So you want to quit your job? Are you sick of clock watching, the grinding monotony of repetitive, unfulfilling work? Perhaps you want to escape a toxic work environment or you want more career autonomy.

You’re not alone.

A recent survey of UK workers found only 35% of full time would say they are ‘very happy ‘ in the job.*

Post covid, many of us are evaluating our career priorities. Whether it’s the better work-life balance that hybrid working brings, a role with increased employee benefits, or a complete career pivot.

Our 40s can be seen as a turning point career-wise. Most of us will have been working half our lives, gone through various roles and we may feel like we’ve reached a career dead end. Women who have taken time away from work to raise a family may find the job they return to changed or no longer fits around family life.

But with decades of experience under our belts, we may now feel confident to seek out new challenges.

The Average UK worker will have gone through 12 career changes in their lifetime, according to Zippa Career Expert . With social media and job sites like Linked In and Indeed offering up thousands of new job vacancies each day to unsatisfied workers, the temptation to move -on can be hard to resist.

But before you start drafting out your two weeks’ notice, let’s explore the pros and cons of changing job roles in your 40s, 50s, and beyond.


Stop and reflect: The case for/ and against quitting your job

The case against:

In Western culture we tend to define ourselves by what we do, and the message from social sites like Linkedin is that it’s not just enough to be successful at work. Girl bosh hashtags and hussle culture perpetuate the idea we’re expected to feel passionate and fulfilled by our work. 

But there is another school of thought. Quiet quitting, or soft quitting. which isn’t actually quitting at all. It’s simply turning up for work and doing what’s expected of you. no more (and no less) The bills get paid, and then you clock off at five and do the stuff that actually brings you joy. (It could be argued this was just a normal way of viewing work until the advent of hussle culture.) Your career was a means to an end — not the end in itself.

Ask yourself, are you just having an off day, an off week? If your work normally makes you happy, pays the bills and you feel satisfied in other aspects of your life. Think very carefully if now is the right time or if it’s a bit of a case of ‘grass is always greener’ syndrome.

The case for quitting.

Our 40s is a period in our lives when the demands of childcare are starting to lessen. And our financial situation may be more settled than it was in our 20s. This can present an opportunity for change.

so what’s holding you back?

The fear that maybe you’re too old? That’s understandable. But… if you’re in your early 40s, you may still have 30-plus years left before retirement.-ample time to learn a new skill or change careers. If you are genuinely unhappy in your current role, it is better to make the leap sooner rather than later

What do you want to be when you grow up?

So you’ve weighed up the pros and cons, and you’ve decided to do it . Go you! So the big question is…

“what do you want to be when you grow up?”

If you’re reading this article you may already have a role in mind, but maybe not. Maybe you just know that where you are now isn’t working for you.

That’s okay. Many people in their 40’s, 50’s, and even 60’s still don’t know what they want to do. Think about your hobbies, What aspect of your current career do you enjoy? There is a saying, “Do what you love and the money will follow. Do your research. A job may sound perfect in the job spec/ insta posts. But every job has its downsides. Changing careers is a massive decision so be sure that it’s really what you want to do before you commit too much time and energy.

where do I start? How landing your dream job may be easier than you think

So now you have some idea about what your dream career looks like. how do you turn that dream into a reality? make a path from where you are now to your destination. You’ve probably already looked at Job posts while thinking about your dream career. And it can seem disheartening when the advert may have a long list of requirements/ qualifications that you don’t have. Don’t panic.

Job adverts are simply an employer’s ‘Wish List’ . The qualities that they would love an ideal candidate to have. let me pose a radical idea.

You can apply for a job, even if you don’t meet the entry requirements. There is no law against it, nothing bad will happen, in fact, something good just might...

Look a a sample of advertised jobs in the role you’re interested in and you’ll start to get an idea of the key skills and qualifications you need. Hopefully, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that you already possess the soft skills that most employers want; Customer service, teamwork, and working to deadlines. Regardless of the industry, showing a future employee you have these skills will get you over halfway to the finish line. why? because no course teaches them, they come from life experiences, and that’s something you have in spades!

Three ways to change career; which is right for you?

So now you have some idea about what you’re dream career looks like, how do you turn that dream into a reality. There are three routes you can take to leave your current career . From lowest to most risky.

  1. The side hustle. This is the lowest risk, but slowest way to perform a career 160, wherein you study, and gain qualifications for the job you want in your spare time. while continuing in your 9-5. This may seem like the easy option but I’d argue it takes the most effort. If already have a job, and maybe a family, realistically you’ve already done two full-time jobs a day before you even sit down to train for your dream role. That takes serious energy and dedication. Pros- low risk. income security. cons. requires dedication and patience
  • 2 The half and half. This route requires some serious commitment and another source of income. Ideally suited if you have a bit of money set aside. As it says, This path involves dedicating a serious amount of your time to training/studying in your new field, but still keeping a financial safety net. An example would be to drop to part-time in your main job. Or start working in your desired role in an entry position. Pros you’ll gain experience quickly. cons you’ll probably be looking at a drop in wages for a little while.

  • 3 The dive in. This is the riskiest, and only advisable if you have a financial cushion, we’re talking savings to cover you for a year, while you give it your all. Write your CV and cover letter tonight, and tomorrow send 20 plus speculative emails, apply for ten roles, don’t stop until you yet a yes. It definitely needs discussion with family. you may also want to give yourself a time frame- i.e. promise yourself to give it a year and if nothing has happened i’ll rethink. Pros- you’ll hopefully be super motivated, and see fast results. Cons; very risky. no safety net. you’ll need to have a backup plan and enough money to cover you while you’re job hunting.

Staying motivated-feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

By now, you will have amassed a ton of knowledge about your ideal job role and……… gain a qualification- build a portfolio- sending those speculative emails. This is where the real hard work begins. it can be tempting to go hell for leather when you’re super excited, but going too hard and too fast might lead to disappointment, you don’t want your current career to suffer.

Never, ever, ever leave a job on bad terms.

Even if your future role is totally removed from what you’re doing now- future employers will still want references.

Now think about the steps you will need to take to reach your career goal. Be realistic about how much spare time you have available. Half an hour a day, every day- will eventually pay off, the key thing is to stay consistent.

At the very least challenge yourself to do one thing, every day, to process your future career. It could be as simple as ordering an online course prospectus or updating your CV. The aim should be to go to bed feeling you’re just that little bit closer to your dream job.

Built your support network network. make sure your family is on board. Explain things might be a bit different for a while but this is important to you and it would be helpful if they could pitch in around the house where they can.

seek online communities to build you up and bounce ideas off. Finding your time will be immensely helpful in keeping you motivated, you’ll find inspiring stories from people of all ages who started again in midlife and even later. it’s also a great way to start making connections in your chosen field.

In conclusion. there is still time to change careers if you’re 40s, or 50s or 60s. It takes commitment and effort, but imagine getting paid to do what you love for a living. It will undoubtedly be worth it.

Inspired to start your next career move? Read this next:

Build the career you want –these 12 books will show you how

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