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Career Change at 40 and Above

Even Stars Need Coaches!

Do you feel stuck where you are, and think a career change might be the right move for you? If so, book your complimentary Wayfinders Discovery call today.

Changing careers over 40 is daunting.  

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You’ve spent a decade or more developing the skills and experience necessary to excel in THIS field. You are a respected expert. You invested in the education, training and mentorship necessary to succeed. And, you’ve given up so much on your road to success – from dinners with friends to ballet recitals and more.  

By all empirical measures, you have MADE IT. Walking away can feel foolish – even crazy.  

Here is what no one ever tells you…

The five truths about career change over 40:

  • It is the “messy middle.”  Even if you are typically very put together, you will feel a hot mess when you are in the middle of it.  
  • It will take longer than you think.  When your career has been your identity for 10-20 years, you don’t shed it overnight.  
  • It never moves in a straight line. Career change is full of stops and starts.  You will oscillate between holding onto the old and turning towards the new. This is because you know full-well what you are leaving, but don’t know exactly where you are going.  
  • There are no permission slips.  No one – not your parents, spouse, friends or colleagues – can tell you when your next chapter should start.  
  • It will be unsettling. Being a novice after years of being an expert is hard. All growth takes place outside your comfort zone.

Career change over 40 is increasingly common as career trajectories have lengthened. 

 

For chronically high achievers, being “between chapters” can be disorienting.  You might even experience a sense of loss – saying goodbye to what you have to discover what you want.      

There is no secret playbook for a successful career change over 40.  No one is going to tell you what you “should” do. It’s an unscripted process.  There are no rules. There is no one to measure yourself against. And, there is no diploma or grade at the finish line.

But here’s the good news: this is a “choose your own adventure story” where YOU are the hero AND you get to write the ending.  YOU choose your next move.  YOU decide where you end up.  

So, what can you do when it’s time for a career change over 40?

 So, what can you do when it’s time for a career change over 40? 

Here are five actions you can take:

  • Find a mantra. You need to combat those mean girls in your head with some positivity. 
  • Put your butt where your heart is. You need to prototype your new career and determine whether you’re going to like it.  
    • If you want to be a writer, write. 
    • If you want to own a coffee shop, take a part-time job to learn the business.  
    • If you want to be a Chief Operating Officer, ask your COO if you can shadow her for a day.
  • Activate your network. If you aren’t sure what your next step should be, go on LinkedIn and make a list of 15 people whose positions interest you. 
  • Always be learning. Find a class that speaks to you and dive right in. Remind yourself that you can learn something new and re-enter that novice mindset.  
  • Have more fun! Reconnect with who you are separate and apart from work. Start new hobbies. Make new friends. Volunteer. Once you have a full, rich, multi-dimensional life outside of the office, you will be much less defined by what you do.

The bottom line is this: You cannot think your way through a career change over 40, you have to take action.

 

Career Change Over 40 Changing careers over 40 is daunting. You’ve spent a decade or more developing the skills and experience necessary to excel in THIS field. You are a respected expert. You invested in the education, training and mentorship necessary to succeed. And, you’ve given up so much on your road to success – from dinners with friends to ballet recitals and more. By all empirical measures, you have MADE IT. Walking away can feel foolish – even crazy. Here is what no one ever tells you… The five truths about career change over 40: It is the “messy middle.” Even if you are typically very put together, you will feel a hot mess when you are in the middle of it. It will take longer than you think. When your career has been your identity for 10-20 years, you don’t shed it overnight. It never moves in a straight line. Career change is full of stops and starts. You will oscillate between holding onto the old and turning towards the new. This is because you know full-well what you are leaving, but don’t know exactly where you are going. There are no permission slips. No one – not your parents, spouse, friends or colleagues – can tell you when your next chapter should start. It will be unsettling. Being a novice after years of being an expert is hard. All growth takes place outside your comfort zone. Career change over 40 is increasingly common as career trajectories have lengthened. For chronically high achievers, being “between chapters” can be disorienting. You might even experience a sense of loss – saying goodbye to what you have to discover what you want. There is no secret playbook for a successful career change over 40. No one is going to tell you what you “should” do. It’s an unscripted process. There are no rules. There is no one to measure yourself against. And, there is no diploma or grade at the finish line. But here’s the good news: this is a “choose your own adventure story” where YOU are the hero AND you get to write the ending. YOU choose your next move. YOU decide where you end up. So, what can you do when it’s time for a career change over 40? Here are five actions you can take: Find a mantra. You need to combat those mean girls in your head with some positivity. Put your butt where your heart is. You need to prototype your new career and determine whether you’re going to like it. If you want to be a writer, write. If you want to own a coffee shop, take a part-time job to learn the business. If you want to be a Chief Operating Officer, ask your COO if you can shadow her for a day. Activate your network. If you aren’t sure what your next step should be, go on LinkedIn and make a list of 15 people whose positions interest you. Always be learning. Find a class that speaks to you and dive right in. Remind yourself that you can learn something new and re-enter that novice mindset. Have more fun! Reconnect with who you are separate and apart from work. Start new hobbies. Make new friends. Volunteer. Once you have a full, rich, multi-dimensional life outside of the office, you will be much less defined by what you do. The bottom line is this: You cannot think your way through a career change over 40, you have to take action. Professor Herminia Ibarra put it bluntly: “Introspection without experimentation is daydreaming.” So, stop thinking about making a career change and do one thing. Make a promise to yourself that you are going to take action on ONE item from this list this week. And, then keep that promise. Just like you keep your promises to your boss, your clients, your husband, and your children. For me, I started with the mantra: “You are brave to bet on yourself.” It’s a bet I’ve never regretted. Do you feel stuck where you are, and yearn for something more? If so, book your complimentary Wayfinders Discovery call today. Blog Post Inspired by Herminia Ibarra. Additional Resources: Book – Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived Joyful Life Book – When to Jump: If the Job You Have Isn’t the Life You Want Article - Three Phases of a Making Major Life Change. Article – Immunity to Change Podcast – Unlock Your Creative Genius Podcast – You MatterProfessor Herminia Ibarra put it bluntly: “Introspection without experimentation is daydreaming.”

So, stop thinking about making a career change and do one thing.  

Make a promise to yourself that you are going to take action on ONE item from this list this week.  And, then keep that promise.  Just like you keep your promises to your boss, your clients, your husband, and your children. 

For me, I started with the mantra: “You are brave to bet on yourself.” 

It’s a bet I’ve never regretted.  

 

 


Blog Post Inspired by Herminia Ibarra.

Additional Resources:
Book – Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived Joyful Life
Book – When to Jump: If the Job You Have Isn’t the Life You Want
Article – Three Phases of a Making Major Life Change.
Article – Immunity to Change
Podcast – Unlock Your Creative Genius
Podcast – You Matter

 

 

Even Stars Need Coaches!

Do you feel stuck where you are, and think a career change might be the right move for you? If so, book your complimentary Wayfinders Discovery call today.

Sarah-Nell Walsh

Sarah-Nell Walsh is an executive coach, former attorney, and Founder of Wayfinders, LLC. Equal parts big-hearted cheerleader and bold challenger, she works with ambitious professionals, executives, and lawyers who want to perform at the top of their game. Wayfinders has a business development coach for lawyers, a leadership coach for executives, and a transition coach for professionals. We work with all our clients to make their desired impact on their organizations, their families, and the world.

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