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40 Reasons To Switch Careers After 40
Thomas Edison once quipped that man’s greatest weakness lies in giving up. “The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time,” said the famous inventor.
If Edison and his team of researchers gave up after more than 3000 tries, the light bulb might have never been invented.
A never say die attitude is admirable everywhere, except when discussing careers. Quitting a job, leaving a company, or giving up a career you spent years building isn’t an easy decision, even when it’s the right call.
Here are 40 logical reasons to switch careers after the age of 40. Most may not apply to your specific situation, but if more than a few hit the nail on the head, it’s time to brush up the resume, launch a new business, or explore new career paths.
Few jobs have true security
Many Generation Xers were raised to think of only pursuing careers in safe industries. Truth be told, no job is ever really safe.
Huge companies, corporations, and brands shut down all the time. At one time, being named the CEO of Toys R’ Us or Brookstone meant financial and job security for possibly a lifetime. Now, no company seems susceptible to downsizing.
You’re in the prime of your potential
According to PayScale, full-time workers with Bachelor’s degrees tend to earn their highest income in their 40s and 50s. If making the most money in your present career is important, stick around.
After your 40s? Your salary will remain about the same. Unfortunately, your responsibilities in the company will likely increase since you make the most money and have been with the organization the longest.
You’re never too old to start something new
The adage that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is really just an excuse for old, stubborn dogs.
Every day, you’re learning a new trick, either on a smartphone, a computer, on the daily commute, in the gym, or anyplace continually adapting to changes is a necessary component for growth.
The key to learning new tricks is confidence based repetition. Repeating the new method over and over until performing it on command becomes second nature.
You don’t really love your job
A 2017 survey found that people don’t don’t actually hate their jobs. Less than 10% of the people surveyed said they hated their job. Over 53% of the study group said they loved their job.
This could very well be true, but the question must be asked: “do these people love their current position or do they have a true passion for what they do?” Some people might love their job only because it’s easy, they’re the boss, the hours are flexible, the pay is substantial, job security exists and hundreds of other reasons.
It’s entirely possible to love a job without really being invested in work.
You really don’t feel anything about your job
Circling back to the survey above, 36.9 percent of the people polled admitted to feeling neutral about their job. They didn’t love the position but didn’t feel strongly enough about the job to say they hated going to work.
Having zero feelings about a job might be worse than hating going to work. There’s no worse feeling in life than going through the motions, clocking in and out, putting in the time just to collect the paycheck and daydream about other pursuits.
No one would ever admit “I don’t love or hate my husband, I’m neutral” or “It’s fine if my favorite team wins or loses, I don’t mind either outcome.” Jobs and career is the only instance where a neutral stance is entirely acceptable.
You’re financially stable
You’ve pinched pennies, invested wisely, kept debt low and would feel financially secure if everything came crashing down and a layoff looms at the end of the week.
So if you’re ready in case of emergency, why not take the leap?
Here’s how much money the average 40-year-old should have stashed away. If you’re amount equals or succeeds this number, it’s time to consider taking some career chances.
You’re not the same person
To pay off student loans, you likely took the first job offer right out of college. That first opportunity led to another, and then another, and the career path brought you to the position you hold now.
Our personalities evolve over time due to life changes, societal changes and countless other outside factors.
Are you really the same person you were at the age of 21? If 41-year-old you is drastically different than your 21-year-old self, why would you stay in the same career that interests only 21-year-old you?
Because your “dream job” might be holding you back
Heather Monahan rapidly climbed the radio sales ranks and eventually landed in the role of Chief Revenue Officer. In 2017, she was recognized as a Glass Ceiling Award winner and named one of the Most Influential Women in radio. She was finally where she wanted to be.
That same year, she was unexpectedly let go.
Monahan could have easily found another job in radio. Instead, the 43-year-old pursued her own passions to elevate others to do the same. She soon realized that her “dream job” wasn’t actually fueling her real dream.
“By making the leap and leaving that old environment, I was able to get clear on who was trying to hold me back and how much that was affecting me without even realizing it at the time. Ripping that band-aid off forced me to take a hard look at how I was allowing myself to be treated and how I was going to change that moving forward.”
Utilize those LinkedIn connections
Are you letting a robust LinkedIn profile with hundreds of connections go to waste? Most likely.
