Most of us begin our careers in our early 20s with the prospect of sticking with them for the next 40 to 50 years. However, after working in one career or field for 20 to 25 years many people desire a midlife career change. While it can be intimidating to think of embarking on something entirely new in your 40s, it does not have to be an insurmountable task. With a little planning and forethought you can experiment and find a new career every bit as fulfilling as the old one.
Plan for the Transition
Starting off in a new direction takes some planning. Often people will have mortgages and children with tuition bills to take into consideration. If you start to feel that you would like to try a midlife career change, make a goal of putting away enough money to get you through a transition year. While changing careers does not mean you will have no income coming in, it very well may decrease. Having a small nest egg set aside can ease the transition.
Even if setting aside transition funds is not feasible, you can still work towards a career change. Simply start small. If there is a specific area you are interested in, start volunteering or working on a part-time basis. For instance, if you have always been in business but are interested in exploring a teaching career, sign up to chaperon some field trips and dances or teach an after-school enrichment program.This has the added benefit of allowing you to try on the new career without fully committing to it yet.
Look for Related Fields
Another way to make the move into a new career is to look for related fields to branch out into. The possibilities are nearly endless here; just be sure that either the pace or approach is significantly different from your current position. For instance, if you have been an ER doctor for the past 20 years, you may want to stay in the health field but do something far less hectic and stress filled. Perhaps a career change to homeopathy, message therapy or a small family GP office would give you the freedom and joy of a new career without a complete change.
Go Back to School
Finally, if you just are not sure, or you want to completely change directions, go back to school. Many colleges have programs dedicated to working professionals who want to get back to educating themselves. Best of all you can pursue a new area without leaving the security of your current job.