Forum: Adults / Work/Employment

When is too late for a career change?
By pokomember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Dec 25, 2013 06:00 AM

Bare with me for this, it will be a long and possibly complicated one!

Ever since I finished high school, I went straight into the workforce. I did hospitality for 3 or so years, working 6-7 days a week. From there I went into media, which me to radio (again, 5-6 days a week, one month I did 37 days straight), which led me to sport. Another job that is 6-7 days a week, and long hours (and little pay). I do enjoy my job, but I know it's interfering with my life, my relationship and my health. On top of this, I have studied part time by distance and obtained certificates/diplomas in event management, sport development and sport & recreation, all while working evening jobs in hospitality for extra cash. Needless to say, I think I've finally burnt myself out.

Which leads me to where I am today. Worried that I've spent so much time working, and not enough time enjoying life. I get married early next year, and my partner and I plan on starting a family soon after. I enjoy working, but I also don't want to ruin my relationship by being too tired, too busy or too stressed in the time I actually have to see him.

As I'm nearing 29, and all my qualifications are in sports and it too late to start a new career? I don't even know what I want to do anymore. I'm considering going to see a careers counsellor, but would it be worth it? I love customer service, and love working with people. I am good at manual labor, as I'm used to carrying equipment, setting up for events on my own etc and I get bored stuck at a desk all day. My fiancé asked me what I wanted to do when I was a kid. I said I wanted to be a writer who owned a farm, was a vet during the week and on weekends I taught dancing. Clearly, that never happened as I'm 28, living in my parents spare room and can't write a story to save my life! Haha. I keep saying I want a job where everyday is different, but then I go "I'll just stay at my job for another few months and see how I go" and a few months pass, and I say it all again. I like the job, I like the people I work with, but the hours/stress/pay/understaffing of the place is very slowly ruining me.

So, what would you do? Even just a slap and telling me to wake up to myself would be appreciated. I feel like I'm having my mid-life crisis a few years early.

11 Replies to When is too late for a career change?

re: When is too late for a career change?
By PinUpGirlmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Dec 25, 2013 07:52 AM
A lot of skills and experience are translatable across many fields. Take a step back and look at your general experiences thus far.

What has working in radio & sport management taught you on a larger scale? Time management? Conflict resolution? Ease in talking to strangers and selling an idea/product? You've got several years in the workforce under your belt which is also valuable. In general, I found career counselors were useless. They suggested careers that were wholly unattainable given my experience.

Another option is perhaps you're working for the wrong people/company. When I stumbled into financial services, I really liked the company I was working for. Then they were bought out twice. I worked normal hours, but I hated every second I worked there after the hostile takeover. It took me getting jobs at 2 other companies before I found the one I'm with now. I started for the salary and had my negative assumptions about financial services totally turned on its head. The pay is more than I thought I would ever make. My boss is fantastic. The environment is really laid back. They don't care if my tattoos show or how I dress as long as it's within the dress code. Perhaps all is not lost in your current field. You may just not have found the right match yet.

I hope some of that helped and wasn't just incoherent babbling. :D
re: When is too late for a career change?
By schuhplattlerPremium member
On Wed Dec 25, 2013 10:03 AM
A new career has been launched, really launched, as late as age 80. Witness Grandma Moses. . . .
re: When is too late for a career change?
By Chaconnemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Dec 25, 2013 11:04 AM
First off, I ended up in a career I didn't study to be in (they came to me), I didn't even know it existed. So right off the bat out of college, a funny thing happened to me on my way to becoming a teacher. I became something of a spy (Yes, I worked for the notorious NSA, but in my days we played by the rules. I retired before "9/11 changed everything.")

While I had only one employer my whole adult working career, I had several very distinct and very separate careers while employed there for 35 years. Fortunately the place was big enough to do this. I started and was hired because I had language aptitude and had proven that I could learn a language well enough to be employed in it. The government sent me to school to learn a rather exotic language at the time. Along with being a linguist, I also became a code breaker (linguistics is one way that is done...sort of like doing crosswords, only in a foreign language.)

When it was discovered by bosses that I was actually better at political analysis than I was at languages (not that I was bad at languages) I was asked to do that.

