Let us tell you a story. It’s a story about two people who met in college, fell in love, and became successful corporate lawyers. And then something happened that changed life as they knew it.
Nina and her husband Tim Zagat graduated from Yale Law School and started pursuing high-flying legal careers. The juggernaut came when they were working in Paris, occasionally enjoying eating in Parisian restaurants. One fine day, they decided to compile their own list of restaurants based on their likes and dislikes — the Zagat guide. Within two years of its publishing, the guide was selling — hold your breath — 40,000 copies per year!
The Zagats eventually quit their jobs and devoted themselves to the endeavor — a business everyone in the food and restaurant space lauds. Both the Zagats had been in their late 30s.
Why Would Someone Want to Change Careers “That Late in Life”?!
Time and again, we hear of people — and people in their 40s, not only the “young and energetic” — who switched careers to become dizzyingly successful. Donald Fisher, a man with no experience in retail, opened the first Gap store in his 40s. Grandma Moses, one of the world’s most prolific artists, began her painting career at 78. Seventy-eight!
These monumental paradigm-shifts in careers aren’t impossible to fathom. Statistics report that while a higher salary and relocation are common reasons for these changes, many seek to alter their life’s focus. Many seek work that genuinely interests them, that fuels them from within.
Sometime in life, you too may feel stuck in the wrong career. You may feel that an elusive switch, right at the bend of the road, will let you achieve your real potential. But it’s between fantasizing and executing a shift that most of us get lodged, thanks to scepticism, doubt, and the fear of being ridiculed.
Is 40 Too Late to Make a Career Change?
One word: No.
It’s never too late to follow your passion in life or free yourself from a career that stifles your body and soul.
Career Guidance Through the Change: How to Switch After 40
- Enlist a support team: Get your family and friends onboard. Little do you know, they can be excellent career advisors; their support will give you the support YOU need. They may even be able to help you deal with the financial crunch that you can expect early in the transition.
- Get the money ready: Here’s the thumb-rule — set aside up to a year’s living expenses as an emergency fund (minimum six months). Changing careers is a massive step, and you’ve to be prepared for getting along with less money, at least for a while.
- Seek professional career counseling: Look before you leap! Even the smartest people can make ill-considered decisions only to find themselves neither gratified nor, um, paid. It’s highly recommended to get career change advice from an expert. For instance, if you consult Career Futura, their team will take you through a complete career assessment test, analyzing your aptitude and skills, and recommend whether the transition will be lucrative in the long run. You’ll also get an excellent understanding of the job outlook, salary structure and growth prospects in the career you’ve in mind.
- Focus on transferable skills: Worked as a counsellor in school? You’re already good with people, which is important in a Corporate Communications Team. Have full-time parenting experience with a wailing tot? You excel at patience, time management and functioning with little sleep! Keep your transferable skills — from your old job, independent projects, life experiences — in your kit-bag.
- Participate in personal conversations: Now that you’ve started looking for diametrically different career options, your standard CV and cover letter are unlikely to suffice. In a 2016 interview with CNBC, renowned career change coach Natasha Stanley recommends that you “share your passion and life experience and enthusiasm with someone, human being to human being”. So, ditch the impersonal “job hunting” e-mail and start networking in your circle, with referrals from friends, family and colleagues, and on social media.
Pro Tip: Guess what’s one of the sharpest skills you already possess for your new career? Great passion and emotional investment! This can give you a headstart in future interviews.
They say, nothing is permanent but change. Sometimes, to steer your personal and professional life towards happiness, a change is imperative. Don’t let unfounded apprehensions and the fear of “what will people say” hold you back. Build a robust action plan and commit your energies to your dream career, your head held high.
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