4 Tips for Changing Careers in Your 40s (or later)

The concept of choosing a career path before one has even sipped their first glass of good cabernet (hi, college admissions prompts) has always been interesting to us. But nonetheless, it's a part of our culture and in our early twenties we’re expected to have it all figured out. 

Except…what happens when you’ve pursued a career in food services or public relations—or even acquired an extensive degree in fields like law or medicine—and you change your mind? Perhaps you never liked your job to begin with or are experiencing burnout. Or maybe you had had a change of heart after returning to the workforce postpartum. Bottom line: you’re in the second half of your career, and you need a change.

We chatted with Jaclyn Johnson, the founder of Create & Cultivate, a media brand providing content, community and curated events for ambitious women, for some tips on pivoting careers when society least expects it. 


  • Jaclyn Johnson is an investor, career coach, best-selling author and host of the top-rated podcast, Work Party. With several career journeys under her belt, Johnson also works as a career coach and is the co-founder of Cherub, a connection hub for business founders and angel investors.

1. Acknowledge Your Connections—and Use Them to Your Advantage

Part of the beauty in changing careers after you’ve already spent decades in the workplace is that you inevitably have years’ worth of connections across a variety of roles, Johnson maintains. From your current and former colleagues, to connections you’ve made both professionally (Former assistants! Long-time clients!) and personally (parents in your kids’ classes!), it’s important to recognize how your network has grown, and act on it. Reach out and foster true connections, as you never know who might be a valuable resource for you en route to your next gig.

2. Stay Curious

“I know firsthand how hard it is to shift and adapt to a new tool that you’re not familiar with,” Johnson confesses. *TikTok, we’re still looking at you.*  “Those who are staying curious in their careers, regardless of which industry they choose, will continue to thrive and grow beyond their wildest dreams.” she maintains, whether that means signing up for online classes, watching YouTube tutorials or even just picking friends’ brains about what works for them in their line of work.

She also shares the benefits of collaborating with younger folks who might have insight and can teach you something new. “Your experience in leadership can’t be taught, it’s learned, and that will be a huge asset for [you]. But, if you are endlessly curious and eager to learn from this new generation as well, you will be [even more] successful.” 

3. Embrace a New Work Culture (And its Priorities)

“I grew up in an era where the last person to leave was the most valued person at the company. Today, that’s not the case. Gen Z brings positive values like balance and avoiding burnout to the table” Johnson says, reflecting on the hustle culture of the early aughts. “I think this shift happened when Gen Z entered the workforce in larger numbers, and millennials started to age.” Maybe this means your younger colleagues don’t go for happy hour drinks with the fervor you once did, but they do show up for once-a-month pickleball games. Or things you once thought taboo—crop tops at the office, transparency about having to leave early for a personal reason—are now Ok. Stay open to these shifts and you’ll find yourself rewarded.

4. Pivot with Passion

We can’t quite imagine anything worse than leaving a job that we’re not psyched about for another that has the same lackluster appeal. Johnson encourages people to really take the time to discover what lights them up. “Make sure that you are leaning into a role or industry that you have some passion around, especially if you’re pivoting in your 40s, 50s etc. Something that you’re connected to and feel excited to learn more about,” Johnson urges. Ask yourself the hard questions, like what you’re not interested in and where your skills and passions collide. From there, you’re ready to turn the page to an exciting new chapter. 

purewow author

Freelance PureWow Editor