How Old is Too Old To Change Careers?

The quick answer, for those that need to know now is, naturally enough, you are never too old to change careers. If I wanted to be dogmatic I’d point you to articles on the American Grandma Moses and tell you to get inspired. Maybe even ask you to Google the 99 year old lady with a brand new law degree who’s forging ahead to get her ‘Doctorate’. But I won’t.

Too many people put up with jobs they hate

How many friends and family… and work mates do we know that hate their jobs? Many will tell us, usually agonisingly so, just how much they hate their work and then admit to being in that career for years. Sometimes for decades. They tell you they are too old to change careers, and that excuse seems to satisfy them.  Yet it seems an impossibly stupid thing to do, staying in a career that does not give us the stimulation or satisfaction we crave. But so many of us do, our sanity saved only by our imagination and the daydream of being somewhere else and doing something else.

Too old to change careers

Career Reno

And what of the reasons we give for staying in a career that we don’t love? ‘I need the money’. ‘The boss can’t survive without me’. ‘I am loyal,’ ‘It’s a job and it’s close to home’. The excuses are a dime a dozen and they all sound the same. The excuses we use are usually quite interchangeable. We can apply them to our health and our relationships as well, e.g. ‘I needed her money’.

Make your own plans

I heard Nigel Marsh, author of Fat Forty and Fired, say (in a TedX event) recently that if you don’t have plans for yourself, someone else will make you part of their plan. And that’s what we do, willingly hand over our soul and trade our own daydreams for the right to help someone else buy their yacht!

The saddest part is when we have traded much of our life in the name of meaningless loyalty, we find that the loyalty is not reciprocal. The words, “I’m sorry, we are moving in a new direction and you don’t fit as part of our future,” signal there is someone out there that can help our ex boss get that yacht faster and we are gone. As each year passes, the chance of winning the ‘order of the boot’ out of the employment door rises. And then there is always the chance that we screw up and get fired!

Rather than take stock of ourselves and what we really desire, the action we’ll most likely take is to find another similar job and work to help the new boss get the harbourside mansion. Contrary to the song lyrics, history almost always repeats. The bone jarring question is, ‘Why’? Is it fear? Uncertainty? Or have we accepted that what we have always done is what we must always do? And therein lies perhaps the greatest excuse. Somewhere back in immaturity, we made a decision on what we thought we’d like to do and then invested time, money and some of our soul into making that immature decision work in with adulthood.

Too old to change careers? Or unsure what to do?

The world is full of self snared workers still willing to trade their futures for their past or because of their past. An unhappy dentist may cry, “but you don’t understand… it took me eight years of education to be a dentist. I can’t throw all that away”! The same guy owning an investment property for 8 years would sell in a New York minute if he knew the stakes were going down on property. It’s in our nature to hold on to what we have because of our past, but doesn’t it really have more to do with our future? No matter how much time we have left?

If we look to the future we have big decisions to make. And still so many of us don’t really know exactly what we’d do if we were allowed to do anything. And of course, we are allowed.

Over many years, I have submitted myself for psychometric testing for employment, allowing myself to be categorized to see if I was suitable to the needs of others. I’d be told I was a ‘high D’ in DISC and an ENTP in Myers Briggs, but I never considered what that meant for me. I’m maybe slow, but it was only a few years ago that it struck me that I could do this style of profiling on me, for me.

The downside was I got to label myself. The upside was that I was liberated, given the freedom to be me, and shown how I could play to my strengths and recognize the strengths of others, allowing them to play those to their advantage. This knowledge allowed me to change careers, aged forty nine.

Seven tips to navigating career change at any age

1. Look to the future and how you want to spend your remaining time, rather than to the past.

2. Make plans (set goals) for you before you become part of someone else’s plan.

3. Be loyal to yourself first and give your loyalty wisely to others. Loyalty is not innate nor unconditional.

4. Confirm or refine your potential through utilising the many tools available. I like the Wealth Dynamics test at a cost of around $100US. I did it and it is my favourite for now, but you choose. Google Psychometric tests or career profiles and research before you pay.

5. Find / create / join a mastermind group and surround yourself with people that have complementary skills to you. You may find that this group will help you turn what you’d do for free into something that can earn you an income.

6. When you do step up and begin to do what you love, the first thing you will notice is that some one will appear from nowhere to try and knock you down. If it’s a total stranger, you are going places.

7. It really is only about the time we have left.

Remember: You are never too old to change careers.  [Reposted March 28 2019]

Career Reno poster


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