You will bring all of your previous experience and everything you have learned with you to your new job. These things make you who you are.

It may be hard to see right now, but your existing skills can be a huge asset as you explore new career ideas.

Best careers to start at 40

Choosing a new career means more than choosing something that sounds better than your current one. At 40, you want to be sure that you are making the right choice. You can’t afford to blindly invest in another degree or another decade in the wrong profession.

The perfect career for you combines your passion, your strengths, and your goal. These things are hard to define, but you can start by gathering lots of ideas too:

  • What do you love?
  • What could you be good at?
  • What are your values?
  • Which jobs make sense to start at forty? A mid-life career change can be daunting, but doable. Here are some options:
  1. Independent advice or coaching: If you’ve worked in an area for years but your current job isn’t doing it for you, a career as a consultant or coach in your industry might be for you. Consulting activities can be very lucrative and offer a lot of flexibility.
  2. Start a business: Why not start your own business? If you’ve been thinking about entrepreneurship as the next step in your professional life, now may be the right time.
  3. Go back to school for a postgraduate degree: Get your Master’s or Ph.D. could open new doors for you later in life.
  4. Explore a completely different field: Even if you are contemplating a career change at 40 without a degree, you may have enough life experience and knowledge to make up for it. And with so many self-paced online learning options these days, there’s no excuse not to try a course or two.
  5. To rekindle an old passion: Did you give up a career dream at a young age in order to pursue something more practical? At this stage, you may have the confidence and stability to take a move that felt too risky at a young age.

Which career pivot is best depends on your background, interests, and goals. However, these are some ideas to consider as you prepare for the next step.

How do I start a new Career at 40?

The steps you should follow to make a career change or start a new career include:

#1. Decide that you are no longer engaged

#2. Gather information

#3. Identify possibilities

#4. Use your previous work experiences

#5. Do your first experiment

#6. Request support

#7. Find new connections and experiences

#8. Take your time to think

#9. Let Go of Fear

#10. Revise your resume

#11. Get help

#1. Decide that you are no longer engaged

There is an important distinction to be made here. You can be disinterested but indecisive, and that means you are not ready. Before anything can change, you need to make a mental change:

The day you switch from wanting to making decisions is a momentous event. It marks the beginning of your transition. Only when you have decided to make a change can you begin.

So make it official – mark your calendar. Your professional transition has started. Unsurprisingly, a determination is also one of the qualities of a leader.

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#2. Gather information

Discovering what to do with your life is like imagining different versions of yourself. Although you cannot always see it, many possible selves already exist within you. Your job in this step is to start digging:

  • Restricted thinking: Because of experience, faulty logic, or just plain fear, you are likely to have some limiting beliefs that tell you what you can and cannot do.
  • Old identities: You begin to define all the roles and responsibilities that you have identified in your life, even if they no longer fit. It sounds counter-intuitive, but self-discovery is best achieved with outside help.

Obviously, you are the least objective person when it comes to self-assessment. Start by identifying your strengths, social style, and values.

Next, interview people you know well. Don’t ask them about career ideas – this is a time to look into your qualities.

#3. Identify possibilities

Perhaps you haven’t and shouldn’t have a new career idea in mind. If you now commit to a trajectory, you are probably way off the mark. Instead, make a plan to explore and experiment. Identify small, bite-sized adventures based on what you’ve uncovered. Come up with as many ideas as you can.

Just like the previous one, this step is really difficult to do on your own. You need to generate a number of micro experiment ideas and go beyond what you know.

By integrating a network of friends, relatives, and colleagues, you can draw on a much larger pool of resources. Other people will have new ideas that you may never have thought of.

You can have connections to help you get your foot in the door in an otherwise inaccessible place.

#4. Use your previous work experiences

The best thing about your accumulated years of work is that you have a lot of experience. You may be thinking, “What will my experience bring me when I switch to a new career?” Two words: transferable skills.

These are talents and skills acquired through one type of job that you can use in another. For some professions, you may even be able to replace your transferable skills with formal training.

When deciding between a job that requires additional schooling and one where you can use your transferable skills, you can go for the latter.

It enables you to move faster and with less hassle at an age when you may want to limit your time, energy, or money.

#5. Do your first experiment

It’s time to start your first experiment. The danger in this phase is that experiments can continue indefinitely. Since you are still working in your current career, it will be difficult to find the time and energy.

In order not to lose momentum, create your experiment as a project. After you’ve planned time and allocated resources, run the project. Give yourself a deadline and be clear about the outcome you want.

When you’re done, take some time to rest and reflect on what you’ve learned.

#6. Request support

It’s incredibly difficult to make a big change in life on your own – and the career change at 40 is a big one. You will sink into self-doubt, lose perspective, and become discouraged.

External perspectives are essential. Get the support of role models, consultants, career transition coaches, and cheerleaders. Meet with these people often.

Choose your support team wisely – don’t include people who rely on your salary and stability. You mean well, but you cannot rely on impartial advice.

The same goes for anyone who keeps making negative comments, no matter how close your friendship is. If you get out and start listening to the beat of your own drum, you will trigger naysayers. Your fear-based thinking and doomsday advice are not what you need now.

#7. Find new connections and experiences

The people who helped in your previous career won’t necessarily be the best guides in your new one. Get it and make at least three to five new connections.

Visit with experts in other fields or with other people in transition. Artists, scientists, entrepreneurs – anyone willing to think outside the box can be a great source of ideas and inspiration.

The same goes for new experiences. Traveling, trying new hobbies, and joining groups that stimulate your imagination can open your mind to new opportunities. And sometimes new adventures can spawn new career ideas.

#8. Take your time to think

You will receive all kinds of evidence during your experiments. During downtime, your brain processes all of these things – it takes a while for knowledge to come into play.

Take time out for walks, naps, or vacations. New insights may emerge during idle time. Be ready to forget what you know and think.

#9. Let Go of Fear

According to Babita Spinelli, a licensed psychotherapist and certified coach, there are usually three main fears that keep people from making great career transitions. These fears are:

  • The fear of not being able to meet current financial obligations
  • The fear of failure
  • Fear of what others will think
  • Many people in the group over 40 have families to look after and financial obligations such as mortgages and car payments. They have also often reached the peak of their careers after years of working toward that goal.

After you’ve finally achieved what you’ve worked so much of your life for, it can be incredibly difficult to walk away – especially when it comes with a huge pay cut and no guarantee of success.

You can prepare yourself for success by identifying potential obstacles and thinking about how to overcome them before you have to – and this planning will help you overcome your fears and overcome them.

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#10. Revise your resume

Once you’ve identified your transferable skills, it’s time to recreate your resume to highlight what you bring with you. You may want to use a hybrid or composite resume that allows you to list your key skills at the top of the page.

You may also consider attaching a resume summary to give you the opportunity to concisely tell your career change story before listing your work experience.

In some cases, career changers opt for a functional resume that is more focused on your skills than on your previous jobs. Be aware, however, that this can be a deterrent for recruiters and hiring managers.

#11. Get help

Making a career change can be a stressful and frightening experience at any age, but maybe especially after 40 when so many of your coworkers are determined to stay the course.

Perhaps you feel like nobody around you really understands the decisions you are making, or you just need a sounding board when thinking about your next steps. A therapist or career coach could be helpful here.

Conclusion

It’s never too late to make a career change at 40. Never let your age get in the way of reinventing yourself and finding purpose for yourself. Many people change jobs in mid-adulthood, with great success.

Many people only find out later in life what fulfills them and give them meaning. You still have a lot of time and there is no better day than today to make the decision to pivot.

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