You’re Running Out of Time!

I have three sons, two of which are in college.  They can do anything right now!  If they wanted, they could fill a backpack and walk the earth. No one is going to stop them, in fact, many will congratulate them for taking this leap while they’re young.

In just a few years, people won’t say that.  They’ll tell them it’s crazy and you’re going to hurt your career, etc.

I’m in my 40’s.  I have a feeling that I’m getting to an age where I no longer can make a change in my career path.

Before you start commenting with things like, “Tim, age is a state of mind”, or “You can do anything you want”, or “Follow your passion”.  Stop it. I’m a grown ass man.  I like to think I’m an adult, although my wife and kids question that frequently. I have adult obligations: mortgage, college tuition, kids to raise, health insurance. I can’t just go off and polish rocks.

We all get to certain points in our life where you can no longer just go do ‘it’. Whatever ‘it’ is for you. I feel like I’m at a point where I can’t change careers, not because I don’t think I could, but because society doesn’t look well upon middle-aged dudes looking to change careers. Something is now wrong with me if I wanted to change careers. BTW, I don’t want to change careers, I actually think what I do is pretty cool. Or hip. Or Hella. Or whatever the kids are saying.

If I decided to go back and become a nurse, right now, at my age, with all of my responsibilities, people would say something is wrong with me. You know what? I would think there was something wrong with me.

My question is more around what is ‘that’ time when if you’re going to do it, you better do it now?

For traveling the world: I think it’s 18-22 yrs old, or after 60.

For completely changing careers: I think you have to do it around 30-35 years old. Later, and you just look like your reaching. (I think most people won’t agree with this, but it comes from my recruiting background and how hiring managers look at older candidates who have made this move)

For having kids: this one has changed a bit, but before 40 seems safe. Otherwise, you’re just tempting science to give you problems. One caveat, if you’re adopting, I’ll push out this age because those kids just need someone who will love them.

For completely your high school or college education: I’m really open on this one. I would say anytime before death! I’m a huge advocate of lifelong learning!

For having grandkids: After 45 years old for sure. If you have grandkids prior to becoming 45, you did something wrong as a parent.

For getting your nose pierced: 17-28 years old. Yeah, I’m looking at you 37-year-old mom with the kid with a mohawk not wearing his seatbelt in the back of your Ford Mustang.

So, hit me in the comments with your age ranges on when you think it’s no longer socially acceptable to change careers!

6 thoughts on “You’re Running Out of Time!

  1. When we do what we do should not be prescriptive…..if we wait until we are 60 to explore the world…will we still have our health? If we don’t constantly evolve and find our true career meaning….will we grow?

    I challenge everyone to push the boundaries and not to let society norms of what to do at what age impact how they feel and perceive themselves.

  2. Hey Tim- Nice end of year read. Ironically, I turn 60 very soon and am pondering the “what’s next” chapter(s). I also recall the Sci-fi movie from which your article photo image came from. In that movie, only the wealthy could “buy time”… Happy Holidays!

  3. I choose to express my age as a percentage, as I’m shooting for 100.

    That means at only 52%, I have more than enough time to change completely and start over.

    I have 3 sons too, aged 27, 24, and 25. No1 is out of university and making a good career start, No2 will graduate from medical school in May (so no worries there) and No3 provides no cause for concern. My bills are mostly paid, and we don’t live an expensive life.

    On account of all this, I feel ready to take risks again, and am more than fired up to do it.

  4. I changed careers at age 55, from 30-year HR Executive to alumni relations and fundraising professional. One of the best decisions I ever made, by the way. Check out The Encore Career Handbook by Marci Alboher, and the encore career movement at

  5. Love this! I will go on record though and say “Tim, age is a state of mind.” However you will need to make some choices about finances early and perhaps use tactics from philosophies around FIRE (financial independence and retire early). Lots of info on this topic(s) both as a whole and independently. Because of all the responsibilities you cited-mortgage, college tuition, kids to raise, health insurance-you have to plan for career changes. But how many of us have this foresight? At this stage I can only help my teenager plan for it using advice like this. It’s challenging but not impossible. Cheers!

  6. I agree with all of these. However, you really can do things outside of the “age limits” as long as you understand that you will likely face more challenges. Nose piercing should be never!

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