It’s never too late to start your career over

“I’m too old to get another job. Who would hire me?”

Oh, really? Tell that to:

  • Ronald Reagan, who transitioned from acting to politics in his 50s and became president of the United States.
  • Former farmwife Laura Ingalls Wilder, who switched gears to start writing the Little House on the Prairie series of novels at age 64.
  • Grandma Moses, who didn’t begin painting professionally until she was 76.

OK, so successful job switches can occur at any age. But how can you make it happen for yourself? Here are some guidelines for starting over with ease.

  • Know what you desire and what actions you need to take to attain your dream. Assess your skills and abilities. Make sure you have the competencies, drive and personality needed to succeed in your new career.
  • Answer key work-life balance questions regarding your new career directions. How many hours a week do I want to work? How much money do I need to earn to live comfortably? Will I be satisfied with the social status of my new company, position and title? And how complex does my new career need to be to keep me challenged? Your responses will help you decide what sacrifices you must make for a career change and if you can follow through with them.
  • Check job projections for the industry you want to pursue. If prospects are not what you envision, adjust your aspirations to what the industry anticipates. Or examine related fields of interest that offer more opportunities for you.
  • Learn more about your potential new job or industry. Build your skills and knowledge. Join professional groups to network with potential peers. Find a mentor or hire a coach who knows the industry. Work part-time at an associated job. Take classes online or after work in your field of interest. Use resources such as LinkedIn to secure referrals to industry leaders. All these efforts will provide you with insight to determine if you are correct in pursuing your interest.
  • Make a plan, and execute at least one item each day toward reaching your goal. Determine what you need to do to achieve your new career and when you can do it. It helps to accomplish these tasks while receiving a regular paycheck, so don’t suddenly resign. A gradual transition works best for the long term.

Never let ageism get you down in switching jobs. You’ve already accomplished a lot in life. Leverage that experience to your advantage for what to do and what to avoid.

The longer you wait, the higher the costs will be to recoup, the greater the challenges will be to address and the bigger your regrets will become. Sure, it’s risky, but so are most big achievements in life. So start working on making that change now!

Have you made any changes in your career when you thought it was too late? Please share your story in the comments below.

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