10 min read

Over 50 and think you’re on the scrap heap? Why it’s never too late to change jobs

Over 80% of us end up in the wrong job. Most of us know it because of the nagging gut feeling that tells us so, but plucking up the courage to do something about it is a whole different story.

Often we end up being stuck in a rut because we don’t want to let those around us down. We feel obliged to live up to everyone’s expectations – to be good at our role, to go for the money, have the flashy car and fancy job title, but just because we have all these things doesn’t necessarily mean we’re happy. And for those of us over 50, the thought of moving jobs feels like we’ve got a massive mountain to climb. As retirement is only round the corner, we might as well cling on for the last few years, right? But is waiting it out worth sacrificing our happiness?

Electronics Engineer, Ashley Derrick made the bold move to change jobs at age 60, and it was the best decision he ever made. “In my old job I had got to the stage where I hated going to work, things had changed and I had started to feel like I would never be happy in work again. I suppose I thought that it was me rather than the wrong job, but thankfully I made the change and enjoy every moment of my working day now. There is a real lack of people around in the job market with the necessary skills and experience, particularly in the engineering/technical field, so my advice to anyone over 50 is to go for it and never underestimate your worth.”

It’s never too late to re-invent your career either. Some of the most successful businessmen in history had completely different occupations in their younger years. Take Walt Disney – contrary to belief, his career didn’t always go swimmingly. The founder of The Walt Disney Company started out as a newspaper editor, but was apparently fired because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”

“The founder of The Walt Disney Company started out as a newspaper editor, but was apparently fired because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.””

Changing your job can also be the springboard to starting up your own business. That way you can escape the daily commute, manage your own workload, and take satisfaction in knowing that the fruits of your labour come directly to you. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor recently revealed that the number of over 50s taking on entrepreneurship has risen more than 50% since 2008, overtaking the growth in young entrepreneurs over the past two years.[1]

With start-up loans of up to £10,000 now available from the government to help new businesses get off the ground, lack of funding is no longer a reason to put your dreams on hold. Melissa Mailer-Yates recently hit the headlines for being the 20,000th recipient of the loan. She received £6,000 to finance her start-up, Shakespuss & Co, a company which develops animated characters to make Shakespeare more accessible to children – the idea came from stories she read to her children.

“I have extensive international interest in my product, and this seed-funding has given me the opportunity to bring it to market. Hopefully it will lead to children all over the world dragging their parents to the UK to visit the birthplace of Shakespuss, and subsequently result in a younger generation keen to explore the wonders of Shakespeare and the English language” Said Melissa.

Discovering what you really want in life is crucial if you’re looking to change work. Here are just a few job ideas you could take up:

  • Brew or distill booze (but don’t drink the profits!)
  • Sell something online – start with stuff you need to recycle then start recycling for others.
  • Write a novel (we’re all supposed to have one in us).
  • Open a café – it’s a great way to meet people and often seen as an enjoyable way to spend your day.
  • Gardening – if you’re lucky enough to have been blessed with green fingers, make the most of your skills by setting up a gardening service.
  • It’s important to remember that when it comes to your job, it’s literally never too late for a change of heart – after all, life really is too short to spend time in a job that you’re not happy with.

If any of the above sounds vaguely familiar, then changing career could be the best decision you ever make.

1 The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, (2013),  “GEM UK 2013 Report” [online]. Available from www.gemconsortium.org

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Talking Finance content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions.