5 Reasons It Is Never Too Late to Change Your Career

business career cv Feb 17, 2020

One thing that is consistent in the world of work today is that it is continually changing, and that change seems to be getting faster.

It is reckoned that someone joining the workforce today will have three or four different careers, either through choice or because of changes to their organisation or industry. When I started work, had I ever considered the question (which I’m fairly sure I didn’t back then), I probably would have expected to be a cartographer for the whole of my working life, probably with the same government department.

Are you an exception?

So, I’m an exception compared with many of my generation in that I’m on my third career. I loved cartography although I wouldn’t say I had a passion for it. I enjoyed computer systems development: the money was good, the people were nice, the work was fine, but there was something missing. Career Coaching on the other hand - I love it! I have a passion for it, and I can’t think of a better career for me. So what about you?

Are you a serial career changer or are you in the same career you’ve always been in?

It's all about what’s right for you.

There’s nothing wrong with either, by-the-way. This is NOT about judging one thing as better than another. After all, it’s all about what is right for you. I have met plenty of people who are very happy in their career and some have been working for the same organisation for many years. Sometimes their whole working life, and they’ve progressed, evolved, loved it all.

But I’ve also worked with many people who are not happy in their career, but think that because that is what they have always done, they can’t do anything else.

Reasons include:

  • It’s too late to change career at my age (I get this from people in their late 30s upwards)
  • I can’t do anything else. Being a [insert your job title] is all I can do
  • Even more strongly, I am a [insert your job title] so I can’t change now. (This is subtly different from the previous one because it’s an identity level belief (I am …)
  • I haven’t got any transferrable skills
  • I’ve got commitments and I don’t want to start at the bottom again

Does any of that resonate with you?

Would you desperately like to change career, or at least explore the possibility?

People don’t generally look back and regret what they did, but they do regret not having tried.

So, if there is any aspect of your career that you are unhappy with, you owe it to yourself, and those around you, to at least explore the possibility of finding something that makes you totally happy.

I’m going to give you five key reasons, relating to the excuses above, why it is never too late to change your career, and then a bonus tip to tell you how to change career without actually changing your role or organisation.

  1. It is never too late to change your career. My last change was at age 38 although I’d say it’s evolved continually since. I’ve worked with people into their 50s who’ve made significant career changes: one of my favourite examples was a chap who in his late forties changed from the oil industry into teaching maths and astronomy in a high school. My Mum “retired”, went to university, eventually did a phd and then had her first book published in her 80s. Do you get the message? It’s never too late to make a different choice.
  2. I can’t do anything else. YES YOU CAN. Only if you want to, of course. If you break down your current role into the different tasks and then look at how you do each of those tasks, you’ll notice that each one demonstrates a range of skills and qualities. Most of those will appear again and again as you look at other things you do. Therefore they are transferable and you can transfer them into a different career.
  3. I am a [insert job title] so I can’t change now. As I suggested, this is an identity level belief. It links to the previous point, but you need to look at your mindset for this one. Are you going to define who you are by your job title? Or are you more than just a job title? Is it your choice!
  4. See point 2 for this. Most of your skills are transferable. You just happen to have been using them up to now in the context of your current job and organisation.
  5. Having commitments often does mean that you can’t afford to take a substantial pay cut. Sometimes, your skills will be transferable into a role/industry where you can earn a similar amount. Sometimes they won’t and it may be that there’s a short-term plan to start enjoying your current role more, whilst you put in place a plan that will help you move into an ideal role once the infrastructure is ready. 

Changing careers without moving changing your role or organisation.

I promised a final tip on how to change careers without changing the name on the top of your pay slip. Sometimes changing career is about changing your mindset and attitude towards your career, not about changing your organisation or even your job.

Sometimes when you work through my W-H-O model and really understand what an ideal job is for you, you realise that it’s actually the one you’re in at the moment and it’s just that you need to look at things a bit differently and maybe make a few tweaks.

For example, I worked with a lady a couple of years ago who was mid-career with some leadership responsibility in the IT industry. The start point for our work together was “I hate my job and I need to leave”. Six sessions later she had all the skills to manage her career and move job or even change career whenever she wanted. But, as she said to me, “I’ve realised that I’m in just the right place now and probably for the next couple of years”.

Another lady I worked with just last year was in an administrator role in the legal world. Her start point was that she was unhappy, felt that there was something more, but wasn’t sure exactly what that was, even though she had a few ideas. We explored those options and others which included her gaining the skills to manage and change her career and even become self-employed if she wanted.

Again, after six sessions (I’m just realising, maybe that’s the magic number), she’d come to the decision that where she is right now is the right place to be because of family and other reasons. But, she has a plan for a career move that she’s already working towards so that in a couple of years when her children are a bit older she’ll be ready to make the career change.

Both these two ladies have changed their career from something they disliked to something they like, just by gaining the skills to manage their career effectively and by changing their mindset around work.

Next Steps - Practical Resources:

  1. Start with my free "9 Days to Career Success course" to at least start to understand how you could change.  You’ll discover more about my W-H-O model which will help you in all aspects of your work.
  2. Book a free "discovery session" to discuss with me where you are and how to start.
  3. At the very least, ask yourself “am I happy in my job?”. If the answer isn’t a resounding YES, but you’re not ready for steps 1 and 2, have a look at my blog from 6th January, "What to do if you don't love your job".

Wishing you success in your career.


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