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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).

nyc, career change, midlife, 40s
Photo by Victor Rodriguez on Unsplash

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?”career change, midlife, 40s

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.



Now what?

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.

Getting creative.

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.

midlife career change, 40sNo 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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16 thoughts on “I just turned 40 – is it a good time to change careers?

  1. I am going through a similar thing, except trying to get INTO a day job 🙂 I have been in the restaurant business my whole life, and although I make decent money and have been able to support my family on it and have a good life, I feel like I miss out on a lot of life because you have to be there when the business is there. I turn 40 in a few months, and start training to sell insurance in a couple of weeks! At a certain point, you just have to decide to take the plunge and go for it! I wish you all the best in your journey of change!

    1. Hey Travis. Thanks so much for the comment! I hear you. I also have some friends in the restaurant business too and hear it is long hours. I applaud you for taking the leap and am sure it will be great! Happy birthday for the big 4-0 and I truly wish you the best with your career change!

  2. Great great post!  I can relate to your experiences, they sound a little like mine. I don’t like being a slave to the 9-5.  I want the flexibility and the lifestyle and so I’ve bucked the system for a long time.  I’m actually a morning person but when does one get to enjoy it when you’re stuck in traffic or rushing because you’re running late – ironing those work clothes and sticking already damaged feet (from 30 years of cramming them into high heels) into those damaging high-heels once again.  I’m single and have no children so I can relate to that aspect too.  I chucked in a highly paid job for a lesser paid job to follow something I had always wanted to do (a childhood dream). We can choose to live a different way.  We can earn an income in a different way whether that’s passive or something else or even both.  We need to be fearless and know that everything always works out in the end.  I’m at the other end of my 40’s now…eek…so, you have to make the most of life. It’s your life! Thanks again for your article.   

    1. Thank you for stopping by and reading. It’s amazing how much a 9-5 can eat into one’s time but also great that it gives one the motivation to do some self-reflection and figure out what is really important. I know for sure that it does NOT get any easier wearing heels as one gets older haha! I’m so glad to hear that you are following your dreams and I’m hoping to follow suit soon! I wish you all the best and continue to be fearless!!! Many thanks to you 🙂 

  3. This is a  very nice and inspiring article.  At some point it felt like I was ready about myself and I am not a morning person too but sometimes I just have this much energy to go through the morning.  I like quiet morning moments and catching up as the day progresses. The other day I turned 47 and it hit me that I had learnt 46 Nuggets of Truth of which I am writing a Kindle book about.  Turning 40 is a game changer, I had my second born at 40 years and life has never been the same again. I started my Life Coaching career at 46 years old and totally agree with your article.

    1. Hi Rutz. Thank you for reading. I am glad you enjoyed it. Yes, I realized I am only a morning person when I don’t have to go to work! Happy belated birthday to you. Your journey sounds inspiring too and sounds like you have found your calling 🙂 I wish you all the best

  4. I loved reading your article, I am turning 37 next month and I am fearing 40, it’s getting so close my kids are growing up too fast, it feels like yesterday they were born. I am already feeling like I am forgetting things too. I was retrenched a few years back and finding work in South Africa is difficult the unemployment rate here is so high. I felt like I was at a loss and having a midlife crisis at 34.  I then decided to look into the online world for an income and figure out the way affiliate marketing works. I really got going with this June last year, and now feel that it was the best choice I have made.  I still have a lot to learn but a career change was the best, my brain is constantly active and learning something new every day. I now feel I have a purpose. 

    1. Hey Angelwolf there. Thanks so much for reading! Sorry to hear about the retrenchment. I can only imagine how tough it must have been. It is super stressful but I’m also glad to hear that you took action and learning about affiliate marketing. I feel like I’m heading down the same path. Feels great to learn something completely new. I am very happy for you with your new direction and I wish you continued success! 

  5. This is perfect for me to see and I really love everything that involves this. In all honesty, I must say that it is time for me to finally summon the courage to calk it quit on my work. It has simply been crazy for some weeks now. I am 50 and then, there is still no satisfaction in what I do. This is simply crazy. Thanks for sharing this here

    1. Even though it’s a tough predicament it’s nice to know that I’m not alone. Thanks for taking the time to read and am glad some of this resonated with you. I’m pretty sure in the next few years I will probably be changing things up again! There’s nothing wrong with wanted to do something different or be better. I guess it’s true what they say “enjoy the journey and not the destination”. Much respect and best of luck to you! 

  6. Very nice and in kind of funny way written article, yet on actual topic. I think people usually around the circled age, say 20,30,40,50…are in kind of rewind mode, or in capturing where they are. I had the same year ago( turned 30). So your first concern, might come out of it. 

    Secondly you are not the only one, “hating” your daily job. Even you named nice examples for whose you appreciate your job. That is current problem many people are facing. I would try to help you with my personal experience..A year ago I change my well paid job for less money, but in the field I am having passion for and I am building it up and I am HAPPY.

    I think that might be the crucial question, you should ask yourself…are you able to sacrifice yourself for a while, while being happy and eventually achieving what you like or are you missing that patience and you’d like to have everything at once?

    Though one, I know;-)..Don’t be afraid about the age, it is just number, trust me! I hope I could help you a bit with my experience  and I am going to check your blog regularly now. You got me! Best luck by your decision and let us know how it goes…

    1. I really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. Would love to share experiences! You have very wise words. Every day I’m still always learning too. I wish you the best and will keep you posted. Thank you!

  7. Many thanks to you for sharing such an excellent article with us .Yes I agree with you that this is the right time to change careers .Because it has been possible to gain much experience in these 40 years or midlife .Experience is scarce at an early age. And again you prove that age is not a thing to make a career in life. The strength and motivation of one’s own mind is essential to building a career . And if the power of the mind is in these 40 years, then age is never a barrier to a career   .Without thinking of going under 40, I need to think about building a successful career from where I am .And this age is never too late, but it is best suited to work. And in fact you should never expect good use for the ages. Expect good use for one’s ability to work on one’s own skills .Change is always good, but change is much better for change .

    1. No time like the present. I am starting to realize more that age really is but a number and it’s more about how one approaches the situation! I wish you the best on your journey too. Thank you so much for reading 🙂

  8. Interesting post that I believe many women (and men) could relate.

    Like you, I also believe that it is not late to change careers even if you’re in your 40’s might as well even in your 50’s. We are living in an era where “age” is no longer an issue (not sure though if corporate/office jobs would still hire if an applicant is in late 40’s or 50’s).

    And I also agree that, 40 is the perfect age. Why? because people been stupid already during their teens and 20’s, experimenting and stuff. Then, on late 20’s and 30’s– started a career, corrected the stupid stuff (lol). Now, at the age of 40, you become experienced enough to make wise decision and more focus on what you want.

    Although the things I stated here doesn’t apply to every single 40 yr old individual on the planet, this is what most likely the situation and also based on the people around me.

    1. Thank you Mina! Agreed. I know I was no angel back in my 20s or 30s and definitely learned from some mistakes I made! Little did I know at the time it was going to actually help me one day 🙂 Thanks again

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