It is never too late to change your career. In fact, you could say it is your moral duty to make that change for the sake of your own health, happiness and well-being.
But what job should I do?
Confucius famously said, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”. But how many people really love what they do? The idea of a vocation, a calling of one’s inner spirit to action in the ‘real world’, is indeed rare.
What a shame that so many of us fall into a career that we don’t enjoy and get stuck there for our entire working life. Worse still, the sole objective of our work is to make money for our retirement. Our whole focus becomes a future event rather than the now.
When I was 28 years old, I was already conflicted. I had chosen a career in the travel industry because I liked to travel but I soon discovered that most of the work involved sitting behind a desk. To compensate, I put my attention on making money so I could afford to travel outside of work. When that didn’t hit the mark, a profound despair set in. This led to my training as a psychotherapist. But that didn’t do the trick either.
I visited a Five-Element acupuncturist for my malaise and spoke of my disappointment and frustration. For the best part of a year, she tried to soothe my restless soul and in desperation said, “Why don’t you become an acupuncturist?”
I was young but it already felt too late to change. Despite that, I enrolled that same week in a Five-Element acupuncture college and started my training.
Was I passionate about the possibility of becoming an acupuncturist? Was it my calling? Did I arrive at school with heart and soul brimming with excitement and joy?
No. But I had to do something, and this is where I landed.
Is 45 or older too old for a career change?
If I thought I was too old to change my career, I was very much mistaken. On my first day I walked into the classroom to be met with a sea of grey hair and weather-worn faces. Where was I?
I quickly realised that the average age of my classmates was mid 50s. These brave souls had quit their long-term careers to start again and learn something new.
Take a career risk!
“What the fuck do I do?” a friend of mine recently screamed in desperation. A working life in an industry she no longer respected felt like a trap, a dead end. But she had no idea what else she could do and lacked the confidence to take a risk on something new.
In a world that is changing at such a rapid pace, the notion of a job for life and a pension is more or less obsolete. We need to be more flexible in our thinking and actions. We also need the confidence to take a leap of faith and trust that we have many latent gifts that, like seeds under the ground, are waiting to burst into life.
Human beings are not machines. We are composed of a body, a mind and spirit. What I mean by ‘spirit’ is our capacity to experience purpose and meaning in all we do. It is this aspect of us that is often ignored when it comes to finding the right career and the cause of many physical and mental problems. To wake each day and head to work without a sense of purpose, beyond earning a crust, is literally soul destroying.
The ancient Chinese Taoist philosophy teaches us that we are “One”. If this is true, it makes sense that whatever we do will contribute to the collective human experience and keep us connected to one other.
Another way of looking at this is the idea of ‘being of service’ in some way. A chef who loves to provide pleasure and satisfaction through food
, is of service to his/her guests. The person who sweeps the streets and delights in providing a clean and attractive space to walk and live, serves the local community. And in my case, to be able to help someone heal in body, mind and spirit is to serve them.
Once we realise that it is not the thing you choose but rather the way you approach it, a whole list of career opportunities opens up before you.
Apart from being a Five-Element acupuncturist, I am also a teacher of this ancient healing tradition. Our training (Yellow Path) is perfect for people looking for a second career and the older you are the better. There is nothing like life
-experience to help one understand others.
Some of our students enjoying the art of Chinese Pulse taking.
What is the best career to start at 40?
Many of our students, like myself, never imagined working with people in this way. They come from all kinds of professions and there is no one kind of person that can do this better than another. There is no one kind of person that can practice acupuncture better than another. Indeed, our students come from many different walks of life.
Equally, there are no prerequisites to enrol on our training.
Much like love affairs the starting point is curiosity. Then the object of our attention becomes familiar and eventually we fall madly in love. Thanks to my Five-Element acupuncturist’s suggestion that I train to become a practitioner myself, I took a leap of faith and enrolled on a course, motivated by nothing more than curiosity. It was only when I started to see the effect of the treatments on my patients that something inside me came alive. That light has not dwindled in 30 years of practice.
What is the best job in the world?
Well, naturally I am biased. Being a Five-Element acupuncturist is clearly the best job in the world. Here are 7 good reasons:
- Being of service to others
- A tradition that has stood the test of time
- A system that is scientific, artistic and philosophical
- It’s never boring!
- Gives a profound sense of purpose – a reason to get up each day
- A fascinating professional relationship with other people
- It really works!