With 260 million active users, a connection to your next career is just a button click away.
Join active groups, attend conferences, constructively contribute to conversations, reach out to college friends and open yourself up to more opportunities.
You’re current job is making you sick
Your job could be making you sick, and you don’t even realize career is the culprit.
Stress at work can keep you up at night, lead to excessive use of drugs and alcohol and contribute to advanced health risks like depression and heart disease.
There will never be a right time
There’s a strong chance you contemplated a career change long before you clicked on this article. If you’re yet to take the leap, you’ve probably come close but talked yourself away from the ledge with the excuse that “it’s not the right time.”
Stop kidding yourself. There will never be a right time. You’ll never have enough money, the kids will never be the right age, you’ll never have enough in the bank, the job market will never be perfect, and you’ll never feel absolutely confident it’s the right decision.
Waiting for the perfect time is just your brain trying to talk you out of following your gut.
Some people don’t see success until after 40
Sit down for this surprising fact – if you took a chance on a new career after the age of 40, you would not be alone. Shocking!
Okay, not that surprising, but what you might find astonishing is that some of the most successful people in the world didn’t really hit their stride until after celebrating the big 4-0.
Martha Stewart, Henry Ford and a guy named Abe Lincoln didn’t become world-conquerers until after the age of 40. Ray Kroc, the man behind McDonald’s going global, was a traveling salesman until the age of 52. Sam Walton opened his first Wal-Mart at 44!
Are you the next Martha or Abe?
You’re no longer worried what people think
There are many positives – and a couple negatives – about turning 40. One of the most significant benefits at this age is you slowly stop giving a crap what other people think about you.
Call it the embarrassment reflex – the little voice inside that claims “people are watching your every move, don’t do anything to look like a fool.”
That voice slowly dissipates after coming to the realization that other people are thinking about you, or watching your every move, as much as you think.
You’re expected to go through a mid-life crisis
Think about your friend, the one who’s always doing insane things out in public. He’s the guy crashing weddings, photobombing famous people, and generally getting into crazy situations on a daily basis.
After a while, his antics become second-nature because “that’s just what he does.”
Well, everyone goes through a life-change at 40, but it doesn’t have to be a crisis. If you’re expected to make sweeping changes at this age, few people will blink an eye when it actually happens.
Your priorities are way different now
With age comes different priorities. Two of those priorities are directly connected to career. After 40, happiness in life trumps achievement, and you become much better at detecting and eliminating toxic relationships.
If your current job involves more bad days than good, or your workplace is incredibly toxic, it’s time to make an exit.
If you don’t take the leap, you’ll regret it forever
Regrets. By age 40, you’ll likely have a few, but to quote Frank Sinatra hopefully “too few to mention.”
Still, regret is a powerful motivational tool, and there are few quotes more haunting than motivational guru Les Brown’s observations on not taking chances while alive.
Brown has often said:
“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.”
40 is the time to change many things in life
Turning 40 comes with many proclamations of healthy changes. This will be the year to get in shape finally, lose weight, travel more, complain less and do everything that may negatively affect life and health in the years to come.
If you’re making numerous physical changes, then a career change is also a wise move. Especially if your job is a real obstacle for overcoming unhealthy habits.
It’s hard to stick to a healthy eating plan if you’re shoving free food in the office kitchen into your mouth. Traveling more isn’t possible if your job offers little vacation time.
Make sure the place your spending 8 hours a day isn’t derailing your attempts to live a healthier lifestyle.
You might be missing out on bigger money
Every job has a ceiling. There’s a limit to job title and the monetary compensation.
So what if the new career has double or triple the eventual earning potential, but you’re too scared to make the leap because of the early losses in salary?
Even though a new career in a new line of work could mean a loss of wages now, it’s important to see the bigger picture in future income and possible avenues of advancement.
Some industries are experiencing a shortage
Depending on your career interests, your intended field could be experiencing tremendous lows in the number of qualified applicants. This means more opportunities for a 40-year-old upstart like yourself!
Skilled trades, such as electricians, carpenters, mechanics, and plumbers are hungry for workers, and IT analysts, highly qualified medical personnel and engineers and architects are always needed.
You need to update your resume anyway
When was the last time you updated your resume? Not your LinkedIn profile but the hard copy version of your resume.
