Mid-Life Career Changes: Why So Many Are Doing It


Here’s something to think about: How many careers have you had so far during the course of your life? How many do you think you’ll have before you retire?

If you answered “one,” surprisingly, you’re in the minority. Hard to believe, right?

It’s true. Our version of the American Dream basically suggests that we go to college to major in the one career we’ll have our entire life—but the statistics say that’s actually quite rare. In fact, according to Careers-Advice-Online, the average American is expected to change careers a whopping five to seven times over the course of his/her working years!

If you have been swapping careers every few years and feeling bad about it…don’t. Obviously, you’re normal.

Mid-Life Is Prime Time

In spite of all this data, it seems like for many of us, mid-life is “prime time” to make a major career shift. Between the ages of 40 and 60, thousands of us find ourselves doing something completely different than what we were doing before. (I made my latest career shift at age 70!) Ever wonder why this is? Here are some common reasons:

  • We get bored and unfulfilled. No matter how much you love doing something, sometimes you just burn out doing it day after day for years. When we’re no longer happy in what we do, eventually we get so uncomfortable that we have to force a change.
  • We weren’t in the right career to begin with. A lot of us get locked into jobs we hate early on, simply because we didn’t know better. When we hit our 40s and that dreaded “mid-life crisis,” we start realizing the clock is ticking, and if we want to get into something better, we’d better get to it.
  • We get shoved out. It’s an unfortunate part of our culture, but occasionally we are forced into a career change due to business dynamics beyond our control. A merger might make your job position redundant (which is what happened to me after 20 years working in H.R.). Sometimes a young upstart is willing to do your job for less money than the company pays you, and unscrupulous heads at the top find a way to muscle you out. And sometimes the company you work for just runs out of money. It happens.
  • We experience a major life change. A spouse passes away. You get divorced. The kids leave home and you find yourself looking for a fresh sense of purpose.

Whatever the reason, if you’re facing a possible mid-life career change right now—whether it was your idea or not—the important takeaway is that you’re not abnormal. Something isn’t necessarily wrong with you, and the fates aren’t working against you. Change happens to everyone at some time or another; it’s just your time. What you do about it—well, that’s up to you.

The good news is that change doesn’t have to be frightening or overwhelming, and change doesn’t have to be change for the worse. In fact, if you take control of the situation, change could become your greatest gift as you find that new career you were meant for. If I can be of help in helping you through the time of change, it would be my privilege. Give GiraffesConsulting a call at 646-320-1126, and let’s talk about how you can set up a “Plan G” to help you move forward powerfully.