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  • Writer's pictureRenata Bernarde

It’s Never Too Late

Episode 246 - The Guide to Changing Careers in Your 40s and Beyond

As life expectancy increases and people stay healthier longer, the concept of a single, lifelong career is becoming outdated. More professionals are embracing the idea of changing careers later in life, seeking fulfillment and new challenges as they age. This trend is not just a fleeting notion but a significant shift in how we approach our professional lives. According to the American Institute for Economic Research, there are between one and two million older career changers each year, showing that this phenomenon is more common than ever (Psychology Today).

Why Career Changes Later in Life Are Becoming More Common

Several factors contribute to the rising trend of career changes among older professionals. Increased life expectancy means that many people have the opportunity to work well into their later years. Additionally, economic changes and technological advancements often require professionals to adapt and learn new skills, making career shifts more feasible and sometimes necessary.

Recent studies indicate that career changers over 40 are often more successful and report higher levels of happiness and job satisfaction compared to their younger counterparts (Psychology Today) (Careershifters). This is partly because they bring a wealth of experience and a clear understanding of what they want from their careers.

Tammy's Journey: A Case Study

Tammy Fitzgerald's story, as discussed in The Job Hunting Podcast, episode 246, is a prime example of a successful later-life career change. After decades in successfully advancing in her career to senior leadership roles, she experienced significant burnout and felt unfulfilled. This dissatisfaction, coupled with a long-standing desire to pursue law, motivated her to stop working and return to school at 49.

  • Recognizing Burnout: Tammy realized that her exhaustion was a signal for change. Burnout is a common issue among professionals in high-stress roles, and recognizing it can be the first step towards a more fulfilling career.

  • Planning Meticulously: Tammy's transition required careful planning. She evaluated her financial situation and leveraged support from her family to ensure she could focus on her studies without the immediate pressure of earning an income. This planning was crucial for her successful transition.

  • Seeking Support: Family support played a critical role in Tammy's journey. Her husband and children provided the emotional and practical assistance she needed to balance her academic and personal responsibilities. A strong support system can make a significant difference when making a major career change.

  • Embracing Lifelong Learning: Returning to school later in life was challenging for Tammy, but she embraced it with determination. Moving from a position of mastery to being a student again required humility and a willingness to learn. Lifelong learning is essential for anyone considering a career change, as it opens up new opportunities and keeps the mind active and engaged.

  • Following Passion: Tammy's passion for justice and advocacy was a driving force behind her decision to study law. Aligning her career with her values and interests provided her with a renewed sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Advice for Those Considering a Career Change

Tammy's journey offers valuable insights and practical advice for anyone contemplating a career change later in life. Here is how you can use Tammy's framework to enable your career change:

  • Recognize and Address Burnout: Don't ignore the signs of burnout. It could be an indication that it's time for a change.

  • Plan Carefully: Assess your financial situation, family responsibilities, and career goals. Create a detailed plan to manage your transition smoothly.

  • Seek Support: Build a strong support network of family, friends, and mentors who can provide guidance and encouragement.

  • Embrace Learning: Be open to learning new skills and gaining new knowledge. Lifelong learning is crucial for staying relevant and engaged.

  • Follow Your Passion: Align your career with your interests and values. Doing work that you are passionate about can lead to greater job satisfaction and personal fulfillment.

Next Steps

Changing careers later in life is not only possible but increasingly common. With careful planning, support, and a willingness to embrace new challenges, professionals can successfully transition to fulfilling new careers. Tammy's story is a testament to the potential for happiness and success that comes with following your passions and making bold career moves at any age.

For more insights and practical advice, listen to Tammy's full journey on our latest podcast episode and subscribe to our newsletter for weekly updates.

Consider discussing your dreams and goals with a coach that can support you as you make this important transition, to minimize risks and maximize your chances for a successful transition.

About Our Guest, Tammy Fitzgerald

Tammy Fitzgerald is a former senior leader who made a significant career change at the age of 49. After decades in high-powered roles, Tammy decided to pursue her lifelong passion for law. She left her job to become a full-time law student, embracing the challenges of returning to education later in life. Tammy's journey is marked by meticulous planning, strong family support, and a relentless drive to align her career with her values of justice and advocacy. Her story serves as an inspiring example of how to successfully navigate a midlife career transition.


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