Have you ever felt those Sunday night blues? That feeling of dread that can permeate an entire weekend. As Monday inches closer, in the pit of your stomach, there is an undercurrent of, “But I don’t want to go to the office.”
Often, many of us choose our careers in our early twenties, before we truly know ourselves. As we become a bit wiser and more in tune with ourselves, interests, and passions, our early career choice may no longer be a fit. As we step into our 30s and 40s, we may yearn to follow a career that feels more authentic. We start to wonder whether making a career change is actually viable.
Is a career change in your 30s or 40s possible?
What if you are a 36-year-old teacher, who has just been offered the position of Vice-Principal? What if you are a 45-year-old Medical Doctor who has spent years building your private practice who’s bored and now wants to learn how to become an occupational therapist assistant? You have worked so hard to have stability, and it’s finally paying off. How can someone in varying degrees or stages in their career path make a change (even a drastic one) successfully? First, it’s important to remember, that a career change, whether in your 30s or 40s, is completely plausible.
“Professionally, I’ve been an attorney for 12 years. Several years ago, I took my passion for writing and turned it into a top-certified career and also became a Branding Expert,” says Wendi Weiner. She is now a Career Branding Expert, Career Coach, 4X Certified Executive Resume Writer, and contributor for The Huffington Post. Weiner made the leap of faith at age 36. Not only did she land successfully on both feet, Weiner knows that changing careers well into your adult life is very possible. And, you will thrive if it’s done right.
Does level of career commitment that often comes with age make a difference?
In her early 30s, Weiner wouldn’t have taken such a bold risk to change her career. She feared losing the stability of being an established lawyer and professor, explains Weiner. “I think as you inch closer to forty and enter them, you have established yourself enough to feel that you have a valued skillset that can be transferrable to another industry or career path,” says Weiner. Often, a woman in her thirties, is still in the process of building a solid career. And transitioning during the ‘construction’ phase of anything is scary. Especially with something as fundamental as a job.
Perhaps, in your 40s, you are more stabilized and your role has been established. So, you know where you stand. There might be a level of solid comfort in your current position, and that, too, can be hard to let go of. With this in mind, what can a thirty-something do differently to prepare for the winds of change?
“Make sure it’s something that you really love and you are passionate about. Have a long-term goal or plan for switching to a new career path. And, make sure that you aren’t just having a bad day or bad month,” says Weiner. And if you are in your forties, you should follow the same advice. But additionally, look back at your career path and see what the pros are and cons are, and how you will pivot the change, notes Weiner.
Now, down to the nitty gritty. What do the pros have to say about how a woman at any age can do to prep the transition? Tesla Miller forged a bold path in Global Leadership. Then, at forty, changed directions to join a 15-billion-dollar industry with her company The Fifth House. Miller suggests the following.
What does it take to prep for your career transition?
1. Define what it is you want to do or where you want to be.
“If you’re not sure, I recommend doing the “Strength Finder” test by Gallup to identify your strengths. Do your strengths translate to a career change? And so, this, in turn, should help women plan a path that best suits their innate gifts. It will help them choose a career change that helps them pursue their bliss,” says Miller.
2. Consider how they measure the word “success.”
If someone’s end goal is “success,” it’s helpful to work backwards to see how to attain a specific type of achievement. “For some women ‘success’ will mean fame, fortune, helping the less fortunate, finding cures to diseases, designing gadgets or becoming an entrepreneur – work backwards,” notes Miller.
If you know what you want, it’s much easier to create a road map to get there. Then, you can begin saying ‘yes’ to what you want and ‘no’ to what doesn’t suit you.
3. Seek out professionals.
Buddy up with numerous, like-minded, and successful leaders in the field you want to move into. Interview and shadow them. This exposure to the industry and others who are thriving in it will begin to give you confidence in your own abilities and to see that it is possible to do what they do.
4. Join industry associations, boards, and organizations in your area of interest.
Get involved and make an impact in your prospective industry, and most importantly, begin to build a name and brand yourself before you make the leap. “It will make it that much easier and the networking will support your goals,” says Miller.
5. Start saving money now.
If you can, start saving, so that you have a financial cushion to support the transition and to have something to fall back on if the change is not what you expected.
And in the end, it isn’t easy to take the plunge into the unknown. “It was scary as hell,” expresses Miller about switching from Global Leadership to becoming a CEO. It might be frightening to make a change, but the rewards are incredible. “I look forward to work every day. I never have the Sunday night or Monday through Friday blues,” says Weiner.