Career Advice: It’s Never Too Late To Start

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One of the most challenging things about embarking on the road to success can be the feeling that you’ve missed your chance. That you’re too late to the party. That you’re too old. But you are the only person who can permanently shut the window of opportunity. As long as you are willing to take a chance and put yourself out there, it’s never too late to pursue your dreams. Here are a few things to think about when setting out on the road to reinvention.

Embrace change

Some think that admitting that they want to go in a different direction is a sign of weakness, when it’s actually a sign of strength. It takes guts to acknowledge that a current situation is making you unhappy or that your goals have changed. There can be a lot of pressure to “stay the course,” which often results in making people feel like if they are thinking about moving on, they are not living up to the challenge of their work. But there is a difference between going through a rough spot and determining that the current path one is on isn’t working anymore. Take the time to evaluate your situation, and if you decide it’s time for a change, embrace that with all you’ve got!

Take the long view

A common obstacle to pursuing a dream gig is the perception that it will take too long or that you’re too old to start something new. Perhaps you got your degree in communications, took some time to travel and have been working in marketing for several years. You’re now 28 years old and have recently come to the realization that you’d like to practice law. It’s going to take about a year to research schools and go through the application process, and then you’ll have three years of law school to get through. And then of course, the bar exam.

Right now, four years seems like eternity, and that can be enough to stop you in your tracks. But the reality is that you’d most likely start practicing law when you are about 33, which is still early in the life of your career. Think about it – even if you started practicing law when you were 40, you’d have a 25-year career if you retired when you were 65! While four years is a significant investment of time, it’s quite reasonable when it will lead to a lifetime of work that you love. Don’t shortchange yourself on your dream because you think it’s too late to start. It’s the one way to ensure that it never happens.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you want to change careers, you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Seek out mentors who can provide some guidance on next steps. If you don’t know someone personally, there are fee-based services such as PivotPlanet that can help connect you with industry professionals who will consult with you via phone or video conference.

Analyze your strengths and weaknesses to determine where you may need professional help to move forward. For example, if you are a fashion designer and you realize that what you really want is to open your own boutique with an online component, you’re going to need a detailed understanding of e-tailing (electronic retailing). You’ll want to ground yourself in the basics, but most likely will want to work with an established vendor when it comes time to actually move forward with your business plans.

Industry vs Function

The two most common career changes involve either a change of industry or a change of function. For example, you may currently work in human resources at a large corporation, and decide that what you really would prefer is to work in arts administration. You enjoy the work that you do – you just want to do it in a different setting. On the flip side, perhaps the exposure you’ve had to the world of business and finance while working in HR has inspired you, and you want to go for your MBA. Take some time to figure out which kind of change you want, as this can help you hone in on what you’ll actually need to do to achieve it.

Be prepared for good fortune

I believe in working hard and being prepared. When you combine these two things, opportunities will come your way. Make sure that you are ready for them by putting in the time and effort it will take to know your product and yourself. That way you’ll be primed and ready to walk through that door when it opens for you!