Making a career change at 40: an opportunity to get it right

40 year old woman with laptop contemplating career change

Quick Summary

Making a career change in your 40s is a chance to get it right. A chance to align your work life with your values, needs, and desires. To work with people you enjoy working with. 

Elon Musk had founded Tesla and SpaceX by his early 40s, proving it’s never too late to start over at 40 and make a career pivot. You only need to clarify your optimal career role. I’ll show you how.

In this article, Making a career change at 40 is an opportunity to get it right, we will cover:

Career Change at 40 - a fresh opportunity to get it right


Your career transition to a new career in your 40s is an opportunity to get it right. 

Why job search for more of the same jobs, if your current career role is not making you happy or is not meeting your needs?

You can get it right this time. Whether you are making a career change at 40 with no degree or if you have several degrees like Elon Musk, this is your chance. 

At 40 years old, Elon Musk launched SpaceX after his success at Tesla. 

Leading up to that, he had made many career changes in many career roles. So don’t be concerned.

He started as a shy young man who was bullied in High School because he was introverted and physically small. But he found the career role where he could be the superstar and then ran with it.

He started coding at 11 years old. For him it was an aligned career for an introvert with anxiety. 

Though shy and introverted, when making career choices he knew in his career roles he had to run his own show or he wouldn’t be happy.

Musk developed a software he created called Blastar and sold it to a gaming app when he was only 12! 

He had a degree in physics by 21, but always pursued his entrepreneurial dream, and by age 27 built an e-commerce platform he sold to eBay for $1.5 Billion. 

He founded Tesla shortly after that at 30 years old. This gave him the resources to found SpaceX. At 40 he was the first private company to launch a spacecraft.

Musk’s many career role changes throughout his career path proves that you always have an opportunity to get it right, even in your 30s and 40s, as long as you pursue your vision. You just need to discover what career role you are meant for. I will illustrate this shortly.

Career satisfaction: gaining control of work life by aligning with your needs


Luckily, a small tweak in your career decision-making approach can make all the difference in your career satisfaction, same as it did for Musk. 

You don’t have to change who you are. You don’t need a career test to analyze your personality type or career aptitude.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusing career advice and assumptive career change tips about the best careers to start at 40. Most are putting the cart before the horse. 

You don’t have to consider this a midlife career change. You are only in your 40’s, you can consider this just a course adjustment!

You are fine just as you are in your 40s! You just need to align your employment roles with your needs and values to gain back control.

Of course, starting over at 40 may have you going through some strong emotions right now. It may make you question yourself.

However, by 40 years of age you have a good amount of work and/or life experience under your belt. You just have to take charge of your career direction to make a change that will bring you job satisfaction and control of your work life.

Yes, you certainly want to examine the practical aspects of career change at 40.

But here is your chance to balance the hard economic and lifestyle realities against the job satisfaction you crave.

You are not alone. Currently, in 2021 stats show career satisfaction is about 56%. This means 44% of us looking to make a change.

Graph of job satisfaction rates since 1987

With an average increase in wages, career satisfaction is about 56%. This means 44% of us are wanting to make a change.

So what is the driver of your wanting to make a career change because of low job satisfaction?

The lack of career satisfaction in your case could be anyone or a combination of these elements:

  • You are in your prime earning years, and the compensation is insufficient
  • The daily grind of the work is joyless
  • The lifestyle of the job may not suit you
  • Your contribution is not appreciated by the company
  • Poor relationship with manager or co-workers
  • Life is short, and you are underemployed, bored, burned out, or stuck in a rut

The main drivers of career change


Whatever the reason for low career satisfaction appears to be, as a Career Discovery Coach I’ve found that the main drivers of career change are often internal mental conflicts that arise from the job. 

If the career role you are in is not a fit, you feel a dissonance. Anxiety. Discomfort. In many cases, you think it’s the boss, but they are just a symptom, not the cause!

Sometimes you’ve just outgrown the job or feel trapped in a role that doesn’t reflect who you are. Or you may have limiting beliefs that are hamstringing your outlook.

So you reach a point where you know you need to make a career change. But what kind of changes do you need? 

The answer to that is simple: align the career roles you choose with what you are meant to do! 

In what career role can you be the superstar?

Victória Azárenka – Former world #1 singles player

Look at a career change as a change in career roles

The big secret of making a smooth career change in your 40s? 

Its a mindset: don’t think of this as a career change. Instead, think of it as a new career role you are transitioning to. A role where you can be the superstar. 

A role that aligns with your strengths: your values, talents, lifestyle, working with the crew of peers you are meant for. 

When you step into the role you are meant for, you are in control. You can be at your best, most productive self. 

Career roles that align with who you are, make all the difference in your job satisfaction.

For example, this happened to me when I worked on Wall Street for Morgan Stanley as a Treasury Bond trader, moving $7 billion a day.

It was a glamorous job, paid well, but I didn’t use my talents in the boring routine of buying and selling trades all day. I didn’t like the long commute to New York City at 6:30 am and getting home at 7:00 pm every day. Especially when I had a young daughter growing up. 

Like Elon Musk, I knew I had to be an entrepreneur. I started several businesses and have never looked back.

The Five Factors of Your Career Destiny

Earlier, I promised you I’d show you how to clarify your optimal career role. I will do that now. 

There are what I call the Five Factors of your Career Destiny. These factors 100% guarantee your career satisfaction. They are the path to identify your Career Destiny.

