Want a Career Change at 40? How Career Coaching will help you take control
Are you looking for a career change at 40? You’re not alone.
Just what is it about being 40 that prompts dreams of a new career?
You’ve carved out a successful path, been promoted (more than once), you’re known in your field, have a team that admire you and you’ve achieved some real accolades…..
Something is missing. And it’s getting louder and more insistent.
So what drives a career change at 40?
It could be something about you: the things that are most important to you have shifted in priority. Perhaps you need more flexibility now, or you’re no longer prepared to tolerate how your core values clash with those of the organisation you work for. Maybe you’ve always felt that your career was…well…not quite right. Whatever it is, chances are it’s wearing you down.
It could be something about the role: when you started on this career path, you loved the face to face interaction with clients on a daily basis – but now it’s all spreadsheets and social media. Or perhaps you’ve got everything you wanted out of the work and want something fresh and exciting. Maybe the industry landscape has changed and it’s no longer what you signed up for. The work has changed.
It could be something about your situation: since having your children, you don’t want to spend a week away on a business trip and burning the midnight oil really doesn’t cut it anymore. Or perhaps you’ve grown as a person and your industry is out of whack with what you believe in. Maybe working 50-60 hour weeks was once exhilarating but you’ve lost touch with your hobbies. You want more balance.
It could also be something about being 40: sadly, you’ve been to one or two funerals this year and not just for grandparents either. Life suddenly feels shorter and you keep coming back to one question:
Is this it?
And the word you keep returning to is MEANING.
How can you be proud of what you’ve achieved in your life? How can you explain it to your children so they are proud of you? What difference are you really making? These are big questions.
But it’s a huge decision!
Yes, making a career change at 40 is certainly a big one. You’re probably locked into mortgage repayments, have expectations of family holidays, weekends away and even school fees or club memberships. These are all non-negotiable.
Or are they?
Are all of them essential to your wellbeing or perhaps the wellbeing of others who are tethered to your fortunes? Have you ever followed that thought through to its natural conclusion and worked out what might actually be possible?
What if you continue as you are and pretend everything’s OK? You’re 40, shouldn’t you be stable by now? Maybe you’ll be able to convince yourself and the dissatisfaction and soul-searching will recede. Maybe.
‘Work is called work for a reason,’ as your dad used to say.
Inside your head there’s a battle in full swing – some call it ‘cognitive dissonance’ and, according to Brené Brown, it might go something like this:
Script 1: ‘I’m falling apart and need to slow down and ask for help.’
Script 2: ‘Only flaky, unstable people fall apart and ask for help.’
Our tendency when faced with this kind of cognitive dissonance is to firstly deny it, and when that doesn’t do the trick, go shopping, reach for that after-work glass of red, ramp up your busy-ness or engage in whatever your preferred ‘numbing’ technique might be.
If you recognise this behaviour and take a closer look, you may start to realise that you owe it to yourself to at least explore alternatives.
How can you look back at your life with genuine satisfaction if you haven’t at least tried to explore more meaningful alternatives and attempted to build a new path that was more authentically you?
So, if the possibility of changing career at 40 (or later!) becomes so insistent that you’re compelled (for your own sanity) to give it some serious thought, how can you give it the very best chance of success? (You already know the answer to this one!)
If you want to make a difficult decision about legal matters, you consult a lawyer.
If you want to help your dodgy knee recover after that gym injury, you seek out a good physio.
If you want to know where to invest that inheritance, you ask a financial adviser.
In short, you seek the help of specialists. Nobody expects you to already know everything. Just like nobody expects you to be a lawyer, physio and financial advisor on top of your usual job.
If you want to understand how to make a carefully-considered career change, in a way that is most likely to have a strong chance of success, you employ a career change specialist.
Yep.The first step is really that simple. And as a result, every other step will be easier too.
There are fully-qualified and experienced career change coaches who have made this their life’s work.
They understand what’s involved in a successful career change in terms of process, mindset, the coaching relationship and accountability. They know how it works, they’ve seen it succeed, they’ve been a part of re-invigorating careers and have empowered their now-fulfilled coaching clients.
Changing your work is no longer a radical thing to do. Instead, it’s a broadening of your knowledge and skillset - no matter what your age.
But How Exactly Can a Career Coach Help?
Here are 10 reasons to hire a career coach – especially if you hate asking for help!
1. The process
A good career change coach will have a proven programme or approach and will have successfully coached clients to achieve the desired change of direction. They know the gradual and systematic process it takes to move clients from doubt and confusion to clarity and confidence in their new path.
Many people looking for a career change at 40 aren’t sure what kind of work or industry they even want to go into. A great career coach won’t just help you get to where you want to go, they’ll help you uncover what it actually is that you want to do - even if you don’t know where to begin.
