30 Reasons Why It's Time to Make a Midlife Career Change
Updated: Feb 1
It’s scary making a career change. The prospect of changing your career, especially with retirement on your horizon, can be daunting – but the idea of stagnating in a career you hate or staying in a situation of great uncertainty is often worse. The good news is – it’s entirely possible to make a career change at 40, 50, or any age! It’s time to consider a move that will better support your family, better use your skills, shore up professional uncertainty, or make you happier.
It's never too early to plan for your future. Fundamental reinvention takes time, careful planning, and the ability to adapt to unexpected twists and turns. Starting the process sooner rather than later avoids operating in crisis mode. The more space you allow for the process to unfold, the greater your opportunities for customizing a solid long-term solution. Let's consider why changing your career in midlife or later makes sense.
Honoring Your Personal and Professional Evolution
1. You have a better understanding of yourself, life, and the world since selecting your field.
It seems crazy that most of us pick our careers at 17-18 when we know so little about ourselves, and our parents, teachers, coaches, or clergy have extraordinary influence on our direction.
Now that you know yourself better, understand life a bit more, and have a perspective of the world that is shaped by experience – you are ready to determine how you want to apply your talents and the impact you desire to make in the world.
2. You have a better idea of what you want.
One of the most significant benefits of getting older is knowing who you are and what you want out of life. Life experience helps us determine what we want and what we don't want from life. This type of wisdom arrives around age 40 after most of us have reached several life milestones, such as building credibility as a professional, getting married, and starting a family. We can finally find a moment to pause and reflect. At 40+, you have a better chance of finding the role you want that will give you more career satisfaction so you can be confident in your choices, knowing they are right for you.
3. Your values have changed.
People's values tend to change over the course of a lifetime. Values that suited you in childhood change as you mature and learn to navigate the world. What made sense to you when you were single may no longer makes sense when you are married or have children. What made sense to you as a parent may no longer makes sense when you retire. Many themes remain the same over the years, but not all of them do.
People have an innate sense of values and personal preferences that tend to get buried under layers of social demands and expectations. Part of your journey involves gradually rediscovering these innate and highly personal desires, which get unconsciously hidden when they conflict with society's demands. For instance, you may desire to be a dancer, but you become a banker simply because this pleases your worried parents.
Your values are your best guide to living a better life. 40+ is the time of your life when you can lean into a wholly authentic version of yourself. Let changes in your values and priorities guide your exploration of career options that better align with who you are today.
4. You Can Better Utilize Your Experience
It may seem a disadvantage to change careers in your 40s, 50s, or 60s. But the reality is, the more life and career experience you have, the better off you are, period.
Undoubtedly, you've grown personally and professionally since your first job. You’ve learned to share freely in meetings, work constructively with difficult team members, maintain productivity with self-talk, and reinvent yourself repeatedly.
Your experience is a commodity. You've spent considerable time gaining critical industry skills and experience. You've also honed your soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, time management, and problem-solving. You've proven that you can learn new things and adapt. So, moving to a new career, you can focus on what you don't know while transferring what you do know and letting your specific skills bring a fresh perspective to a new career.
5. You can make better use of your talents.
Imagine how great it would feel to spotlight your best abilities and favorite projects day in and day out. There’s no point in having a professional superpower that mainly goes untapped in your current position. Choosing a new career that focuses on your strengths and passions and working out how to use your skills in a new context is immensely satisfying.
6. You are returning from time away from the workplace.
If you are returning from a sabbatical, paternity/maternity leave, or some other kind of career break, returning to your old job or even your old professional may feel like traveling back in time. Depending on the length, reason, and circumstances surrounding your break, you may have changed as a person, so why not honor that evolution and change your career upon your return?
Making a Fresh Start
7. Combatting Career Complacency
A desire for job security often drives career complacency and immobility. Some aspects of your career have become increasingly valuable to you, whether it's your salary, a set schedule, or work-from-home flexibility. If you stay in a role out of habit or complacency, be assured it will eventually show up in your performance.
8. Recovering from a perceived failure
Let’s face it; we’ve all failed – often quite spectacularly. We all fall, but we don’t have to stay down. Focusing on failure makes us dangerously susceptible to burnout. If you choose to, you have the power to make a new start in a space that inspires you to do your best work.
Needing a New Challenge.
9. Reengaging intellectually and emotionally
Intellectual and emotional health, happiness, and life satisfaction grow when faced with new challenges you are excited to solve. Listen to your gut when it tells you you need to step into something new.
The benefit of stepping into the unknown, although scary, is that it engages you mentally and develops your problem-solving skills. Any new pursuit is scary, but don’t let that keep you stuck.
10. Benefitting from a change of scenery
If your days melt together and your professional life seems monotonous, a change of scenery or routine can improve your mood. Something as simple as introducing variety in our daily routines can increase our sense of well-being. Researchers have found that having new and diverse experiences daily is linked to positive emotions and enhances happiness. A career change can give you the uplifting environment you seek. Many people rediscovered their lost energy and excellence with a career and work environment change.
11. Reminding yourself why you are great
A career change might be the ticket when you require a push to try new things. Venturing outside your comfort zone encourages you to gain new knowledge and skills to spice things up. Throwing yourself into a new career is exciting. You're never too old or young to inject some much-needed excitement into your career.
12. You're coasting — and it's becoming a problem.
The calm after the storm or period of peace after a period of great effort can cause some professionals to use that moment to coast. I have seen many working professionals find their comfort zone and stay in it. However, the longer professionals coast, the more they have to lose.
Coasting keeps you playing small and eliminates the possibility of fulfilling your potential. The longer you stay put, the more energy is required to restart and gain momentum in pursuit of self-growth.
Settling into a space that is void of challenges and stimulation truncates your learning and desire to aim for more. Get re-inspired now by changing careers to avoid career obsolescence later.
13. Staying competitive and relevant.
Changing your career and working with a new team or manager can mean taking on more diverse responsibilities, expanding your existing skillset, and learning from other professionals. This keeps you engaged and improves your future marketability in the ever-more-co