workplace demographics

The insanity of changing career at 40, 50 or 60...surprising celebrities who did it

Crazy Erin Drawing

A recurring internal conversation performed in my head for a few years before I hit my tipping point in my corporate career

Changing career at my age is one step shy of lunacy. 

Why change at this time of my life?

Why not just sit tight?

Better to do a job that you don’t enjoy until you feel ready to retire and then start really enjoying life with all that free time? 

Who LOVES THEIR JOB anyway?

That attitude might have worked for our parents. It might work for you in today’s climate if you work in a company surrounded by 50 and 60 year old peers.

But it didn’t work for me, after a certain point.

Blinker removal

I can’t remember the specific day but in the last year or so (of my 19 year head-hunting career), I took my blinkers off and took a fresh look at the world around me and asked myself one question:

Does my current business value extensive experience?

Do it for yourself now.

Have a look around your office right now and have a think about your business as a whole. 

  • Define the age profile of your peers 

  • Define the age profile of your team

  • Define the age profile of any international counterparts. 

  • Define the age profile of your customers

There are some exceptions but for most companies, the playing field starts to look a little sparse - even in the 45+ demographic.

Check out these UK statistics:

According to a report published by the Department of Work & Pensions, out of 10.2 million people aged between 50 and the state pension age, 2.9 million (28%) are out of work. Of the 2.9 million, only 0.7 million see themselves as “retired”, yet 1.7 million think it is "unlikely that they will ever work again".

Let’s consider that for a moment…1.7million?

Crikey.  I don’t know about you but that statistic FRIGHTENS THE LIFE OUT OF ME.!

I don’t ever want to be in a situation where I might say or even feel that “it is unlikely that I will ever work again”.  Even writing it down gives me the heebie geebies. 

There is something about this phrase that feels so powerless. But apparently 1.7million people ticked that box. 

What a senseless waste of talent and experience.  

But what if there was a different way? 

What if there was a different way to think about the rest of your career? I know you think it’s risky but if others have done it before, and describe themselves as happier after the change…maybe it’s possible for you?

What if there was a different way to think about the rest of your career? I know you think it’s risky but if others have done it before, and describe themselves as happier after the change…maybe it’s possible for you?

What if you took your own career back into your own hands? 

What if you could change career and do something that you would find more fulfilling for the long-term rather than sitting it out, waiting and watching the ever-thinning 45plus demographic in your company?

What’s that I hear you say?

You don’t know anyone who has changed career in their 40s or 50s?

Of course you do.

Here are some fairly famous people who took control of their careers even though they were half-way through a completely different career.

·        Vera Wang was a figure skater and journalist before entering the world of fashion at the age of 40.

·        Arnold Schwarzenegger – musclebound Hollywood actor to governor of California aged 56.

·        John Grisham was a lawyer for the first half of his career before he crafted a writing career writing legal thrillers.

·        Toni Morrison was a teacher before she published her first novel at 40 and became the first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature (for Beloved)

·        Harland (Colonel) Sanders was a manual labourer before bought his first restaurant at 40 where he perfected his ‘finger lickin good’ chicken recipe and franchised it aged 65.

·        Ronald Regan transformed from Hollywood actor to Governor of California in his early fifties and then on to US president aged 69.

·        Julia Child wrote her first cook book aged 50 after careers in advertising, media and a stint as an intelligence officer.

·        Ray Kroc didn’t buy McDonald’s until he was 56 and had spent his first career as a milkshake-device salesman.

·        Donald Fisher was 40 when he opened his first Gap store with his wife in 1969 with zero previous retail experience.

·        Paul Newman, the actor, was 57 when he founded Newman’s Own Sauces, one of the first food companies to use all natural ingredients.

·        Susan Boyle was 48 in 2008 when that audition for Britain’s got Talent that went viral was recorded. Her net worth has been estimated around £30mil.

·        Linda McCartney was 50 when she launched her vegan food company, after her first career as a photographer.

·        Levi Roots was a reggae musician before his 2007 Dragon’s Den appearance which launched his multi-billion pound Reggae Reggae sauce business. He was 49.

The two things that everyone in this list had in common was that they wanted MORE from their work and that they felt BRAVE enough to give something different a try.

Other stories - lots of them

If you can’t name a few people in your close network who have redesigned their work and are happier for it - don’t worry at all! I know lots of them. I interviewed 100 of them while researching my book X Change: How to torch your work treadmill…


X Change: How to torch your work treadmill. The secrets behind the stories of 20 individuals who changed career in their 40s, 50s or 60s and describe themselves as happier.

X Change: How to torch your work treadmill. The secrets behind the stories of 20 individuals who changed career in their 40s, 50s or 60s and describe themselves as happier.

Some of my clients want to completely over-haul of their career but don’t know where to start.

They know that they have more to give. But they don’t know where to start. They need a partner-in-design who’s been there, understands what they’re going through and can help them design the next stage of their career making sure that it’s more fun, more fulfilling and more satisfying.

Ready to take the first step?

Book in for a free 30min call (free) with me where I promise to give you at least two personalised recommendations on how to begin your own career overhaul.

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