2. The professional qualifications
Like any professional role, career change specialists have its own set of qualifications. These vary and include PG qualifications in Career Guidance / Career Consulting / Career Counselling / Career Advising; CIPD career development qualifications; and accredited coaching qualifications. Many people describe themselves as career coaches, but they may not have a specialist knowledge of career change, even if they have authentic coaching credentials. Having a career does not make them a career coach!
Check out what coaching qualifications a coach has and whether they have solid experience in coaching people through specific times such as going for a career change at 40.
3. Support, challenge and accountability
Your career coach will place you centre-stage, will work with you to define your vision and aspirations, and work hard to help you achieve these.
They’ll support you through the twists and turns, challenge you when it looks like you’re under-selling yourself or doubting your abilities, and hold you accountable for the work you say you’ll do.
They work on your agenda, not theirs. They’ll keep the momentum going and be there exactly when you need them.
4. Space and permission to explore
A career coach takes your dreams seriously. You have full permission to imagine a wonderful future, range into unknown territory – places you’ve never allowed yourself to believe could become reality for you.
they’ll guide you to discover the one possibility you want to work on bringing to life and help you build a bridge, face the challenges, appreciate the reasons it could succeed and tackle the barriers to success.
Dreams start to become reality and you’re not alone. Having a career coach by your side gives you the invaluable objectivity and support that will keep you focused and moving towards your goal.
5. Being seen, heard and not judged
When was the last time you spoke honestly about the future you want for yourself and others you care about?
When have you dared to explore, without fear of judgment or cynicism, what you could be capable of?
This is one of the huge benefits of investing in a career coach – you will be seen, heard and taken seriously. You will never be judged. Unlike friends and family, they will not tell you what you should do, but ask the best questions to help you find your own answers.
It’s too easy for well-meaning peers to say you’re having a midlife crisis when you float the idea of a career change at 40 or beyond. But it’s not a crisis. It’s a self-aware acknowledgement that you want more from your life and your career. When you talk to a coach, limiting beliefs go out the window (where they belong!).
6. Defence Against the Dark Arts
We all have them. Gremlins, inner critics, saboteurs. These are the voices that pipe up as soon as we tiptoe towards the edge of our comfort zone.
Their chorus is, ‘stay where you are’, ‘you’re safe here’, and their crescendo (usually in the middle of the night) is, ‘these ten catastrophes will happen as soon as you hand in your notice.’
A career coach will have strategies and tactics to counter your gremlins, to recognize them for what they are, and work to achieve your true capabilities.
7. Ingenuity and Possibility
Career coaches believe change is possible. Very often they have a successful career change under their belt themselves, have experienced how it feels and how it can succeed.
They can relate to your experience. They are realists, they are creative, resourceful, and will enable you to push against doors you always thought were locked.
They’re not cheerleaders (although they will cheer you on!), they’re the jungle explorers helping you forge a path to a better land with the tools you need to get there.
8. Clarity, Direction, Action
All of these together will bring you:
· clarity on what you are looking for and why
· specific direction of travel
· action informed by both of the above – plus momentum to keep the energy flowing
9. A CV (when you need one!)
If you work through a proven career change process, identify your target role, make connections in your chosen field and start knocking on the right doors, there will come a time when you may need to refine your CV, enhance your online presence (LinkedIn for example), develop some intelligent strategies and tactics to secure the role or the way of working you have identified as the keys to your new kingdom.
A good career coach will be able to support you with all these – but only after the WHYs are all locked in. Only then do you know WHAT you need a CV or LinkedIn profile to do for you.
10. 100% Focus
When you invest in a career coach, you buy concentration, expertise, creativity, experience and a laser focus on you and what you want to create in your life.
Do you know what that feels like? You will!
So how are you feeling about changing career at 40?
I changed direction in my 30s, 40s and 50s - each time moving into a career that challenged me and was true to my priorities, values and skills. The truth is, it’s never plain sailing. Twice I needed to re-train.
But it is, in my experience, the route to greater fulfilment, authenticity and a more substantial sense of purpose. Today, I feel I have found the work that lines up my talents, my values, my strengths and my ‘ikigai’ – my reason for being. I’m rewarded for doing the work I love and that’s exactly what I want for you.
I agree with Coldplay: ‘Nobody said it was easy’.
But, it’s undoubtedly a clearer road when you have a coach along for the support and guidance.
And the final word to Maya Angelou:
Are you ready to get serious about taking control of your life and making a career change? It might be easy to keep putting it off but if you really want meaningful change that results in happiness, success and work you love, there’s no better time than right now.
Image: Joshua Coleman (Unsplash)