Are you considering a new career?
If you are, I bet you feel like you’re on a teeter totter wedged between the safety net of your current job and a world of uncertainties with a new career path.
Many would choose to comfortably ignore the desire for something new and choose familiarity, but then there is always that little voice.
That voice that makes you wonder.
What if I try something new and it opens up doors I didn’t know existed?
Your mind races with possibilities and then just as suddenly, that door slams shut.
“There’s no way I can start a new career in my 30s.“
I’m here to tell you that it is absolutely possible to start a new career at 30 (and beyond)! I’m also here to tell you that you are not alone.
According to a 2021 survey from GoodHire, 46% of individuals 25-40 planned to change careers within the next year.
This guide will encourage you to ask the right questions and support you with some tips along the way.
Table of Contents
What do you value most in your current career?
When going through a career change, it’s important to focus on what the career is doing for you, as opposed to what you are doing for the career.
Is it a passion?
Is it a paycheck?
Is it the work environment you want?
Is it a learning experience?
Is it part time or full time?
Typically, people focus only what they are doing for their career.
“I’m climbing that ladder.”
“I’m putting in the extra hours.”
“My boss is happy with my work.”
Throughout different phases of life, career values change. Reflecting on your current career values will help to ensure you are making an informed decision.
When I embarked upon my first career, I was very driven simply & intrinsically by my goals at work.
Then I had three children, not all at once, but my priorities slowly started to change.
Until one day, it clicked. Work had a different role in my life than it did 10 years ago.
What role does work have in your life currently? Has it changed?
The more honest you are about your current work needs, the easier it will be to determine if a change is necessary.
Write down all the possible advantages to changing careers. Consider everything. For example: your mental health, your commute, your passions and interests, your family needs and your financial needs.
This list should outweigh the next…
What would you give up by changing careers?
With any change there are bound to be some negatives. Don’t sugar coat it.
Can you come to terms with the things you’d leave behind?
Sit down and talk through how a change like this would impact the other areas of your life. How would this impact a spouse’s life, your children’s lives?
You may have less time to spend with your family if you are busy learning a new skill set.
You may also benefit from cutting back on some expenses if your new position comes with a pay-cut (or if you’re starting with an easy transition job).
When I changed careers, there were some passion components I knew I would miss. This motivated me to find opportunities in my next career that would inspire a similar form of creativity.
- Write down the drawbacks.
- For each drawback, write down at least one suggestion that would make this sacrifice less of a burden.
- Focus on solutions.
How do you handle change?
If someone says, “Things will be changing around here.” What is your gut reaction?
Do you go into full panic mode at a mere mention of something changing?
Do you look forward to a new opportunity when change is presented?
If solely talking about a change in careers is causing more mental stress than you can handle, be sure to consider if this is worth it.
According to Mark Murphy from Forbes, when people are presented with a change they use their past experiences and their personality to determine if change is viewed in a positive light or a negative one.
If you look forward to change and can see the positives, take heart – you are among the minority.
If change does cause anxiety, be prepared to answer what specifically triggers this response.
- Identify how you feel about change.
- Identify triggers (if any) that cause stress.
- Review some strategies from ADAA (Anxiety & Depression Association of America) for combating any anxiety-producing triggers.
- Establish strategies that are beneficial and implement them when things feel as though they are piling up.
- Practice saying, reading & writing positive affirmations for your career change.
Are you prepared to start at the beginning again?
If you are a seasoned professional in your current career, making the shift to beginner may be challenging.
At this point, many 30-somethings have built a lengthy resume of experiences and may be approaching the height of their careers.
Don’t let this deter you from your goals. Everyone has their own personal and professional challenges.
If you compare yourself to others, you may feel “behind” quite often. Instead, celebrate every small accomplishment in this new direction.
Starting over is tough, but it gives you a new perspective many lack.
Imagine 5 years from now. You could be 5 years into your new career (perhaps a fully remote job), grateful that you took that leap when you did.
Or you could be 5 years further in your current career, wondering what could have been if you had tried something different.
Keep a journal of all the new skills you are learning from changing careers.
How would changing careers impact your finances?
Finances in your 30’s. If this isn’t the elephant-sized factor, I don’t know what is? What a stress-invoking topic.
For most, this is the single biggest deciding factor between starting something new or maintaining the status quo. As best you can, try to stick to the facts, and keep emotions out of financial conversations.
Be sure you are aware how much money is necessary for your monthly bills. Also, keep in mind that sometimes starting a new career means attending school (or an accelerated program).
Are you financially prepared to change careers?
1. Develop a spreadsheet to visualize what your current income is allocated towards.
2. Brainstorm some cost-cutting ideas.
3. Consider additional ways to make money, like a side hustle.
Where do you see yourself down the road?
As best you can, determine some goals for 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years down the road.
Thinking that far ahead was difficult for me. I wanted to leave some areas open-ended in hopes to see where my new career takes me.
However, having goals is important to maintain some form of accountability. And to help you figure out what you really want to do with your new career.
Do you see yourself retiring in the next 20-30 years with the new career? It may seem like a stretch, but retirement is not that far away.
According to CNBC, financial experts recommend that people save at least $2 million for retirement. Of course, this is dependent on your lifestyle, and the lifestyle you hope for retirement.
1. Write down where you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, and what year you plan to retire.
2. Make a vision board with goals written down.
3. Adjust your action steps and goals accordingly.
How will you handle questions from your friends & family?
This may not be high on your list of concerns, but this is a topic to consider – especially if you know your family will hound you with questions.
Do yourself a favor and think through items they may bring up.
Stick with the career values you developed from the earlier tips. Don’t forget to include any solutions from the second question.
My parents asked many questions. They were relieved to hear that I had a plan for each of their questions.
Ironically, the volume of questions coming from your own mind is far greater than any questions a family member could ever ask.
If this career change is really where you see yourself going, consider having a mental speech (or talking points) prepared & ready to go. Believe in yourself, and know deep in your gut why you’re making this big change.
1. Develop a factual set of talking points to share with family members, and with yourself, when doubt pops up.
2. Revise and add to the speech with each new phase of your journey.