Is It Too Late to Change Careers?
Sat, 06/07/2014 - 9:37am | by Guest Contributor
There is a wise man who once said that as long as you're alive, it's never too late to make a change. Those are some very wise words and there are people, every day, who are living proof of this very fact.
As a matter of fact, there is a website that has an entire section devoted to those who desire to change their career paths after the age of 50. It's called CareerChangePathways.com (put "late bloomers" in the search field). Some of those individuals include Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, who became a famous environmentalist after the age of 60; Maya Angelou who was also in her 60s when her writings became internationally recognized and of course, Colonel Harland Sanders who started his Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise at 65.
So, if you are wondering if it's too late for you to change careers, the short answer is "Of course not." However, we do have a few tips that can make the transition much smoother for you:
Do some deep soul searching. One thing about being older is that hopefully, it also made you wiser. So, unlike the early 20-something college graduate who may end up changing jobs five times before they're 30 as they try to figure out what it is that actually makes them tick, you have lived in "the real world". Therefore, you know about the economy, the demands of balancing a home and career and also what some of your passions are. However, what you may not have made a point to do is figure out how all of that can harmonize into a new professional season for you. So, before simply applying for jobs, purchase a journal and spend a couple of months figuring out who you are at this stage, what you would like your life to look like at this time and how a different profession can manifest from those resolves.
Do your research. We've already provided some examples to solidify the fact that you really shouldn't fear that you're "too old to change". As a matter of fact, simply having the desire to do something different can provide you with about half of what you'll need to make a professional transition. But, it can never hurt to do some research into various markets to see what fields of work are not "age sensitive" (for instance, have you ever checked out the website How2Become before?) and what would be required to qualify you for a particular position. For instance, if you are 50 and you want to be a lawyer, it's not an impossible feat, but you are looking at several years of school, passing the bar and then looking for a job. That could have you closer to 60 before you could actually begin practicing. The bottom line is do not put limits on yourself, but do make sure to have practical approach to your career-seeking vision.
Make sure you have support. Once you have a clear plan on what you want to do, it's going to change your current lifestyle significantly. If you're going to go back to school, you're going to need the people living with you to be willing to pitch in to keep the house in order. If you live alone and you want to switch career paths, you will probably need to tighten your wallet a bit until your finances stabilize. In any case, a career change will be a lot easier on you if the people in your life are willing to support your decision. So, make sure to discuss it with them beforehand and be clear about what your needs are. When people care about you, they want you to be happy and so they usually will be willing to make the necessary sacrifices in order for that to happen.