Is a Career Change in Your 30s or 40s a Good Idea?

If you’re like a lot of people, you were raised with the idea that you’d learn a skill, get a job and keep it until you retired. The past few decades have turned that belief on its head. The concept that you’ll get a job when you graduate from school and stick with the company for the next 40 years is extremely outdated. While some people still do this, changing jobs and even careers mid-life is completely normal. Here’s how to determine if it’s the right decision for you.

Job Satisfaction
It’s true that most people don’t look for work because they love doing it more than anything else. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that job satisfaction is an important factor in your ability to keep working within a particular field for years. People who hate what they do or who have grown tired of it often realize that it spreads into the rest of their lives. When you spend a third of your time doing something that doesn’t make you happy, it’s going to be harder to enjoy yourself in your off-time. The trick is to determine whether or not it is your particular job or your career in general that’s causing the issue. If it’s the latter, you’re probably better off making an adjustment sooner rather than later.

Upward Mobility
Upward mobility might feel like an obsolete term from a completely different world, but it still plays a role in your future prospects. The ability to continue to grow in your career depends on the job and where you’re at right now. If you’re in your 30s and realizing that you’ve almost hit the max on where you could go, you have to decide if you’re OK staying where you’re at. Some people find a great deal of satisfaction in a job where they aren’t constantly having to break the mold. But if you’re looking for something with more variety, or you’re starting to feel like you’ll be doing this job forever, it might be time for a change.

Future Plans
Of course, the timing of a possible career change depends heavily on what you’re planning to do with the rest of your life. Someone who is planning to do something big like start a family or relocate may not have as many options to re-define themselves as someone who has comparatively few new things on the horizon. While many people decide to jump into a new career with both feet, it’s worth evaluating when is the best time for you to do this. Sometimes, waiting even six months or a year so you can prepare makes a successful transition much more likely.

Financial Responsibilities
For most people, the older you get, the harder it is to abruptly shift from one financial situation to another. If you have a house with a mortgage, and a family with lots of expenses every month, you’ve got fewer options than someone who is single and able to move almost anywhere. But it’s worth keeping in mind that a job transition doesn’t have to be a complete pivot from an established, comfortable situation into chaos. If you outline your liabilities, you’ll know what standards you need to be able to hit with a new career.

Transferable Skills
If you expected that the only way to change careers is effectively to start over, you might be pleasantly surprised. When you start in a new field in your 30s and 40s, people evaluating the skills you bring to the table aren’t going to look at you as if you just turned 18. This means that you may have a variety of talents or develop skills that would benefit you in your new career. Take some time to think about the soft skills you’ve picked up so far, such as:

  • Professional communication
  • Computer proficiency
  • Networking
  • Personal finance management

You might not be looking for a new job in any of these fields, but most jobs require at least a little of these.

Changing your career is never an easy decision, but it might be the best one you ever made. To start on the path to your own contracting business, visit CSLS today!

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