If you’ve had the same job for 20 years, well, the answer is obvious.
Keeping your resume updated is a smart idea, even if you’re not actively looking for employment. It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have one and not be prepared at all.
You already make money off your hobbies
There are thousands of opportunities to make extra cash or cultivate a side hustle. Millions of people each year are turning hobbies into ways of making extra money.
If putting more time into a lucrative side business will turn the hobby into a full-time job, you owe it to yourself to explore that option as a viable work possibility.
Your job has been slowly pushing you out
Every job is a relationship, and just like romantic relationships, a person can sense when something is going wrong in the union.
While the organization might not actively be looking to terminate, there’s a strong possibility they’re doing everything in their power in the hopes you’ll quit.
Do you really want to spend every day in a place you’re not welcome?
You don’t see any future at the company
The quickest way to determine if you’ve outgrown your job or company is to take a long hard look at the people higher up on the food chain.
Take a moment to think about your boss. If the opportunity arose, would you want his or her job? How about the person he or she answers too? Would you want that job if it fell into your lap?
If the answer is “no!” on both counts, there’s no need to stick around any longer. If you don’t want to move up, and staying put isn’t an option, the only way is out.
There’s an entrepreneurial spirit in everyone
Chuck Garrity spent two decades traveling across the country helping people build their business. This was great for job security, but he soon came to the realization that the smarter move was starting his own business.
Garrity’s 20 years experience as an executive in the healthcare technology field trained him well. He took a risk and founded Death of the Fox Brewing, New Jersey’s first craft brewery and coffeehouse experience.
“I essentially took many of the skills I acquired in my corporate job to create something distinctly anti-corporate. At 44, I released my inner punk rocker!”
Because sometimes you overstay your welcome
Job security can sometimes be a curse. Especially when a company is keeping you around because its easier than looking for other options.
Kimberly Fisher worked in higher education for over 20 years, 16 years in one position. After being laid off at 40, Fisher came to the realization that she stuck around in her job for far too long.
“I actually had done myself a disservice staying in higher education for as long as I had.”
There’s a good chance you’d bail on a relationship where neither person really wanted to be with the other. Why stick around a job you don’t want, especially if it’s obvious the company no longer wants you around?
Experience is a commodity
Years on the job have given you a wealth of business experience, many of which aren’t necessarily listed on a resume. That experience will translate even if switching to a completely different career.
“Having gone from corporate America into entrepreneurship at 43 years old has paid major dividends for a few reasons,” explains Monahan. “I was able to take the experiences I created in corporate America and put them to work for me in my own company. I had finally built sustainable confidence in myself, so I was able to take a leap of faith and create my own company.”
It’s possible to learn from negative job experiences
Monahan continues, “Leaving that old traditional radio company that I had worked for allowed me to see what I wanted to create and how I wanted to do things differently now that I was in charge. Having those negative experiences and then getting away from those negative people allows you to know exactly how you don’t want to do things.”
You’re alive but are you living?
Many people reply to the question “so how are you doing?” with the response that they’re alive, so that’s something to be thankful for every day.
While this is true, there’s a significant difference between being alive and living a life.
Scott Petinga is a serial entrepreneur who’s lucky to be alive after being hit by a car at age 18 and being diagnosed with testicular cancer at 31.
“Too many people remain stuck with bland lives, careers they hate and accept only a modicum of accomplishment,” he explains. “Yes, you’re alive, but it is a far cry from living. Be dynamic, pursue your passion, take someone’s breath away, live on the edge, inspire others, love unconditionally, never be satisfied, forget your past, love your mother, be a warrior, don’t over analyze, don’t wish for anything — work for it and most importantly, screw mediocrity.”
Everything is a “risk”
People over 40 refuse to take the leap into a new career because of the risk involved, but as former motivational guru Jim Rohn regularly preached, the avoiding risk in life, is in itself, a risk.
“It’s all risky. The minute you were born it got risky. If you think trying is risky, wait until they hand you the bill for not trying.”
40 is only halftime
Remember that NFL team behind by two touchdowns who refused to leave the locker room after halftime? The head coach told the league “we saw enough in the first half. We’re just going to sit here until the stadium empties out.”
That sounds ridiculous, right?
In 1968, the life expectancy for the average man was 68 years old. Turning 40 meant a man, statistically speaking, was a few short years away from entering the final 1/3 of his life. Now, the average life expectancy for men is 76. For women, it’s 81.
