There's a saying that 'life begins at 40'. As life expectancy has increased due to advances in medicine and technology, more of us can expect to live to a ripe old age, meaning that being 40 is around the midway point in life for many. It may be a good point to take stock of your life, look at where you've been, and think about where you want to go in the future.
My organisation AAT recently spoke to 1,000 women aged over 40 from across the United Kingdom, to look at how they feel their lives have gone. One of the first things we found is that almost a third of them, 32%, frequently feel anxious about their life and the direction it has taken. More than a quarter, 26%, also said that they often wonder about the way their lives could have been different or better. Having regrets, and wondering what could have been different if you'd taken the other fork in the road can prove to be a common stage in getting older.
One of the main regrets many had was with their careers. Work is where we spend a large part of our time, and if you're not happy with your career, this can negatively impact the rest of your life. 20% said they are dissatisfied with their career, and some 18% regularly get 'Sunday night dread', where they feel scared on Sundays about what the working week ahead holds.
Feeling scared about work could be interpreted as a sign that you may need a change of scene. Making a change can be hard for everyone, but especially if you have been doing the same job for a long time or perhaps have commitments such as children which makes changing career seem risky. It can also be hard to find the self-confidence to go to something new and the job interviews that go with it; 35% of the women we spoke to said that they feel a lack of self-confidence has held them back from having their perfect life.
If your current role truly does give you 'Sunday night dread' however, one way you could try to change that is by doing some training. Training could help you either advance to a new level in your chosen profession, or move into a new career which may make you feel more content. It could also have benefits in other areas, such as helping you meet new people and network. Learning new skills is important whatever age you are, and if those skills relate to your job, or to a new career you are interested in, even better. 18% of women told us that having clear plans for the future would help them enjoy their life and make the most of the transition into mid-life, and finding some training you want to do that can help you progress in your career is one way to put some clear plans for your future together.
The government has released a Fuller Working Lives strategy, calling on employers to boost the number of older workers they hire, and encouraging people to take advantage of the opportunities work can bring, including seeking out a new career if they are feeling unfulfilled at work. The strategy highlights the need for businesses to 'retain, retrain and recruit' older workers, and outlines how jobcentres and businesses can combine to support older workers to continue in their careers or take a new direction. It is good to see the government encouraging older workers with this strategy, and it should hopefully be helpful for anyone older who wants to make a change in their career.
It's never too late to try and get the life you want. If you're one of those people who often wonders about the way their life could be different, you should know that you can still make a change. At AAT we see people come to study with us who are in their 40s, 50s, and even 60s, looking to make a change in their lives. Therefore we know that it's never too late to try and get the lifestyle and career that you want.