Is there an ideal age to change careers? Is there a time when a career change is harder? Are we using our age as an excuse to not take action and to stay stuck? I’ve had clients in their teens, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and sixties and I’m looking for my first septuagenarian (70s). It may be more common in certain decades because life events triggering our awareness of levels of satisfaction but a career change is personal and is not always limited to a one-off event. In fact, some people will have 2 to 3 different careers in their lifetime. I’m personally on number 3.
I strongly believe that a career change does not have to be defined by age and while it is more common to see people making changes in their mid to late 30’s, I am also seeing an increasing number of clients and potential clients in their 50’s. While something may be more common it doesn’t mean it’s the only age you can make a career change and that there are other reasons behind this. By the time we hit our mid to late 30’s we have established ourselves in our profession but we may get to a point where it’s not clear what is next, what once motivated us, the money, the status is no longer working and we start to search wider. For those in their 50’s with children, there is a chance that the kids have flown the nest, a job that supported the family, that worked around the kids is no longer key and perhaps a level of financial freedom means new opportunities can be explored.
We enter the workforce with one set of priorities and for many of us, this is about proving our credibility in our chosen field, which we measure through our pay packet, increasing workload and advancement up the promotion ladder because this is what society, has socialised us to define as success. But then something will happen or a combination of events which leads us to question if there is something else out there which is a better fit if we can find greater happiness in another career. Maybe it’s a realization that despite the success we are no longer finding fulfilment in our work, for others it may be an unexpected departure or redundancy from an organisation which focuses the mind and for some, it is an event which shakes us up, a health scare or a bereavement and a recognition that life is short and a conscious decision to make positive changes to our lives.
In fact, there could be an argument that you are better to change careers later when you know what is important to you, what will make you happy and to really get to know your adult self as opposed to what we have been told we should prioritise. Because finding a career that will work for you, starts with acknowledging what you want as a person and getting clear on what you value and where you want to go if you want to find a career that will fit you.
Why do we question if we are too old for a change? Is it that we feel we don’t have the energy as we get older? That no one will employ us? That we are too set in our ways? I would challenge you that these are stories that you are telling yourself, open your eyes and look for contrary evidence to test your story. Look for people your age or older who have made changes.
We all know the energy and alertness of one person aged 60 will vary to another person after all age is but a number. Instead, I would urge you to think and focus on your happiness. It is more and more acceptable to continue to work beyond our retirement, look at the queen. It’s important that if we want to work and/or we need to work that we are doing something that fulfils our needs, whether this is in the work itself or in what it enables us to do, have and who it enables us to be. We deserve to be happy and live our best life.
So NO you are not too old to change careers, you just have to be willing to take action and go on the journey.
If you would like help challenging your age excuses and getting clarity on your next career move then I would love to hear from you. Why not book a complimentary call with me, what have you got to lose?
If you found this blog interesting you may also enjoy the following:
- What is the career change story you are telling?
- 7 Signs it's time to make a career change
- Am I having a midlife crisis or is it time to quit my job?