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facing mid life career change

How to Face the Fear of Mid-Life Career Change

The age of retirement is steadily creeping towards 70, so at 40 there are potentially 30 working years ahead of you. This doesn’t make it less daunting for those changing careers later in life, but it does put it in perspective.

According to Career Coach Elise Stevens of Age-Defying Careers adequate preparation is the key to successfully changing careers mid-life. She says the pay-off is a renewed sense of purpose and enhanced job satisfaction.

Stevens was in her 50s when she established her own online coaching business to help women in their 40s and 50s renew their career confidence.

She speaks out about ageism in the workplace and believes mid-life job seekers face many challenges. “Sometimes circumstances force people to look elsewhere for a new job or career. But for those who still have a job, even one that leaves them unhappy and unfulfilled, it can be hard to make the decision to leave,” says Stevens.

The fear of leaving their professional comfort zone, not knowing what’s expected or changing a familiar routine can be daunting, she says. There’s also fear of age discrimination and the valid concern of managing finances, according to Stevens.

Her Advice:


Identify Your Goals

Spend some time working out what you hope to achieve from your new career.

Are you looking for a job that pays more? Provides you with a sense of purpose? Has flexible working conditions? A workplace that shares your personal values? Each of these goals is equally valid.

Once you’ve identified what it is you’d like to achieve by changing careers, you can then start thinking about what professions or industries fit your criteria.


Ask for Help

Working out what options will suit you best can seem overwhelming, especially if you are already tired and stressed in your current job. If this is the case, Stevens suggests asking for help. For example, you can:


  • Ask friends and family for their opinion
  • Try an online personality assessment, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This assessment tool is also used by career professionals, and can help you identify your attributes and strengths.
  • Engage a careers coach or vocational guidance counsellor and talk with industry associations about what you are planning to do.


Make a Plan

Elise emphasises the importance of setting attainable goals that can be realistically achieved. In your planning, think through details such as:

  • How will I support my family while making the transition?
  • Will I have to rely on savings and if so, how much will I need?
  • Is there any financial support I can access?
  • What new skills or qualifications will I need?
  • What are my study or retraining options?
  • How much time can I realistically devote to retraining?

Having a clear plan and breaking it down into do-able steps will ease the pressure of preparing for your new career.


Take Responsibility

Change is unsettling, and even scary, says Stevens. So, it’s important to give yourself credit for each step you achieve and remind yourself of your end goal. Know that you can adapt successfully to change and try not to let self-doubt hold you back.

Own your career change plans. Decide on an action today. Do it. Repeat. You can make it happen if you just decide to start.

Finding a new career can be an opportunity that gives your life renewed purpose and direction.


Nurse Turned APP Developer at 50.

Looking for some mid-life career change inspiration? You can’t go past Julie Misson who at 50 became a software developer following a 30-year career as a nurse.

Now in her mid-50’s she has created hundreds of software applications and is an award-winning app developer with her own business Make It APPen.

Misson says her age played a part in moving her towards her goals quickly. “I realised if I wanted to start a business I’d better get my act together. I combined my knowledge of healthcare with my passion for technology and started my business creating apps to enhance patient care.”

There was a steep learning curve in changing careers as she had to learn two coding languages to set up her business. “The Internet is an excellent resource with both paid online courses and free resources. I’m also continually amazed that people are willing to share their own knowledge so freely,” says Misson.

The main barrier to career transition was time, according to Misson. She worked full-time in healthcare and looked after her grandchildren so she was time-poor. “They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. I realised I needed to give something up – so I cut back my work hours, which gave me five days to concentrate on learning new skills and building my business.”

The benefits of changing careers later in life are keeping the brain active, meeting new and enthusiastic people, getting outside your comfort zone and having a purpose, says Misson.

“People often ask if my age was a hindrance or if it put up barriers to becoming a coder – as most coders are males in their 20s – but I find my years’ of experience in healthcare enables me to speak both health and tech jargon.”

“I often say I’m a nurse by trade but a nerd by nature.”

Is a Career Change in Your Future?

If a change of career is on the cards for you consider a professional development course from Australian Online Courses.

Your career matters to us at Australian Online Courses. That’s why flexible study time frames, affordable prices and unmatched customer support from our administration team and tutors are at the heart of what we do.

Our comprehensive array of courses, developed in consultation with industry employers, will give you the skills and knowledge to pursue new roles – and achieve your career dreams.

A state-of-the-art eLearning platform means you can study anywhere, anytime. So, sign up with Australian Online Courses today and get the skills and confidence to make a change at any age.