That did hit a nerve, right?
The harsh reality here is that the moment someone decides to transition their identity and take up a different role in their personal or professional life, the entire world starts to pity them. And we get to hear the words, “Oh, they are going through a midlife crisis”. While Elliot Jaques coined the term “midlife crisis” in the year 1965 to explain the natural phenomenon of adults turning into older people and the kind of emotions they experience along the way, we over the years have redefined it multiple times based on various archaic stereotypes.
It has been rightly said that “where there is a rotten root, there will always be a rotten fruit”. And that’s exactly the case here. The traditional notion of “crisis” is completely rotten and can no longer bear fruitful results if we continue to associate it with our beautiful midlife phase. It’s high time we viewed midlife as a time of growth and not a crisis.
A career change at any age can be frightening, and there is nothing wrong with experiencing a certain amount of fear. It only signifies that you do consider it a life-altering decision and are carefully measuring all the pros and cons related to it. So, don’t let your inhibitions prevent you from successfully pivoting your career.
If you are feeling stuck, then you need to look out for these 4 midlife career change myths and unlearn them immediately.
1. Career change is for the young
The most used saying “Age is just a number” fits here perfectly. We often divide our desires, wants, and ambitions into different age brackets. Since our teen days, we are taught to assign an age bracket to every phase of our life – finish higher studies by 22, get a reputed job by 25, get married by 28, have children by 30, build your own house by 40, and seek retirement by 60. But, why? Who says you can’t leave your job and start your own venture at 45?
Falguni Nayar, founder of India’s leading cosmetics and personal care brand Nykaa, left her role as a managing director and became an entrepreneur at the age of 49. Similarly, Arianna Huffington found the widely popular news website The Huffington Post at 55. And let’s not forget about our absolute favorite Stan Lee who created his first comic “The Fantastic Four” at the age of 39, and crafted the legendary Marvel Universe in his 40s. So, what’s stopping you?
2. Changing careers = Starting from Scratch
When people imagine changing careers, what really frightens them is the idea of starting from scratch. But guess what, that’s not always true. A sigh of relief, right? Switching careers at 40 implies that you already have an enormous amount of transferable skills that you can tweak a little to fit your resume. You don’t actually have to go back to school. All you have to do is identify these skills and assess how you can align them well with the job role/field you wish to enter.
In addition, you have two options here – (a) you can pick the same role in a different field, or (b) you can select a different role or responsibility in the same field. Just remember, your years of experience will always be valued by your next employer, regardless of the area you dive in. Furthermore, it’s not difficult to upskill yourself these days as long as you have the willingness and passion to reinvent yourself.
3. Financial instability will shatter your dreams
One of the major reasons why people restrain from a midlife career change is because they dread income instability or a significant decrease in their income. But your hefty paycheck is of no use if you don’t feel content with where you are in your life. Or, if you are spending all your work hours thinking about the kind of person you could have been had you taken the risk to change your career. Also, not every profession results in a lower income. Who knows you might land a higher salary package. Anyway, with proper financial planning, you don’t have to suffer from any financial stress at all. So, first research about the standard income you can expect from the field/role you intend to take on.
Once you have the clarity, then experts suggest that you try to live on that income for at least three to four months. By doing so, you can learn to eliminate those expenses that are not necessary and prepare yourself better for the uncertainties. Just make sure that you have sufficient income to support unavoidable monthly expenses such as children’s education, health insurance, electricity bills, and house rent. You can always cut down on groceries, weekly outings, and leisure trips for a few months to smoothly transition through a professional pivot.
4. Every step must be planned
Emily Dickinson rightly said, “one step at a time is all it takes to get you there”. You don’t have to plan every single step of your career change journey to make that first move. It is only natural to evolve, switch interests, and map out a plethora of ways to reach your ultimate goal. In addition, if plan A doesn’t work for you, invent another plan to survive the odds. To begin with, break your main goal into small steps. With the completion of each tiny step, you will undoubtedly experience a sense of satisfaction that will keep you going.
Still not sure? Just ask yourself, have you become the doctor, engineer, or lawyer your parents wanted you to be when you were 18? For those who did, congratulations! But if you didn’t, then it is quite evident that you cannot have your entire life figured out in advance. All you can do is make the effort to move in the direction of that goal. And if you are reading this article and trying to debunk the career change myths with us, the chances are that the engineer you became at the age of 25 is now looking to switch careers at the age of 40. So, what happened to that concrete planning?
The way forward
Contemplating a career change at any age can be demanding and tough, but not impossible. You must first find out why you want to make a career change, which field you wish to switch to, whether you have to acquire new skills, and how you can manage your finances during its execution. Additionally, while a bit of self-assessment can be truly helpful, you also have the option to seek professional career guidance. Nowadays, you have several certified career experts who can constantly motivate you, hold you accountable for your actions, and most importantly, map the entire career path for you.
So, now that you have debunked these dangerous myths about a midlife career change, it’s time to religiously pursue your dreams.
Remember – Listen to what others have to say about your career path, but only do what you feel is right for you.