Who Doesn't Need a Career Change at 40?

Lindsey Novak on

Q: I have immersed myself in a rewarding but draining career, and I am burned out now even though I'm 40. I want to change to an entirely different field or use my education and work experience to work in a different capacity with less stress. How do I orchestrate this while working? Despite the stress, I value financial security.

A: It's smart to value a job offering you financial security, but you might want to weigh that security against the amount of stress you experience from the job. Everyone experiences stress differently. If you experience stress through headaches, digestive disorders, mood swings, irritability, forgetfulness or depression, preparing for a change may be necessary now. Never let yourself reach a point where you leave the job without notice or preparation. Employees have quit for emotional reasons, but whether you're furnishing medical excuses or giving notice before taking a new job, sudden termination is likely to hurt your job opportunities in the future. You will want to be honest in your interviewing, but you also don't want to expose your weakness for working under stress.

The first step on the road to a new occupation is to prepare for a job search. Whether you conduct a full-time job search or attempt a complete career change, update your resume. It's a good habit to add your accomplishments to it every six months so you won't forget. Quantifying and qualifying each project shows the commitment you bring to a job, and yes, people forget these activities if they fail to write them down right after they occur. After the update, review your jobs and skills to determine whether you have the expertise to become an independent consultant in your field. You can form your own business when you have the advantage of knowing the field and the players in that field to contact. As a consultant, you will be in charge of the clients you accept and the procedures you create. You can cut down on your stress by abiding by your rules, taking on fewer clients and thereby working fewer hours.

You can also conduct a job search for a full-time job in the same field but aim for a company offering the benefits and security you like with a more comfortable work environment.

Your next step is to create a list of all the hobbies, interests and activities you enjoy. Don't prejudge them as you do this; this list offers important options to thoroughly review. When people are asked about turning a hobby into a business, many answer: "It won't be fun for me if it's a business." Nonsense. Why? Because that response comes from a worker's lack-of-power perspective. When turning any hobby into a business, you are in control. You control how often you work; you control how much product or service to provide; and you control how much you charge. Each field will require basic research, but don't discount the enjoyment you will feel from being the leader of your life.


Now that you have your list and your current resume, it's decision time. Review the pros and cons of all your options. A business coach may come in handy if you have trouble staying unbiased in the process. A coach has no personal agendas, as compared to friends and family, other than to help you reach your goals. If you're holding on to self-sabotaging thoughts, a coach can help you navigate through the confusion of decision-making. If one path doesn't work out as hoped, move on to the next. Life is about choices. There are no failures, only experiences and lessons.


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