According to the imaginary standard of living that we subconsciously aim to follow, we’re supposed to have our careers, and lives, figured out by 25 and be on the path to CEO by 30. We should continue to be satisfied with these careers for the next 30+ years, despite life changes and self-development. Far-fetched for some, but a valid plan for many people. Some of us are fortunate enough to strike career gold early on by choosing careers that suit us despite the twists and turns. But for anyone who is hitting the quarter, mid, or later life crisis and wanting something different, please know that changing careers is perfectly normal, and you are OK.
Most of us begin our career journeys at 18. Whether that means starting college or getting our first job as an adult, we have formed an idea about what we want our careers to be. Regardless of our personal experiences, it is safe to assume that we are not who we were at 18. There is so much evolution between 18 and young adulthood, and even more from young adulthood to middle age. So, it is possible that your life experience has changed you, and birth in you a desire for a career that better aligns with who you are now. We are still learning ourselves in the first stage of our lives, so it makes perfect sense that we may come to a better understanding of where we fit in the middle stage.
Desiring to change your career is a sign of growth. It means you’ve developed some desire that your current career is not fulfilling. As we grow older, we are constantly developing and discovering. We learn more about ourselves and the world around us, and we find new ways to interact with it. If we hold onto the belief that our careers should be set in stone at the first decision, or at 30, we’re essentially saying that any growth after that point is invalid and should be disregarded. Life expectancy rates say that we’ve got AT LEAST 50 more years after that; I think that’s enough time to change our minds about a few things.
Really, changing careers does not have to mean throwing away everything that you’ve built. You don’t always have to start something completely new from the bottom. It may simply be a pivot to a different sphere of your field or an addition to the work you’re already doing. The intent is to honor your true passions and allow yourself to grow even when that means pushing past your previous goal.
Necole Kane, formally known as Necole Bitchie, knew her passion was to uplift women and quickly changed her career. As a popular celebrity gossip blogger, she gained a reputation for giving the facts quickly, but then reached a point where it didn’t fulfill her. Her career shifted to a lifestyle blog catered to black women, the site was then acquired.
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay also didn’t get her start in filmmaking. She started her career as a publicist It’s ok to say, ‘I’m going to change right now.’ That’s what my mother taught me, and that’s what I do—by changing from being someone who supported artists to being the artist myself,” she tells OWN. Now you recognize her name on the credits of Selma and A Wrinkle in Time.
If you think that it’s too late to be a millionaire, just ask Oprah. From local news reporter to host of one of the most popular daytime talk shows to now the CEO of her own network, we’d say Oprah has mastered the career change.
In short, don’t be discouraged if you find yourself beginning a new journey. Free yourself of the pressure to stick to a linear life plan. Life is a journey and a continual process of figuring it out.