By the time you’re in your 40s or 50s, it can feel like the time for shifting careers is behind you. However, many of us have decades of work life left, and there’s no sense spending those years at a job that you don’t enjoy. Maybe your goals and dreams have changed, it’s okay to change your path to accommodate that.
We caught up with 5 women who shifted careers in mid-life, to talk about why they did it and what advice they have to share.
‘Don’t Let Other’s Fears Become Your Own.’
After worked for decades as a business strategist, Beth Zimmerman launched a nonprofit, Pets for Patriots, when she was 47. When she had an idea for pairing shelter pets with veterans, she knew she had to go all in. She found that per previous work experience helped her in her new career of nonprofit management.
Zimmerman learned how to briefly explain her career change confidently, highlighting how her previous experience benefits her in her new role. Most importantly, she learned not to let other people’s opinions stress her out.
“Don’t let the fears of other people become your own,” she said. “Most people don’t switch careers voluntarily and are afraid of change.”
‘Have a Plan.’
Sandra Moreno was 43 when she went from working in financial consulting to being an interior designer. The new career gave her more control over her time (important as a single mom), but also meant a less predictable income.
Believing in herself was key, Moreno said, but so was planning ahead.
“Research your new career path, talk to people in the industry about the highs and lows to get some insider perspective, and if relevant, educate yourself,” she said.
‘See a Chance To Grow.’
Dr. Carla Marie Manley was in her mid-40s when she decided to ditch her career as an investment manager to become a psychologist. Although it wasn’t easy, making a dramatic career change at middle age enriched her life in other ways, she said.
“It’s never to late to follow your dreams,” she said. “Listen to your inner voice. When you do, doors and windows will open for you. It’s won’t always be easy, but perseverance and faith do pay off in the end!”
‘Embrace Your Fear.’
When Camille Finan shut down her cabinet-making business at age 50 to pursue podcasting, she was terrified of the risk. Although she did due diligence before jumping in, she was unsure of what a drastic career shift would mean for her. Now, two years later, she is glad she didn’t let worries hold her back.
“Embrace the fear,” she said. “It will feel scary as you learn a new skill or job, but only for a while. It may take months or a year or so, but eventually you grow into your new space and start to thrive.”
‘Treat Yourself Like A Friend.’
Leslie Shull has changed careers many times, most recently a middle-age shift from real estate lending to teaching at community college. She says women should speak to themselves with the same love and kindness that they would give to their friends.
“Listen to the advice you give or would give to other people,” she said. “Would you tell your best friend to stay put or to make the change? If what you are doing is draining you every day, it’s not worth it.”