Is Changing Your Job at 40 a Good Idea?

The older you get, the more dizzy certain changes make you, like changing your job. Today, we want to talk about the challenge of doing it at 40.
Is Changing Your Job at 40 a Good Idea?
Ebiezer López

Written and verified by the psychologist Ebiezer López.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

The idea of changing your job at the age of 40 could produce more vertigo than standing on the edge of the highest and steepest cliff you can imagine. However, there are many people who’ve managed to reinvent their professional careers at this age.

One of the keys is to do it strategically, taking into account certain factors or variables that are essential for making the change. In this article, we’ll talk about some useful strategies if you want, or have no choice other than to start this new adventure.

Looking for a new job is one of those changes that can make you really afraid. That’s because you’re leaving a field in which you feel more or less secure to go to another where the future would be uncertain. Furthermore, you might think that, due to your age, you should already be enjoying stability in your career.

That said it’s worth bearing in mind that, if you’re considering changing your job, it’s because the passing of the years hasn’t blurred your need to improve your quality of life.

Woman pointing in a notebook

Is changing your job at 40 advisable?

40 is a significant age. At this age, you may experience many changes that can lead to identity crises. For example, one of your parents could become ill or die due to old age, which could arouse your fear of death.

Research has found a significant relationship between the fear of death and different psychological pathologies. These include depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders, stress, etc. (Menzies, Sharpe, and Dar-Nimrod, 2019). It demonstrates how certain common events at this age could generate crises of some kind.

During these critical times, many realize that they’re not leading the life they once dreamed of. For that reason, they choose to take certain actions, such as changing jobs or finding new passions. Nevertheless, along with this desire to see new horizons, also comes fear, and they find themselves asking: is it advisable to change jobs at 40?

Changing your job at 40

Depending on the field, looking for a new job at this age can be considerably more complicated than doing it in your 20s or 30s. Your energy level is lower, you tend to have accumulated more eccentricities, and you’ve probably perfected certain enjoyable routines that would be liable to change in a new situation.

Like any other project, taking a step that involves so many changes requires planning and conscious effort. Let’s take a look at some recommendations you must take into account.

1. Define the work you want to do

The first step is to be clear about the job you want to have in the future. If you don’t know for sure, try to think of those things that you were passionate about when you were younger but maybe you weren’t able to do at the time. Perhaps certain situations forced you to put aside your dreams. Nevertheless, it’s never too late to return to them.

If you need a little more help to define the job you want, try the following reflection: if money wasn’t a problem and you could do a job for free, what would it be?

2. Look for ways to specialize

Your experience in the area in which you want to find a new job has a significant weight in your job search at 40. Perhaps you’ve spent years dedicating yourself to a job that only generates frustration and suffering. Maybe you’ve tried to change it, and have even mentally adopted strategies so that you don’t have to think about it too much. However, it hasn’t worked.

Perhaps you look at the job offers in your specialty and have the feeling that you meet only a few of the most demanded requirements. If so, we recommend that you first take on the challenge of recycling your knowledge.

As a preliminary step to leaving your job, perhaps you can request a relocation from your company. This could help you accumulate, on a day-to-day basis, experience in these new areas or technologies. On the other hand, nowadays, there are many good courses available in every sector.

3. Start applying and attending interviews

If you’re going to jump into the pool, you should first go through the shower, put your legs in the water, and let your body gradually acclimatize to the water. So, start your job search while you’re still in your current position. Doing it this way will alleviate any anxiety you feel and, ultimately, prevent you from ending up accepting jobs that you don’t really want.

Furthermore, the slowly escalating acclimatization will help you adjust your expectations. This is extremely important if you’re thinking of also opening up negotiations with your company about your current conditions.

Woman looking for a job
Looking for a job is an opportunity to get to know the situation in the labor market.

4. Consider volunteering

If you’re looking to change jobs at 40, you probably already know that experience is a highly desirable quality. Therefore, applying to work as a volunteer in an organization that’s related to your future work could be of real help. It’s certainly a good option if you don’t mind working for free. You could even take it up as a hobby.

5. Consider the possibility of starting your own business

You may not get immediate or even long-term contracts because the job market is changing. However, that doesn’t mean that you should give up on your plans and stay in an unsatisfactory job. If other people don’t offer you a job, then maybe you could build one yourself.

That said, having your own business has its own challenges. It also has advantages, since you won’t be dependent on anyone else and you can earn money at the same time. In fact, with a well-thought-out plan, it’s possible to start up almost any business and be successful.

Finally, starting a process of psychotherapy could also help you with your goal of changing jobs at 40. It’ll certainly be useful if you’re not sure where you want to go or what you’re really passionate about. In this case, a psychology professional can employ various methods and techniques to guide you and help you discover your true vocation.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Menzies, R. E., Sharpe, L., & Dar‐Nimrod, I. (2019). The relationship between death anxiety and severity of mental illnesses. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58(4), 452-467.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.