Bob Bly on Changing Careers Later in life

“One of the major keys to happiness is choosing your career wisely and if possible early on in your life.

“According to an article in Personality and Social Psychology, a leading cause of regret in older people is their career choice.

“This intensifies as the years pass because as people age, it becomes increasingly difficult to switch careers.

“Therefore, many people feel stuck in careers that are not fulfilling or maybe weren’t their first choice.

“This is not a rare occurrence: In a Harris survey, 80% of workers in their 20s… and 54% of workers in their 40s… said they wanted to change careers.

“Now, I’m not saying that you can’t change careers when your hair turns gray; many of my subscribers tell me they have done it.

“Still, in my observation, the older you get, the number of options available to you shrinks, in both your work and personal life.

“For instance, I am 62. Let’s say I decide I want to switch careers (I don’t) and become a pediatrician, which is something that appealed to me when I was in my teens (I love kids).

“I don’t think at this point I could get into medical school, nor would I have enough mental and physical stamina to keep up with my 20-something classmates.

“If the medical school takes 4 years and my residency takes 3 years, I can begin practicing pediatrics at age 69 – and today the average doctor retires at age 65.

“So switching from copywriting to pediatrics at age 62 hardly seems practical. But at age 25, that career change was a realistic option for me.

“It seems the more candles you have on your birthday cake, the narrower your selection of career and life opportunities becomes.

“I close with a relevant story….

“At a college, just prior to the start of the freshmen term,students were standing in line to sign up for courses.

“Virtually all of them were in their late teens, except for one gray-haired, wrinkled, and slightly stooped over fellow who looked to be at least age 70.

“The kid behind him tapped him on the shoulder and asked,‘Excuse me, but how old are you, sir?’

“The man replied that he was 72.

“‘Holey Moley!’ the teen exclaimed. ‘That means in 4 years,when you graduate, you’ll be 76!’

“‘Son,’ the older gent replied with a smile, ‘I’ll be 76 then anyway.’”