Can I really change careers at my age? (part one)

Having watched my daughter compete in her first running race at the weekend, I know that age has some impact on our ability to complete and deliver physical tasks at the highest level. However, at 26 she gained the fastest time in her age group. Running was a new experience, and while she needed her Ventolin inhaler at the end she is already planning her next, longer race. She tried something new and, despite the challenges, has found she really likes it.

The reasons for seeking a new career direction can be varied, as can the age at which you choose to seek it.

Abram was not in the first flush of youth (75) when called by God and Moses left it somewhat late in life (80) to begin leading the people of Israel out of Egypt. And there are plenty more worldly examples of people whose major successes happened later in life, after following a different career path, whether it’s Colonel Sanders (at the age of 62), Levi Roots (47) or Monty Don (35, who started his working life making costume jewellery). I have reinvented my career four times so far (first time at age 20; I’m now 56), and I don’t think I’m done just yet.

Often it is an enforced change in circumstances that forces you to make a decision about your future, such as redundancy or ill-health, but I would encourage anyone who is feeling either unfulfilled in their work or who has a dream they want to pursue not to wait for such a life event. By planning and pursuing this in a more controlled way, surrounding it with prayer and good Christian support and advice from friends, you could discover the life for which you were intended, at whatever age.

Knowing what to do may be the hardest part. If you have a personal passion (writing, art, music, creativity, for example), perhaps it’s easier to choose an avenue to explore. Maybe you’ve always had a passion for sailing and by taking a RYA course, you could become an instructor or assist people in discovering the pursuit for the first time. Perhaps you’re a great listener or naturally seem to put people at ease. If so, you might want to look at retraining as a therapist or volunteering to gain new skills.

Maybe serving God full time, perhaps for a little income, is something you feel called to. It’s worth remembering, however, that this is not the only way to serve him. Think and pray round this carefully.

If there isn’t anything obvious to try, perhaps a good career coach or adviser may help. If resources are tight, check out the government’s National Careers Service. This comprehensive website lists many careers and what might be required to pursue them.

There are also online assessments, many available free of charge, that can give recommendations for careers. Why not try one and see if it suggests some things you have not yet thought of or create a train of thought that might lead you in a fresh direction?

Read part two: the financial implications here.

Frank Hutton is professional career coach who truly believes Monday can be the best day of the week. Visit Hutton&co to find out more.

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