Career Change for Thirtysomethings

Career change for thirtysomethings creates a unique blend of psychological and practical challenges.

  • I feel like I should have figured my career out by now (psychological)

  • I think I am too old to switch careers (psychological)

  • I don’t like what I do but I have already built credentials and work history in my field (practical)

  • I finally have financial stability (practical)

  • I have a young family (psychological and practical)

Each is a reasonable challenge but none of the above should compel you to stay in a career that is a poor fit.

In terms of regret that you feel you should have “figured out your career”, you have – in fact-  not figured it out, otherwise you would not be on a career counseling website!  Or maybe you figured out what worked for you in the first part of your work life and now you want something different.  Regardless, you cannot fight with reality.   That you feel like you should have figured it out doesn’t mean that you should spend the next several decades stuck.  That makes no sense.  Moreover, you likely overestimate the percentage of people who have solved the career question.  Most every poll indicates somewhere north of 70% of workers feel unengaged at work.

As for feeling too old to switch, the challenge of not liking your career will only get more difficult.  If you don’t like what you are doing now, why would you like it more in a few years?  You will likely work at least until 70 and probably longer.  65 is disappearing as the retirement age.  That number was set when 67 was the expected life span of the American male.  For both financial reasons – as you may need your retirement funds to last until your 90s – and for good reasons – those who like their work should stay working – the majority of thirtysomethings have another 35-40 years left to work.   Does it make any sense to think that you should stay in a mismatched career given that context?  Switching now will prevent you from running up opportunity cost.

Suffice to say, the psychological reasons are artificial constructs that are simply in your head.

The practical challenges are real.  You do need to pay your bills and you likely will need to build credentials/experience in a new field.  Career Counseling Connecticut is not in the business of creating starving artists.  Our work is grounded in financial reality.  We will create a sensible plan for your transition.  In doing so, you will have happy and successful work in your forties and beyond (hopefully sooner!).

Here’s a recent article where I was interviewed on the subject.