It’s a story that most can relate to: you’ve been working at your 9 to 5 for as long as you can remember and before you know it, you’re 40, single and (me at least) living in New York City.
Playing “let’s see how long I can go before I fall face-first into someone’s armpit because I would rather do that than touch the railing with my bare skin” is not the nicest way to start your day. (I’m not kidding. Those things on the subway are never cleaned or sanitized. It’s that or armpit).
You don’t know any better but at the same time, you’re longing for a change. You feel more defeated as each year goes by. There has to be more to life than this? Is a career change even possible for women at 40? OMG am I having a midlife crisis?
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The same. Old. Thing.
Auto-pilot overload. Some days I don’t even realize I’ve managed to get dressed, or don’t remember what I ate for breakfast but yet can rattle off the last 3 year’s annual revenue targets without flinching.
(Seriously, once I almost walked outside my apartment door, ready to go to work but with a blouse and just stockings on, completely overlooking the fact I had a freshly ironed skirt waiting for me inside my apartment). Thankfully I realized in time.
I’m still running the rat race today and practically killing myself doing something I no longer enjoy (quickly starting to hate it with a passion) – but after a lot of self-reflection and procrastinating I need a change, a career change and I’ve finally decided to do something about it!
I hate (hating) my job.
First and foremost I consider myself extremely lucky to employed with a full-time job. Secondly, my current job provides me with amazing stability, it’s extremely financially rewarding and I get to work for one of the most profitable and lucrative companies in the world.
However, it’s a pretty stressful job, office politics wears me down and overall it is extremely demanding. It’s a hard-hitting question and “hate” is a strong word. Don’t get me wrong – I am unbelievably grateful for all the wonderful opportunities I have been blessed with so I asked myself – what is it exactly that I hate about my job?
I am not a morning person.
I have never been a morning person so when it’s time to get up for work – I despise it. But there are rare occasions for example, where my body somehow knows I have the day off from work and BAM! I’m up at the crack of dawn like clockwork. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the world is a wonderful place again.
So I guess for me, it’s not so much about hating what I do, it’s about the lack of freedom and flexibility with my time. I mean I am 40, a single woman, no kids, living in New York. A career change sounded appealing.
My priorities had changed as I’d gotten older/wiser and I realize I’d prefer to focus my time and energy on doing something that I enjoy. Even if it means taking a bit of a pay cut (yikes – reality just set in after seeing that typed out).
What would I rather be doing?
The thought of not having to go to a 9 to 5 and instead, having the flexibility to do basically whatever I want, when I want, anywhere I want, really motivates me. Who doesn’t want that?
But if I do that, how am I going to sustain my “NYC bawse lady” lifestyle I’ve grown so accustomed to? A change in career typically means a change to your current lifestyle. Something’s gotta give and ain’t nobody gonna look out for me but me.
“But you’re 40? Isn’t it a bit late for a career change?”
I’ve heard this one too many times.
No. It is absolutely not too late. In fact, timing is probably in my favor.
I went through a similar, life-changing decision when I turned 30. I was at the peak of my career but decided to take a year off work to backpack around South America and finally settle down in London. I remember thinking I was too old even back then. It was just as risky, to leave my job with no guarantee of it being there coming back. I didn’t even have a plan other than pack and go. I was open to a possible career change but I didn’t even want to think about that at the time.
So after a year in London, it was 2008, I made my way back home only to discover that while I was gallivanting around Europe a thing called the financial crisis happened and crippled the global economy. My job was no longer there but instead, my boss consoled me by saying that a rare opportunity opened up in our New York office and asked if I was interested. The rest is history.
Older and wiser.
Just like a fine wine, it’s true what they say about getting older – you improve with age. While I am finding it hard to believe that being 40 is considered “midlife”, I realize I now have decades more of experience under my belt (both in life and work) and fortunately I’m a bit more financially stable than I was in my 20s or even 30s.
I’ve been a loyal employee in the finance industry for 23 years (yes I started extremely young at the “ripe old” age of 19) in a branch, as a teller, then worked my way up the corporate ladder to ultimately where I am now – at the top.
Employee loyalty doesn’t have the same meaning anymore. Nowadays it’s the latest fad where folks are changing careers as fast a…um…millennial? But thanks to my succeeding generation, it’s no longer quite the taboo nor is it considered too late to change careers – even at 40 – since everyone is basically doing it.
If anything, I wish I had done something about it sooner.
Being able to determine the core reason why I feel so miserable about my job situation is partly how I’ve been able to make this decision. After a lot of soul-searching and research, I’ve decided that I will need to suck it up and stay at my current job a little longer. Just enough time to devise and execute a realistic and actionable plan, to create a light at the end of the tunnel so to speak.
Because let’s face it, unless I win the lottery tomorrow there is no way I can leave my job right now and pay the bills and continue having a similar lifestyle. Finding another job just to work at another bank was not technically a career change it also was not an option for me.
No – if I was going to do this, I had to stick to my guns and commit to something that would grant me financial freedom without the 9 to 5. I wanted to commit to changing careers and work for myself.
Again, for me, it was all about sticking to the plan. I researched and researched more. Finally, I decided on an overall passive investment strategy and various side hustle ideas for additional streams of income (think real estate, crowdfunding, affiliate marketing, etc) – all while working full time in the 9 to 5.
I wasn’t expecting to get rich overnight (well I would at least try) but realistically I know even starting small would make a great foundation that I can build on and scale over the medium to longer term. I would aim to grow it enough so that it might supplement some bills and eventually replace my 9 to 5 income. But at least now, I have a bigger incentive to stay motivated.
It’s going to be fine.
I could sit here and write all day trying to figure out if I’m going to f*#@ up big time and throw everything I’ve worked for down the toilet. Or I could keep convincing myself for the next 5 years that the ship has sailed.
Looking back, I?m not averse to risk and I don?t regret anything.? In fact, some of the biggest risks I?ve taken have actually turned out to be some of the best things that ever happened to me. It exposed me to the most amazing experiences, traveling all around Europe, meeting wonderful, new people from all corners of the globe and it ultimately led me to the place I now call home, New York.
Fast forward to today, after all the research, analysis and brainstorming that I have done (which surprisingly I enjoyed and didn’t have to force myself to do – another great sign), I realized that I’ve already procrastinated for the last 5 years and know for certain that I don’t want to waste any more time. Nor do I want to continue being a miserable person – hating that I hate my job.
No one wants to work with the Debbie downer-dragon lady. I don’t want to be that person in the office (and we all know there’s always that one person). I don’t want to be the “battle-ax” that everyone hates. I’d prefer to use my powers for good.
Change is good. Change for the better is, better.
There is no time like the present and yes even at 40, it is the perfect time to change careers.
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