Then someone realized that because I also had a technical background in electronics, a hobby as a kid, I've held a radio license since I was 13, though not a trained engineer, I could be the person who could translate intelligence requirements into something engineers could understand so they could build the tools we needed for our mission. Surprisingly the engineers actually appointed me to be a Program Manager for a huge, "build a new facility from the ground-up" program, probably the first non-engineer and certainly the only English, French, a History major ever to do that.

I had several other radical changes in my work, totally different from things I had done before, but still classified.

In the end, because I had worked in so many places within my agency (and knew where all the skeletons were) I was asked to postpone my retirement for a few years to develop a training program for new employees and military assignees which I delivered to over 500 new personnel.

I doubt I would have liked doing the same thing my entire career, but between what others thought I could do and what I thought I could do I really shifted gears entirely every five years on the average. I knew early on that I didn't wish to be chained to a desk and I knew also early on that a routine job of cranking out the same sort of work day after day was something I was just not cut out for. I suspect that some of my early bosses thought I was a total misfit (they may have been right.) There were times when I was unhappy with a work situation...too routine, conflict with a boss, misuse of my skills and temperament, that I when to a higher boss with a "play me or trade me ultimatum." I usually got what I wanted though sometimes I had to play some political games to get there. To do this you have to have some confidence in your skills (actually you have to have a LOT of confidence in your skills) that you can pull it off, and you also have to know that no one was going to fire you simply because you felt your were being misused or that there really was something better you could do. I may have been a pain in the butt to some, but even those folks knew I could deliver.

This "challenge the system" approach worked well for me as I ultimately got much higher up the totem pole than many (but not all) of my age and education level peers. You really have to take risks and you have to make your own breaks. In short it is never too late. BTW my wife, trained as a journalist, a mom at a fairly early age, also switched gears by the time our two kids were in kindergarten, and went into education. Again, they came to her because a brief spell as a substitute teacher...something she could on a casual and sometime basis when our kids were very young...made her the person they needed when the school needed a permanent teacher on very short notice. She eventually became a school principal and also shifted careers within education several times from special education to reading to administration.

re: When is too late for a career change?
By pokomember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Dec 25, 2013 03:42 PM
Thanks so much for the responses so far! And Pin Up, I think you're right about the company. We recently have had a take over and a lot of people been let go which has increased the amount of workload, with little appreciation or reward. We nearly missed our Christmas party due to everyone being so freaked out they couldn't finish their work in time.

I think getting towards a new year has made me just freak out... I need change but I don't know what!
re: When is too late for a career change?
By hummingbird
On Wed Dec 25, 2013 09:17 PM
My husband has had several careers, when we met he was in IT, the early 90's crash happened and my dad, brothers and husband were laid off over night, hubby went into transport, both as a driver and into the logistical side of things. We moved here to Canada and now, after quite a few courses, he's a safety auditor, he reckons that he now knows what he wants to do when he grows up, I on the other hand am not sure if he's right yet…

In short, really it's only too late for a career change if you think it is.
re: When is too late for a career change?
By glitterfairyPremium member
On Tue Jan 07, 2014 02:17 AM
Edited by glitterfairy (42646) on 2014-01-07 02:18:58
Short story never too late, long story is 'can have everything you want, but not at the same time'. Decision-making. CAN SUCK. Hahaha! (I just spent the better half of 6 months agonising over how and where to spend my next 2-5 years, so can really empathise with this)

Sometimes I find it useful to work backwards via elimination. I'd be asking questions like "have you researched people who you'd like to BE? What are they doing? How did they get there? Would you need to get further education to get there yourself, and if so, how would you do it?" I was really gung-ho in this one - used Google to find a whole bunch of people who were doing what I thought I wanted to do, and fired off soooo many emails introducing myself and politely asking for advice. Amazingly, some of them even got back to me and were very helpful!

