How to Make a Career Change at 40

by Unre Visagie

Career Change at 40

Is career change at 40 possible?

Let master career coach, Unre Visagie, guide you through the process of getting started with a career change. If you apply these steps, you will create an effective and peaceful start to your midlife career change.

Watch the video below to get started with your career change at 40…

Career Change at 40

We are looking at the subject of career management and career change at the age of 40. I have gone through that myself and looking back at my life I would never have started all those businesses, I would have managed my career towards wealth, fun and profit, if only I knew how at the time. Let us look at typically what defines the age of 40.

If I remember all the people and myself in our companies it is an age of big responsibilities; where we are busy helping the new generation, being responsible for the current generation and its difficulties and we are helping the old generation on its way out. It is something we want to do. It is also the time I am forced to look at the rest of my life, we have found that it always happens around age 40, plus or minus a few years.

We are mid-career when we are in our forties and we have to look at what we are going to do for the rest of our working life. We are often in a trap where I have become my job title and my job title defines me. Whereas I am actually many things: I am a friend, a parent and so many other things. Work is just one of the things I do; it does not define me.

What I am, what I think, what I feel and what is within me define me and work as a small part of me. What I would’ve liked to see when I look back, I would’ve like to have seen that my work was more aligned, with nice challenges, while having fun, earning more money and building wealth. I would have liked to see that I have grown in myself, in what I do, with whom I do it, where I do it, and that I had more choices about it. Choices really are the spice of life.

Let us look at a quick process to define and start your career change at 40.

  • What I would have liked to do differently for all the people in the companies I built over the past 30 years.
  • What have I done in coaching since then have been very successful.
  • Typically, the people that follow this process grow their salaries by 20 or 30% over 18 months.
  • They look at work differently, they approach challenges differently and always respond in any situation to grow their options and increase their choices.

You always have a very big in internal “store” consisting of:

  • Your natural talents,
  • Your work and personal skills
  • Your work and personal relationships

You have built this big store using external resources and internalized it over time. To increase our the process all we have to do is identify what we enjoy doing, what the current situation is, what we feel and what we perceive. We can turn those into prepared action with the aim to engage, it only takes a little bit of effort. We talk to friends, do a bit of research, think about it a bit and then talk to people around us, remembering it is all externally available. All you have to do is get it and make it internal. The actual process consists of:

  1. Identify
  2. Prepare research
  3. Engage, communicate with the world

Where I personally coach people through the Career Maker process, I regularly work with people who never realized that they had choices. I recently had somebody who has so many choices and never realized that he had all these choices. All the choices threatened him, because he saw them as difficult choices to make. When we turned it around and aligned the choices with what he wanted, the choices quickly reduced to two or three. These we investigated and he engaged. He is on his way to double his salary from $150 000 per year to probably $300 000 per year by just looking at things differently, he went external to trusted advisors, and he internalized the advice they gave him. He is now comfortable that the road forward is clear, he knows what to do next.

Outcomes of the Career Maker process

The outcome is that you are organized, you take action and you ensure your growth. Everybody loves a man with a plan. Everybody loves a man who is positive, clear, committed, who finds joy and things to do and contributes. For whom there is always a solution, but at the same time, he clearly knows what work to say no to.

Change is so fast today that you may have to choose again in five years. When you have applied this process a few times, change becomes a simple and fun matter. If you look at your career, the company you choose, the industry you choose, yes you can choose them all, that is for sure. It is just a process of identify, prepare and engage. Go external, bring it internal, and at 40 you typically have most, if not all, of these skills and access to these resources.

The Career Maker Process in Short

When considering a career change at 40, you do not want to jump ship. You want to progressively change ships. Most people at 40 have big responsibilities. You need to view your career change as a process, rather than a moment’s choice.

You will use your current work base to gently shift careers. You do more and more of the work you want to do, and less of the work you do not like doing. I found in my coaching that many people can make small changes in their current careers which leads to them becoming very happy right where they are! They never had to change careers, just recognize the opportunities they already had in their current jobs differently.

If it turns out that someone really must make a career change at 40, they have no obvious opportunities in their current jobs, I coach them to use their current job platform and reach out to external sources of knowledge and opportunity. They do this while they stay at their current job and steadily build connections to the right people and places.

In both cases we need to align the work you want do with the job you want to do in the company you do it, even if you remain with your current company. There are some very simple, easy processes to delegate what you do not like. Well-executed delegation frees your time so that you can focus on the work you want to do. View delegation from the perspective of “Others must grow, do not steal other people’s work”. While you delegate the work you do not want to do, volunteer for the work you want to do. Also, get further expertise outside of the company, in specific places, investing in yourself, or just participating for the benefit of those you want to learn from; grow the skills that let you move the job progressively to what you really want and what aligns with you.

When you are clear on your career, company, industry, work and job in the company, you are on your way to building a long-term career, remembering a job is just something you do on your career road. If you look at a career aim once you are clear about industry, company and yourself, it is so simple to make your career aim visible. Use online tools like LinkedIn to make your career aims visible. You will find that jobs come to you to fit your career aim. The real change happens when in a few months you announce your career aim, your support structure: your family and friends are with you and you are prepared for a career change.  You have done your thing, you have engaged, and you are ready with the resources, to move in the direction of your career aim.

Remember that career aim is something that keeps on moving, because our environment keeps on changing. However, at any one time, you must have a clear career aim. You are going to adapt it to embrace change, love change; change is so exciting for the prepared. Change is so threatening to people who are not prepared, remember that fear of change at 40 is simply facts that present themselves as if they are real and they are actually perceptions. Therefore, if you overcome fear, that nasty four-letter word, you overcome the risk you perceive and the risks are never real.

If you move progressively, you identify, prepare, and engage, you never take a big risk. It is an incremental process, you move towards your career aim. You should probably aim to align your career every two to three years; that is about the change cycle now. New opportunities arrive as the industries move, some disappear and some industries arrive. Humans always need a challenge, a change, remembering that change is as good as a holiday. I hope we have shown you that at 40 there are typically these things happening in peoples’ minds. They can align with what, who, where. They can do a quick start, moving from their basal store, they can organize, take action and grow, and they can align perfectly towards a long-term career aim.

More career change at 40 resources:

Delegation resources:

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

About Unre Visagie
I am a master coach with 30 years of career and business coaching experience. I have built and sold many of my own multi-million dollar companies. I have always built my companies based on the principle of successful people make a successful company. I invest in people. As your coach you get 30 years of experience to help you do the work you love and earn the salary you want.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ann Marie March 2, 2012 at 4:20 am

Hello Unre, Your page about career change at 40 is very helpful. Thank you. I am in the process of writing my career change cover letter and found your page to be very helpful. I am looking to change careers from accounting to human services, specifically working in the mental health field with children. I have had this interest for a few years now but have not been able to overcome the fear of change until now. I’m glad I bumped into your page. Also, wanted to let you know that you have a typo in the “about Unre” section. The word caree needs an r at the end. Thank you for any other words of advice if you could regarding transferable skills to note on my career change cover letter.
Sincerely,
Ann Marie

Unre Visagie March 20, 2012 at 10:32 am

Hi Ann Marie

Thanks for the correction note. We are working on a new cover letter process. Will be in touch when it is finished and get it to you.

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