The Pros and Cons of Starting a New Career at 40
Published November 9, 2020
They say that life begins at 40. For people currently on the throughs of a mid-life crisis, this couldn’t be more true. Forty is that age where you’re still decades away from retirement but not that young to waste years doing something you don’t want to. As such, it’s perfectly understandable why upon turning 40, many people want to make drastic life changes like pursuing a new career.
There are varied reasons why people want to start fresh at 40. Some want to finally pursue their true passion. While others feel like they’re stuck in a dead-end job and the only way out is to get a new one.
Though there are advantages to starting a new career at 40, it’s not exactly a walk in the park. Especially if you still have children living with you. Or you’ve been out of the job market for far too long.
So if you’re thinking of trekking a new path at this age, it’s important to know what you’ll be facing. Here are the pros and cons of starting a new career at 40:
You Get to Go Out of Your Comfort Zone
If you’ve started your current career in your early 20’s then you’ve been doing it for almost two decades. It may have been challenging 10 or 15 years ago but now it’s nothing more than routine. You’ve grown so comfortable doing it that it doesn’t excite you anymore. In short, it has become your comfort zone.
This is why starting a new job at 40 is also getting out of your comfort zone. Traveling through this unfamiliar path can bring new challenges. But it can also help you grow. You’ll meet new people, gain new experiences, and discover things about yourself you’ve never known before.
The Uncertainty Adds a Spice to an Otherwise Boring Existence
Yes, switching careers at this age can bring a lot of uncertainties. But that uncertainty can also add spice to an otherwise boring routine. It can make you feel alive again. You’ll finally have something to look forward to other than paydays and holidays. It gives you a new goal, something to work hard for other than bills and mortgages.
You’ll Learn Something New
If you’re someone who always welcomes new knowledge, then you’ll most likely be successful in anything you do. That includes switching to a new career at your age.
Even if you don’t go to school again, looking for a new job is a learning experience in and of itself. Plus the skills you can learn at your new job will stay with you no matter what path you decided to pursue later on.
You Still Have More Than Two Decades Before Retirement
Maybe you’re having second thoughts about pursuing a new career because you think you’re too old for it. But if you really think about it, the retirement age is 65. Therefore, you still have about 25 years to work on the new career path you’ve chosen. So, you see? It’s not too late. Others may have had several years of headstart but you still have a big chance of climbing up the ladder than if you are to change careers say in your 50’s.
Time and Experience Has Honed You
One of the advantages of switching to a new career path in your 40s is now, you have more wisdom. Time and experience have honed you. You’re not anymore the starry-eyed 20 something who doesn’t quite know what they want in life. Now, you are more mature and know what exactly you want to do. You now know better than to care about other people’s opinions.
You’re Starting From Scratch – Again
One of the more obvious disadvantages of starting a new career at 40 is that you may have to start from scratch. Especially if you’re planning a radical career shift to a field that’s completely different from your current job.
You won’t be able to use your connections. If you’ve built a reputation in your current field, you can forget about it too. And if you’re eyeing an employment position rather than starting your own business, you may have to start at the bottom of the ladder.
You May Not Be Able to Use Your Skillset
If your new career path has nothing to do with your previous job, the skillsets you’ve cultivated for years will go down the drain. You won’t be able to use it. Plus, you will have to spend years – again – to learn a new skillset.
You Might Have a Hard Time Maintaining Your Current Lifestyle
If you’re still paying mortgage along with a bunch of other loans and bills, you will need to take that into consideration before starting a new career.
As mentioned, there’s a big chance you’ll be starting at the bottom of the ladder again. So your income will, most likely, also be lesser. Maintaining your current lifestyle with a much lesser income can be hard.
Besides, if you’ll have to undergo training or get another degree, you may need to go unemployed for a few months to years. But if you’re really decided on doing this, just make sure you have enough savings to get you through the transition stage.
How to Prepare For a Smooth Transition
As mentioned, switching careers at this age isn’t exactly a walk in the park. To ensure a smooth transition, here are some things to keep in mind:
Choose a New Career Carefully
Following your passion after almost two decades of slaving away in a job you don’t really care for might sound great. But if you have responsibilities other than to yourself, you should think about it more carefully. Changing careers entails sacrifices. If you think the pros weigh the cons, then go ahead live your dream life. Otherwise, you should review your options more carefully.
Make Use of Your Transferable Skills
Transferable skills refer to any set of skills that are useful to any employers across different jobs and various industries. These include skills like teamwork, adaptability, and strong organization and communication skills.
If you have any of the above skills, you can put it in your resume when applying for a new job. You can also add in other skills that might not be that useful in your previous job but you think will be in your new one.
Research the Job Market
You probably already have a career in mind. But it’s still worth researching the job market. Especially if you’ve been out of the market for years. You will find that the job market has changed drastically over the years and getting a new job might not be as easy as before. So it’s worth taking a look to gauge how you’ll fare before quitting your current job.