Can you start a new career in your 40s?

Change careers in your 40s: Learn how Luminous Consulting can help

The short answer is: Yes, absolutely. (I am living proof that it can be done).

The long answer is: Yes, and … it takes self-knowledge, a sense of purpose, and a healthy dose of self-belief.

Self-knowledge

Understanding what makes you tick is the first, and arguably the most important, step in changing careers. If you are unclear about your values, your interests, your strengths and motivations, then you won’t know what to look for, and you won’t spot the best opportunities when they present themselves.

Of course, these things are important at any age, but in our 40s and 50s it’s particularly important because, rightly or wrongly, we can feel that there are less options open to us and that there’s more riding on making the ‘right’ choice.

With enhanced self-knowledge, you are much more likely to identify and secure roles that will allow you to play to your strengths and thrive.

Sense of purpose

Many of us fall into a career due to circumstance rather than choice, and spend years building up expertise in a particular field. But there comes a point where being masters of our craft is not enough. It has to feel meaningful.

Which is one of the reasons why so many in people in their 40s do change career.

What is meaningful for one person, of course, is not necessarily meaningful for another. For some, the purpose of the organisation they work for is most important. For others, their sense of purpose might come from the impact they have on the lives of individuals in the work they do every day.

Having a clear sense of what is meaningful to you will help you identify and secure roles more suited to your values, allowing your passion and enthusiasm for your work to shine through.

Self-belief

Recognising the need to change is one thing, believing you can do it another. Regardless of how motivated you are to change career paths, it takes courage and persistence to make it happen.

Of all the potential barriers people face when changing careers later in life, it’s more often the mindsets and self-confidence that will trip them up, than the actual job market.

Having support to deal with unhelpful mindsets and to help build confidence is crucial in the transition phase. Otherwise you’ll end up feeling like your wheels are spinning, unable to gain traction.

If you don’t feel you have a sense of purpose, or if persistence and self-confidence are not your strong points, it doesn’t mean you can’t change careers in your 40s – you just might need some help along the way. Get in touch.

You can read more articles on making a career change here.

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About the author: Lucy Sanderson-Gammon, MBA, is a Wellington-based career coach helping mid-career professionals who have fallen out of love with their jobs to find meaningful work. Find out more about Lucy's coaching services here.