By Leigh-Ann Athanasius

The scariest thing about change is that it will keep happening, whether we like it or not. Starting anything new or even changing the way you have always done things can be intimidating, but it is even more so when making a decision that feels as big as a career change in your thirties.

However, pursuing a career that aligns with your passions and goals is a courageous and fulfilling endeavour. This doesn’t mean that it comes without challenges, but with a bit of self-reflection, you can successfully make it through a career change.

Why are you looking for change?

The first step in deciding to change careers should be understanding why you are looking to make that change. There are two key reasons why you may be looking for a career change and this should be the guide for what your next field or industry could be serving within you:

  • Self-Discovery: Your twenties were likely a time of exploration and learning. As you enter your thirties, you may find that your values, interests, and priorities have evolved. This self-discovery can spark a desire for a career that better aligns with your newfound sense of self.
  • Burnout and Discontent: It’s not uncommon to experience burnout or discontent in your current career by your thirties. If your job is leaving you unfulfilled or drained, it may be a sign that it’s time to explore new opportunities that bring you a sense of purpose and joy.

To be clear, your ‘why’ of a career change could be a combination of the two above; but understanding which of the two it is ‘more of’ is helpful. From here, you can start to research and narrow down areas that you feel would meet the needs that your current career/job does not serve.

Concerns about changing careers

It is natural to have apprehensions when making a career change.  The main concern for many is the potential impact this change will have on your finances.

Something to think about as you’re researching a new career is figuring out how long the typical recruitment cycle for roles in that area of interest typically is. Once you know this, you should create a realistic budget that serves your basic needs and can give you a financial cushion that you are comfortable with. Give yourself the wiggle room to grow into a new career without having to be overly worried about your financial status.

Be okay with being a beginner. You are going to be stepping into a different field and you may not be as well versed as you used to be in your previous career; that’s okay. Chances are that if you are looking to make this change, then you are already more open to doing something new and growing from there. Embrace being the new person and see it as the opportunity for growth that it is.

Making it happen

It may seem like you need to start from scratch when you finally decide to make the transition but remember that you have years of experience under your belt. You just need to know how to leverage it.

Regardless of the careers in question, you will have some transferable skills. Take the time to assess the skills you have and those needed for the new career. There will be skills that you can apply across the board. If you need job specific skills, start to acquire them before you make the transition. Attend workshops and enroll in part-time courses or certifications to build the foundation of your new field.

Lean into your network to get your foot in the door of the new industry/field. Connect with other professionals in that field to get informational interviews about the nuances of that career. These relationships could develop into mentorships and potential job opportunities.

Before fully committing to a new career, consider gaining hands-on experience through volunteer work or freelance opportunities. This allows you to evaluate whether the new path is the right fit for you. At this point, you know that careers are not always a hit on the first go, so a trial run could be beneficial.

Take the leap…

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it and join the dance.” — Alan Watts

Changing careers in your thirties is a brave step toward personal and professional fulfilment. Embrace the journey, acknowledge the challenges, and leverage your unique experiences to propel yourself into a career that aligns with your passions. We sometimes overthink about what to expect when the best thing you can do is to just make the leap. If you know your why and leverage the resources you have built to this point, it’s never too late to pursue a path that brings you happiness.

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