I also find it very useful to externalise and give advice to myself as if it were another person. There was a really nice analogy I read today about recent workplace changes causing this guy to resent the job he used to love - he described it like the beloved old fishpond being filled with sharks, and that it was simply time to find a new pond to be in. Yours sounds a bit different - nice pond, but not enough plants/oxygen/food/love to sustain you there in the long-term. Time for a new pond that nourishes you better! :)

'Optimisation' is another buzzword a friend introduced to me a few months ago, and it's totally changed my life and the way I operate. It's useful when you're trying to decide between multiple options that are good for different reasons. So far you've mentioned working with people, manual labour, variety, a job you enjoy, people you enjoy working with, your health, and time to start a family/nourish your relationship. What's most important to you? What's next important? Write a list of all your possible future options then rank them according to how well they fit your optimisation list. Be brutal. I find it a really good process for learning what I value more - eg in the process of moving, I've discovered that whilst I value thriftiness, I value peace of mind/sanity more, so am happy to pay a bit extra if it means I sleep better at night. Knowing how I rank all my priorities helps me make faster decisions that I second-guess less, which oddly saves me a lot of time and emotional energy these days :)
re: When is too late for a career change?
By Melly2
On Wed Jan 22, 2014 07:44 PM
Careers can develop and change direction all the time. Don't limit yourself and look forward to how you can gain new skills and put them to work. In this climate it's good to have a few skills and the varied experience to back you up.
re: When is too late for a career change?
By DeStijlmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Jan 22, 2014 09:21 PM
Never! I truly believe that if you're willing to apply yourself and work hard at anything, there is nothing wrong with a career change at any age. I also think it is something very common amongst our generation for some reason. A lot of people I know that are our age have been through 2-3 big career changes and they're not even 30 yet.

God knows I've had a few. I've worked in retail, health administration and now arts/events. jobs are starting to become sparse in this town in my current field, so I'm gearing up for yet another change of direction. I just got into law school so thats a HUGE change of direction. I used to feel like a total flake, but I don't care anymore. I've made a place for myself and done good work in each field which has kept me afloat. Not sure there is a hard and fast rule that you've got to pick one thing and stick to it for the rest of your life.

The fact that you've already got two qualifications will probably open a lot of doors for you, no matter what direction you decide to go in. Running events requires all kinds of management skills and I imagine the your sports stuff has you pretty clued up on biology, anatomy etc.

Embrace your early mid life crisis! Change is the best thing for inspiration and motivation, so go for it!
re: When is too late for a career change?
By KaeDancer
On Thu Jan 23, 2014 03:32 AM
My friends and my Mam can't remember what my past jobs are (I have had sooo many) and I'm starting another in 3 weeks!

You are only 29, there may be a few more career changes in the future! It's really never too late and there are people who find that they struggle to settle. I am one of these people!

Since getting married, moving home and changing career 3 times, we've found some stability and this has given us a firm ground to move off from. I am returning to my original career choice because other than being a Mother (trying!) It's the job the suited me best so far.

You have worked like crazy at some points too, the 37 days on without time off and long days... I've been there too and I would not do it again. I was a burned out mess!

Good luck with your wedding! I hope you find what you're looking for, a guidance counselor is a good way to go :) x
re: When is too late for a career change?
By Kettricken
On Thu Jan 23, 2014 06:05 AM
When you're dead?
re: When is too late for a career change?
By dancin_til_death
On Sat Jan 25, 2014 12:25 PM
Edited by dancin_til_death (92905) on 2014-01-25 12:29:53
It sound like its not a new career you need, but a new job. I am sure you could find a job in the same field with your qualifications, and then you might not need to retrain. Another option could be to find a part time job.

While a careers counsellor might be useful, I think it might be more practical to just open the local jobs guide, go through the whole thing, and see if you find anything interesting. Another idea might be to organise coffee with friends in the industry and see if the have any ideas for you. I often find that work contacts can be great sounding boards for jobs that might be going or jobs that you may be able to slot into.

I am going to be a little bit of a feminist here and tell you that you should keep throwing all your energy into work up until you actually are pregnant. Don't start turning up opportunities, letting promotions go etc just because you are planning on having a baby in 3 years. Planning is important, but only start making choices when you actually are pregnant. Of course if work hours are impinging on quality of life now, and amount of free time now which is making you unhappy, well then that's another matter.


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