I changed careers when I was 32. Believe it or not, at 32 I thought I was too old to change careers. Let alone the radical change I had in mind. Imagine me feeling “sheepish” when I realised I was the youngest one at the opening day of my coaching studies and that there were a lot of people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. I thought “how brave of them.” Changing career in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and even 60s has its own benefits and challenges. Today, I want to zoom in on changing careers when you are in your 30s.
Why do so many people in their 30s want a career change?
When you think about the fact that you have somewhere between 5 and 15 years of work experience built up so far and anywhere between 30 to 35 years of professional life ahead of you as well, how does it make you feel? One of the reasons I was so hesitant to change careers was a fear of losing all the credentials and experience that I gained. However, when I asked myself honestly if I saw myself continuing on the same path for another 30 years, my answer was NO.
How come so many people in their 30s want a career change? When we are in our 20s, fresh after our studies and choosing jobs, we are often motivated by different things. We want to have a cool company name on our CV, earn a good salary, do something that somehow fits our studies, and we are very eager to simply START. But the years we spend actively working teach us some powerful lessons about ourselves, about what we really value in work, what our strengths and weaknesses are, the types of people we like to work with, etc.
Based on those lessons, we can make two major conclusions:
- The place / company / type of work I am doing reflects and supports who I am, my values, talents, etc.
- The place / company / type of work I am doing does not reflect and even damages the feeling of who I am, my values, talents, etc.
Below are some more specific signs you need a career change:
- You often feel exhausted, irritated, depressed and stressed out as a result of your work.
- You often feel bored at work and you start to feel that the money you are earning is not compensating for it anymore.
- You start to ask yourself, is this it? You secretly have a feeling your talents and skills could be used in a more impactful way.
How to change your career when you are 30+
First of all, it all depends on whether you have some clarity on what your second career could look like. However, no matter how clear or blurry the picture is, take your time to reflect on the past and the future and focus on the following:
1. Identify the lessons you have learnt from your previous career
What have you learnt about yourself (internal) and about the environment and people you were surrounded with (external).
2. Look into the future
Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, or even 15 years? What would make you feel fulfilled, happy, and proud?
3. Analyse yourself and your career through career filters
In the past 10 years of my work as a career coach, I have designed a Career Model that helps people to look into their future career choices through different lenses. This gives them the tools to come up with various career paths and options. In particular, I would suggest you look into:
- What are your core and work values?
- Which of your talents give you energy?
- What is the impact you want to make?
- What do you care about – what are your passions?
- In which environment do you thrive rather than survive?
- Which people inspire you and from which people do you want to learn?
4. Based on all of the above, come up with two or three paths and research them in-depth
Which of them is easiest to follow, which of them is the most exciting to follow? Talk to people who did the change, talk to people who are in the careers you came up with.
5. Make a choice
At a certain moment of time, you just need to jump in and start. Make a plan of how you are actually going to get there. Who do you need to support you, how much money do you need to make the change, do you need to study, etc?
6. Whatever you do, don’t be alone
Our internal negative chatter often has the power to kill our best ideas. So, whatever you do and wherever you are in the process, surround yourself with positive people who will support you, inspire you and, most importantly, keep you accountable.
Benefits of changing careers in your 30s
As mentioned above, changing your career path in your 30s has many benefits. One of the major ones is time. Even if you are starting over and do a new masters course, and even if this could take five years, do you realise that you still would have some 30 years or more to work in this new career? This is three times as much as the time you have already spent in your current career. This put things into perspective, doesn’t it?
Another benefit of changing careers in your 30s is the fact that you probably do not have a couple of kids and a huge mortgage yet, which does make things easier. And even if you do have these things (I had a small baby when I did my own change), you still have lots of energy (provided that you are not burned out), so you can spend some extra time on the required work and studies.
Cons of changing your career in your 30s
Actually, I could not think of one! I think this is the best age bracket to actually change careers.
Have you done your career jump in the past or recently? Share what was most helpful and most challenging about it below!