So how do you successfully change your career?
The Tao of Changing your Career.
(10 simple steps)
Step 1. Trust
The ‘Tao’ translates as ‘The Way’. The ancient Chinese understood that each of us has a unique path. We need to stop trying to work it all out in our heads and trust that what we are looking for on the outside is already calling to us from the inside.
Step 2. Be Open
Step back from where you are and look again. Very often we have narrowed career choices through our own limited ideas. Imagine you could do anything and then look again with an open heart and a flexible mind.
Step 3. Take Action
Playing with possibilities and ideas in your head will only take you so far. In fact, this is where we can get lost and inevitably build a strong case for not pursuing anything new. Pick something. Anything! Make a decisive step in that direction. Even if it is just a conversation with someone in that line of work. Do it! See what unfolds.
Step 4. Keep the Faith
As soon as you move in any direction, an obstacle will appear. This is normal. This is the nature of life. Beware assuming you have taken a wrong step. Step back and look objectively and keep the faith that when we move, we are going with the flow of life.
Step 5. Find your Passion
It is possible to find passion in everything. It starts with you. The world is a fascinating place and with curiosity and knowledge even the most seemingly uninteresting jobs can prove to be exciting and fruitful. Every activity in life has its own unique value.
Step 6. Stepping stones
One thing leads to another. Inertia leads you nowhere. Accept that where you start will not necessarily be the end. I started helping people travel, moved to psychotherapy and then I stepped sideways and became an acupuncturist.
Step 7. Be Patient
Getting older brings wisdom and rigidity in equal measure. Change is great and inevitable, but it moves in its own time and direction. Once you get back on the path, you’re carried forwards by the momentum of change but maybe not at the rate you would like. If you are moving from an established career with a certain income, it is unlikely that you will replicate that in a matter of months or years. Be patient and trust that everything will fall into place in time.
Step 8. Enjoy the Journey
We are culturally conditioned to focus on the destination at the expense of the journey. Changing your career will shake up your life. You will meet new people who will inspire you and frustrate you. And when things get tough you may wonder if you’ve made the right decision. You will be challenged by new information that will excite you. At times, it will also make you feel stupid. It’s all part of the journey and if you can take the wrongs and rights out of it, you’ll remember why you made the change.
Step 9. Congratulate Yourself
Any kind of change is risky and destabilising. As you take each step closer to your goal, remember to give yourself a pat on the back. Take credit for honouring yourself and living a life that is more authentic and enjoyable.
Step 10. Keep Going
Once you reach your goal, keep going. We tend to lose interest once the goal is achieved. Hopefully you will have found something that is so exciting and compelling that this won’t happen. But if it does, keep going! Maybe this is a stepping stone to something else and the journey will have taught you so much.
What is it you really want?
One of my patients said to me, “ I haven’t made it as an actor. What can I do to keep that passion alive even though I have no choice now but to change career?”
I asked her what she loved about acting. “Exploring a character’s emotions and perception of the world fascinates me. I’m curious about people and love how theatre is not just entertainment but an education in how we all feel”.
Interestingly, she described the work we do as acupuncturists. Working with our senses, listening, seeing, smelling and hearing. We explore the uniqueness of the person in front of us and work to bring them back to harmony.
Three years later, she has a busy Five-Element acupuncture practice focussing mainly on mental health.
Caroline spent over 20 years teaching teenagers. She went on holiday and dreamed of a new career. On her return she also decided to train as an acupuncturist and now has a thriving practice on the south coast of the UK.
“First comes awareness – then comes change”
Life is a wonderful gift but each of us is responsible for how our life unfolds. When we are not following our path, we are given signs from within. Emotions, symptoms and discomfort alert us to the need for change. If we pay attention to these signs and take action, we get back on track and our life unfolds with ease once more.
A successful change in career is there for the taking. Listen to your heart! A move forward in body, mind and spirit.
It’s as easy as that.
I wish you great fortune with your change of career and hope you might consider joining us on the Yellow Path.
Useful Links –
UK Government, Grants and bursaries for adult learners.
Student Finance England –
UCAS – Careers advice
London Councils Grants Programme
Yellow Path Five-Element Acupuncture Training
The Association of Five-Element Acupuncturists
Gerad Kite Acupuncture Practice
The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success by Nicholas Lore
Take the Leap by Sara Bliss