Am I too old to change career?
Too old to change career, think again!
It doesn’t matter what age you are, career change will be on your radar.
When we’re young we want to be older and when we’re old we want to be younger! There never seems to be a perfect age, especially when it comes to your career. There’s a common misconception that by a certain age you should have it sorted and be settled in your career. But what if you’re in a career that doesn’t fulfill or stretch you, or that makes you unhappy? It doesn’t matter what age you are, career change will be on your radar. So if at 30, 40, or 50 you’re worried that you may be too old to change career, think again.
Our age should not define us, and certainly has no bearing on your ability to actually change career or anything else in your life for that matter. Try these tips to break free from any age-limiting beliefs:
Who says ‘you’re too old’ to change career?
Is this belief yours or someone else’s? Are you letting yourself be influenced by other people’s prejudices or expectations? If your best friend told you that he or she was going to change their career, what would you say to them? It’s unlikely you’d say ‘what! you’re too old’.
Give yourself permission to follow what you feel is right for you regardless of your age. Some people are able to work out their career path at a young age, but for many it is a process of exploration and experimentation. And if this takes 10 or more years so be it.
How many years?
When do you want to retire? I’m guessing it’s age 65-70? Now minus your current age from your desired retirement age, and you’ll get the rest of your working life. This could be another 20 or 30 years. If your goal is to have a fulfilling and happy career then why, when you have that amount of time left to work, wouldn’t you change careers?
This can also help you to see that the investment and time in any retraining or studying will be short compared to the time in your new job. Don’t ask yourself ‘am I too old to change career at 30 or 40 or 50?’, instead ask yourself ‘How would I feel if I spend another 10 or 20 years doing a job I don’t love?’
Look for role models
Knowing other people, who may be the same age or older, have changed career successfully can be inspiring and reassuring. Find someone in your network who has done this and talk to them about their experience. If you don’t know anyone, check out LinkedIn and look at people’s career stories.
Many of my clients have changed career mid-life or in later life. My oldest client was 60 when she changed career. Society is obsessed with youth. Youth is seen as being vigorous and full of potential, and so it can be hard to see career changers who are older and who are still fulfilling their potential.
There are celebrity role models who can help. Vera Wang didn’t start designing clothes until age 40. Harrison Ford was a cabinet maker for 15 years before becoming an actor, almost by chance. Julia Child wrote her first cookbook at 50. Martha Stewart was a model and stockbroker before branching into gourmet cooking in her thirties and then developing her lifestyle brand. Spanx founder Sara Blakely sold office supplies door to door before quitting at 30 to run her business full time. Justine Roberts, founder of Mumsnet was a sports journalist for several years before creating Mumsnet.
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Challenge your beliefs
Do some hard thinking about your own beliefs about age, and be prepared to challenge your thinking. We collect beliefs through our life from many different sources, and they can form part of our identity so it may feel particularly challenging to let a belief go. Do some freewriting to unearth your belief and then consider the truth of what you have discovered. Ask yourself ‘What am I saying ‘no’ to by sticking with this belief?’ and ‘What am I saying ‘yes’ to if I change my belief?’
Download 3Plus Career Reflections Worksheets to guide your thinking
It won’t necessarily be easy to change how you feel about age and career change but working at it will give you the freedom and motivation to find a career that enables you to fulfill your potential at any stage in your life.
I firmly believe that age should not hold us back from finding and doing work that we love. As one of my clients said to me today ‘it’s never too late to start living the life you want to live’.
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