I will prove it. Better, you can prove it to yourself.

Try this 5 point career change quiz

This quiz determines your job satisfaction in your most recent or current job or career.

If you are in the wrong career role or you are unhappy, its usually because one or all of these five factors are not satisfied:  

  • You might be working in a job that doesn’t reflect your values and beliefs
  • You might be wasting your most valuable talents because you are not applying them in the proper role or industry
  • You might be working in a lifestyle that doesn’t suit you
  • You might not be employed in the peer working for community with the crew of people you want to spend time with all-day
  • You may not be engaging with the ideal customer you are meant to work with, which kills job satisfaction and fulfillment

If you are not scoring yes for at least 3 of 5 of these factors, you do not have deep job satisfaction and probably need a change.

You now have a chance to define these five factors for yourself and land in your most optimal career roles.

Confident career roles make choosing a new career simple


By identifying the 5 factors of your Career Destiny for yourself, you can now choose confident career roles that align with who you really are. 

This graphic below reflects a 5 factor process I have innovated to help you define confident career roles.

The 5 factors include:

  1. Identify the best application of your talents and skills
  2. Identify your career, money and retirement values 
  3. Identify your target market: the clients, customers and audience who most need the services you provide
  4. Assess what lifestyle and workday environment you need to make you happy
  5. Identify in what peer work community can you convey your optimal career roles 

 

graphic with 5 job satisfaction factors and a photo of confident young lady  

When you align these Five Factors of your Career Destiny, you gain control of your career satisfaction. You feel confident in your career roles. At the same time, you become free from work stress and anxiety.

Like Elon Musk, you are connected to your work mission so there is never any concern of losing or changing your job. You are on a path, led by your career role.

You won’t feel threatened by your boss because you are in sync. 

For example, let’s say you blame your boss for career dissatisfaction. 

Now imagine your relationship with that boss if you were both volunteers at a soup kitchen on weekends. You would feel much more comfortable in that volunteer role, and you might even develop quite a friendship. 

When you identify and align your roles with your Career Destiny, your workday is like that. It’s not a power struggle, you are all on the same level, the same team. That is how you gain career satisfaction in your work life, even in a new career at 40.

So what could be holding you back from landing in your optimal career role? 

Are self-limiting beliefs affecting your career decision making?


Making a career change can be a complex process, whether at 40, 50, or in a midlife career change. 

In order to get it right, to get grounded, you may need to look at if limiting beliefs have affected your career decision system in the past.

You may have unknowingly chosen roles beneath what you are capable of!

As a Career Discovery Coach and a mindset coach, I don’t spend much time on your past. I look at where you are in the present moment, and we launch your Career Destiny Blueprint from there. 

However, before you can proceed with confidence in your optimal career roles, sometimes we have to let go of excess baggage. 

This means you need to assess if past grievances or limiting beliefs are coloring your career decisions in a negative way. 

Addressing self-limiting beliefs is an essential aspect of your career transition because:

  • Your limiting beliefs may lead you to stay in a job where you are bored, stressed, underemployed or underpaid
  • You may be going after less of a job than you are capable
  • Your grievances may be a factor in procrastinating or being reluctant to get out of a narrow comfort zone, or be unmotivated
  • You may feel overwhelmed right now 
  • Your fear beliefs may make you feel like you need to be a perfectionist, and have stalled your growth
  • You don’t want to spend your life in regret, wishing it were different 

If you want to get it right this time, you have to put a little focus on this. Your career decision-making depends on it!

How your beliefs work together to guide the change in your career roles at 40


This diagram explains how beliefs work together to support your career role change, and how limiting beliefs can sabotage that change. 

flowchart of how your beliefs support your career destiny

First, look at this diagram with your hand over the red box on left. This is how your beliefs work together to manifest your Career Destiny.

Then, uncover that red box, and you see how negative beliefs might sabotage your career roles: how you think about them, how you make decisions about them, and how you choose them.

As you can imagine, if you have negative self-talk or continually affirm to yourself that you have limitations, then you will have those limitations!

Luckily, you can change a negative mindset to positive affirmations pretty quickly (usually about 3 to 6 weeks.) 

If you feel the need to make a career change at 40, you now understand how to get it right this time.

You can proceed without fear in your optimal career role change, by basing it on the Five Factors of your Career Destiny.

Did you find my approach to making a career change at 40 helpful?

You can discover what new career is right for you in my Define Your Career Destiny home study course. It’s 10 fill-in-the-blank self assessments you complete over a week, assisted by a hands-on Career Discovery Coach.

Larry LafataLarry LaFata is the founder of defineyourcareer.com, and a Career Discovery Coach.

He is dedicated to helping you discover your Career Destiny, regardless of your background, education, or experience. His innovative courses include Define Your Career Destiny one week home study course and Career Destiny Workshop for Friends.

To help you find out more about his career transition process, Larry offers a free eBook, How to Uncover your Career Destiny, where he explains the Five Factors that manifest your Career Destiny.

Sign up below to receive a copy instantly.

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Larry Lafata, Career Discovery Coach

Larry LaFata is founder of defineyourcareer.com and the world’s only Career Discovery Coach. He is dedicated to help you discover your Career Destiny, regardless of your background, education or experience. His innovative courses include Define Your Career Destiny one week home study course and Career Destiny Workshop for Besties.

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