Changing careers at 45 can be a successful professional move if you follow a logical decision process throughout the transition.

The prospect of changing careers at 45 would seem daunting to most people. But it doesn’t have to be painful and create a panic. If you follow a logical decision process throughout the transition, you can have a fluid professional progression and smoothly go through a career change at 45. Having changed career paths twice throughout my professional life, I understand the difficult position you are in and have outlined a step-by-step process to help ease your decision.

STEP 1 – Determine your “Current State”

The first step is to take a pause and think about where you are and where you want to go professionally. This needs to be an honest review of your goals and resources, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to determine whether a new career at 45 is right for you. So let’s ask ourselves a few important questions:

Financial: What are my long term goals? What are the financial goals that will sustain my family and me beyond my working years and throughout the remainder of my life?

Personal: What am I passionate about? What are my career (skill) strengths? What are my weaknesses?

Preparation: Self-reflection is also important. Ask yourself, “Are my skills relevant?” “Are they up-to-date?” “Do I need additional ‘updating’ before proceeding with a change?”

STEP 2 – Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance

Once you establish your current situation, relevant transferable skills and long-term goals, it’s important to evaluate your risk tolerance against those goals. Most everyone establishes financial goals for their retirement including the amount of net worth you will need to accumulate in your lifelong earnings that will ensure you a desired standard of living beyond retirement in your remaining lifespan. Determine where you are in relation to where you want to be and evaluate whether or not it is an acceptable level of risk to take.

STEP 3 – Develop a Plan of Attack

The first step in developing a plan is brainstorming the options. Do you wish to remain within your current career field or is there some other driving force or passion leading you in another (new) direction? This will no doubt require you to consult with people within your network or sphere of influence, as well as networking with others within the respective fields. Consider joining groups or forums or attending conferences or seminars in those fields to broaden your network and increase your knowledge. Referring back to Step 1, you need to weigh each option against your “preparedness” as it aligns with your risk tolerance. From there, you will want to refine your options, evaluate each path and then test each path. This may serve to eliminate or fine tune the options for your next career move. Once a decision has been made, formulate a strategy and prioritize your action plan to pursue the desired transition.

STEP 4 – Take Action

Once your choice is made, put it into action. Don’t stress over it, or you will create new obstacles for yourself. Relax, enforce the plan and stay positive! Don’t question the decision you’ve made, but rather put all your energy into making your career decision a successful one.

Are you contemplating a professional change mid-career? Or have you switched career paths recently? Leave a comment in the fields below.