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  • Writer's pictureBecky Davis

Career change at 40 – how, why and when!

The 40th birthday milestone seems a common time for people to consider making a career change.

I often hear it, and I wonder what it is about turning 40 that seems to give people the permission to make a change.

I do get it, I embarked on my ‘retraining’ at 39 as the big 40 was looming ever nearer. It did take me another 6 years of hard work, indecision, and struggling to know what to do for the best. I did finally figure it all out and here I am today writing this as founder and coach at Fantastic People.

It seems by the age of 40, you generally have lots of life experience, will have travelled, be settled in your own home and have friends or family close by. Most of my clients have a lovely homelife, a ‘good’ career, some have kids and most feel grateful for the life they have built. BUT they want something more and that often shows up as a career change.

When clients arrive to work with me to find a new career, we often spend time on everything other than finding a new career.

Might sound odd but it is true.

What my clients find instead is time to think and when they have time to think they start to understand that the change they want in their lives is not always a change of career but something that is sometimes much bigger but more often something much simpler.

It can be easy to dive in way too soon to the practical stuff, the stuff most of my clients already know, how to network, how to update a CV, how to apply and interview for jobs. And this is when clients get stuck and frustrated, thinking they do not know what career they want. The reality is with any change you must start with the foundations.

I always start with values which I describe as activities, behaviours, beliefs, qualities or goals that are important to you. Values help us understand why we do what we do and affect our choices and satisfaction with the outcomes of those choices. I believe the reason we start to look for a career change at 40, or just a change, is because over time our values change. It is often a good time for a refresh on everything important to us, and that is why so many people experience that stuck and frustrated feeling.

It is not about knowing what you want to do but about knowing and remembering what is important. And when you know what is important to you, then you can start to work on what you do want, and finally what changes to make.

Are you asking yourself the following questions?

  • Can you help me change my career at 40 with no degree?

  • What career change ideas have other clients had?

  • Do you have a career change quiz to help me figure this out?

  • Is there an easy way to change my career?

Maybe ask yourself these instead?

  • If no one were looking, who would you really be?

  • What are you like when you are at your best?

  • When did you last do something which scared you a bit?

  • Describe to me the bravest moment of your life?

Clients are stuck in routines that have evolved rather than thoughtfully considered and chosen, and of course, they evolve because that is what happens in life when you do not take time to stop and think.

The most important message here – make a start. I would not be where I am today if I had not made a start, and that is the most important thing you can do. Make a start.

For me, turning 40 was the start of the rest of my life, however corny or cliché that sounds. And what that meant for me was the big question of ‘can I do this job for the rest of my life and the resounding answer was no. I wanted something more worthwhile, less corporate, more freeing and purposeful, enjoyable, rewarding but most of all something where I could always be learning about something that interested me. It was only when I stopped thinking about what the right career was for me and more about who am I when I am at my best, what parts of the last 22 years did I love and enjoy and what did I want to leave behind, and what brilliant parts of me could help me to move forward. (That's me below, at my 40th birthday party)!

The most important message here – make a start. I would not be where I am today if I had not made a start, and that is the most important thing you can do. Make a start.

And if you are not sure what that start looks like book a call with me. 30 minutes, no charge, no obligation to work with me, just a lovely half hour of you making a start.


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