Careers Over 40 – What I Want Now That I’m Grown Up

You are in your forties or fifties, and are looking at yourself as a working person, and find you’re still asking yourself ‘what do I want to be when I grow up?’ Although this can feel frightening, looked at properly it is a huge opportunity.

Very few of us know what we want to do (professionally) as children. Most of us have varied interests as we grow up, often study a subject at college we are fairly good at, and then are faced with the question: what now?

Many of us then take on a job that serves as a stop-gap until we discover what it is we want to do. An easy option is to head for a profession like law and accounting – there is always a need for these skills. Sometimes it might be a less high powered but the motivation for doing it may be similar.

Over the years we move jobs and suddenly find, in our mid forties or fifties, that the question ‘what do I want to be when I grow up?’ has not been satisfactorily answered. And now you are grown up.

At this age, the question is more frightening than it was when you were younger. You have dependents and responsibilities, and a growing panic, or despair that you really should know what you want to do.

Here’s another way of looking at this situation. For all but the rare few who have known since childhood what they want to do, our work lives are not ‘a career’ as such, but rather an extended experiment, carried out by us in the real world. We test various ways of earning a living. We work in various capacities in different places.

By the time you are in your forties, you have accumulated a mass of invaluable data about yourself as a professional. By looking back over your work life, you can discover what works for you, and what doesn’t. Where your strengths are. What sort of institutions and fields you enjoy working in. Having discovered that, you can now target exactly the place to work in which, finally, to construct an enjoyable, and highly successful ‘career’.