Are you ready for a chance of pace? Have you been feeling stuck at a dead-end job? Or maybe you’re just ready to switch things up, but don’t think it’s possible?
Inspired by Tracy’s story in my last blog post, I felt compelled to write about the possibility of changing careers at any age. Many people (especially women) worry that the older they get, the more impossible it becomes to switch career paths. I’m here to help change that narrative and assure you that it is never too late to change careers and start living the life you deserve.
Take a look at Tracy for proof. At 55 years of age, after being on disability for 18 years and working at a minimum wage job, she decided it was time to pursue a new career and take charge of her future. Now, two years later, she’s thriving and working her dream job as a technical project manager.
Look at Your Life Long Term
Careers rarely move in a straight, direct line. I cannot emphasize enough that the path will always look different for everyone. People often choose career paths right out of college, only to realize a few years in that they’re unhappy but are too afraid at the prospect of ‘starting over.’
When I was 29 years old, I was let go from a dead-end job. At first, I was super scared of my future and what this meant for me, but as time went on, I saw my layoff as the perfect opportunity to think bigger.
If you’re concerned that it’s too late or that you’re too old to switch careers, I want you to try an exercise. Let’s say you’re 46 and want to change career paths but are worried that by the time you go back to school and get to where you want to be, you’ll already be 50 years old!
Think of it this way:
In four years, regardless of what you decide, you will still be 50! So, the real question is – when you’re 50, would you like to be at the dead-end job that’s making you unhappy? Or would you like to be thriving with new skills in a new career, finding real fulfillment in what you do?
The Power of Retooling
First, let’s address what it means to ‘retool.’ Retooling simply means making changes to something to improve it. For the purpose of changing careers, this means developing new skills to help get you ahead.
I’ve retooled a total of five times so far in my career. First, I went back to school and took a software development course to help brush up on my tech skills and learn iOS development. A few years later, Apple changed its programming language to Swift, and I once again had to learn new technology.
After working with Apple technologies for a while, I recognized that if I wanted to further myself in my career, I would again have to retool. I went from being an expert in my field to starting over again and learning completely new skills. I continued on to learn application security, then voice applications, and then back-end engineering!
Gaining New Skills Can Transform Your Life
Learning new skills is hard work! You get really good at something and take for granted how natural that skill is. It’s incredibly challenging to go from being an expert at something to asking questions and having to research all of the time. It’s also extremely humbling to suddenly go from the role of mentor to mentee. However, it’s also totally worth it! All of this retooling ultimately led me to where I am today, working my dream job remotely for a Silicon Valley payments company and running DevelopHer.
I was terrified at the prospect of starting over in my career. But I pushed through because I knew it was worth it in the long run. I envisioned where I wanted my future to go and started taking the necessary steps to achieve it. In my best-selling book, The DevelopHer Playbook, I feature the stories of several women (of all ages) who decided it was time to make a change and are now thriving in their new careers. I also outline the five steps you can repeatedly take to get ahead, stand out, and own your outcome.
If you change the narrative to say, “it’s never too late to change careers,” the possibilities become endless.
Because I pushed through my fear of the unknown and started over multiple times to learn new skills, I am now proficient in iOS, security, voice, and web. Having these skill sets has set me apart from others, and I now have top executives from global, billion-dollar companies calling me personally for my technical expertise.
Don’t ever let the fear of age limit your potential. If you’re feeling unfulfilled in your job and ready to make the change, I’m here to say go for it. Invest in yourself, start putting in the work, and discover the future you deserve.