Turning 40 is just halftime. You’ve still got two entire quarters left to play.
Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed
Don’t put off major life decisions until tomorrow. There might not be a tomorrow.
“Not one of us is ever guaranteed that we will wake up,” explains Petinga. “Waiting until tomorrow may actually be too late. Plus, those who experience feelings of satisfaction about their life are more likely to live to an older age.”
You’re old enough to know what you don’t want
Hopefully, by the age of 40, a person knows what they want in life. At the very least, an individual knows what they don’t want in life.
This is precisely why the ages of 40 and above the perfect time to up and quit a job that’s unfulfilling, unrewarding, and possibly an eventual dead end.
Your job serves no greater good
In the classic film Office Space, Tom Smykowski is asked to explain his job to the two men who ultimately seal his fate. He’s asked, “why can’t the customers take their specifications right to the software people?”
At that moment, it becomes painfully apparent to all parties that Tom’s job is pointless.
It’s been said that most jobs are created because someone, at some point, didn’t want to perform a specific task associated with their job. So another position is established to handle one primary function.
If your job can best be described as “completing repetitive tasks, so other people don’t have to”then it’s time to take a baseball bat to the copier and hand in your notice.
Your company serves no greater good
What exactly does your company do?
Now unless you’re in organized crime, your organization does fill some purpose, but if the company were to disappear today, how many people would be impacted?
If you work at a hospital that shuttered tomorrow, thousands of lives would be affected. If you’re working customer service for Potato Parcel, and the company went peels-up, the world would keep spinning.
Working a job that serves a greater good is a more rewarding experience. Even if you get paid less.
Because it’s all up to you
Petinga stresses the importance of relying on your most important commodity – yourself.
“So often I hear older people say that it would be so hard to succeed if they left their current company because no one wants older talent. Remember if that is your reality then that is what you will create. I see it so differently. Why wouldn’t I be successful? With the track record I have and the experience I have under my belt it almost seems impossible for me to fail.”
If you can’t exactly explain what you do
This scenario usually plays out in every social setting that involves meeting new people. The small talk inevitably turns to career, and you’re asked the dreaded question “so what do you do for work?”
You’ve likely got an automated response since you’re asked so often. If this is true, and you sometimes can’t get through the entire explanation without saying “oh it’s boring, but it pays the bills,” it’s time to move on.
You hate talking about your job
The step beyond being unable to explain precisely what you get paid to do is feeling so completely unfulfilled that you’d rather not even get into the details.
If you avoid talking about your job at all costs, there’s no reason to even show up for work tomorrow.
Turning 40 means finding a career or job worth bragging about.
You can become an expert on your own time
Not long ago, if a person over 40 wanted to make a career change, it meant climbing down the ladder to accept an apprenticeship or entry-level position.
An individual can now dedicate a few hours each night to learning a skill just by watching YouTube clips or downloading how-to books right to their phone. It’s possible to become an expert in any field without ever leaving your living room.
There’s never been a better time
With so many opportunities available today, it’s astounding more people don’t forgo the typical career for a new and exciting course.
From podcast producer and mobile app developer to SEO expert or data scientist, there are thousands of excellent and well-paying jobs that didn’t exist ten years ago.
Your new venture could lead to helping others
A new business venture might be beneficial to more than just your happiness and bottom line.
Garrity realized his dream of opening a brewery while also helping his own community.
“I found it incredibly rewarding to start my own business in my hometown, partner with other local small businesses, and create something unique and innovative (and delicious) in my own backyard.” – Charles Garrity
Don’t pursue a passion
If you know that a career change is necessary, you’re probably under the impression that “following your passion” is the best advice.
Wrong. Don’t follow your passion. Billionaire Mark Cuban thinks passion is bull. He thinks “following your passion” is the worst career advice ever.
Cuban wrote in a 2012 blog post that following your passion is a bad idea. Instead, the Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank star suggested
“Look at where you apply your time. … You may or may not realize it yet, but how you use or don’t use your time is going to be the best indication of where your future is going to take you.”
You agreed with most of this list
You read this entire list of 40 reasons to switch careers after 40 and agreed with more than half. Isn’t that enough of a clue that the time has come to get a new job?