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What I learned starting a new career in my 40s

What I learned starting a new career in my 40s

I took a career break for a couple of years when I moved from London to Dubai and realised I didn’t want to return to doing what I had done for the last 25 years.

So, what was I going to do with myself?

Looking at all the options out there can be daunting, not only for starting a new career but also for retraining and being in a completely new environment. I had worked in hair and beauty all my life and applied for and landed a job in an office environment. When looking at changing your career, look at your transferable skills and look at how these skills can work across different roles.

When you are in your 40s though, when you go for an interview, the process is not just an interview for the organisation to see if you’re a good fit for them but also an opportunity for you to see if the company is a good fit for you. Because, let's face it, we are too old for office politics. I know I want to go to work, laugh with my colleagues, hopefully do a good job, and be happy where I work. When you have your interview, ensure you can clearly communicate why you want to make this change, so the company can see you are serious this is the right job for you.

I also learned very early on not to be afraid of learning new skills. I thought I knew loads when I started, but little did I know when I turned on my laptop on day one, I knew hardly anything: what is a Google Drive?! But don’t be afraid to ask questions; it will be worse if you make a load of mistakes and don’t complete your work by the end of the week. I felt really stupid for the first month, but I kept asking until I got what I was doing, and it served me well. I was curious, but I wanted to learn everything about what I was doing. And let's be honest, when you start in your 40s, we don’t have long to learn, so we have to get going! No time to be sat waiting around for someone to teach us everything. I quickly realised that I am responsible to keep developing my own skills in the work environment. And keep learning; when anything new happens or an opportunity arises when you can learn something new, volunteer to learn, or take part in it. Because when you start something new you will only learn if you get your hands dirty.

The other thing is that with a career change comes typically a new environment, so we must change our old ways of working and sometimes attitudes to fit in. A shift in mindset, a change in working attitude, to get a positive outcome. This positive attitude and mindset will mean that you enjoy coming to work daily and will also help you build a better relationship with your team.

I also believe that starting a new career in your 40s shows that you are serious about where you want to be and have a goal for that. You have a mapped path of what that looks like. You have some experience behind you, so if this is a career you have chosen for yourself, You set some personal goals and want to achieve them in a certain amount of time. The passion and drive you will have at this point, I think, is much different than in your 20s or 30s. It is something you believe in more and really want to get there; I feel it is more important as a personal development goal, as it is something you have chosen for yourself through choice, not an obligation or something straight out of university or the only job out there.

If you are ready to take the leap after a career break or are ready to take the plunge, it's never too late, even in your 40s. I'm having a great time two years in!



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