How To: Career Change in Mid 30s

It has become increasingly clear that I cannot successfully remain in this career for the next 25+ years of my life. My immediate goal is to stay in my position for four years and hit my next major net worth objective of $1,000,000. I know the number is an arbitrary amount to define as some level of financial stability, but I feel like something will click when I have that amount in my investments, and I’ll no longer be afraid to try something new.

My husband is going back to school to change careers, why can’t I? I do feel rather old, and, you know, pregnant. I can’t go back to school immediately – at least, not when he’s doing it and I’m home with a newborn. But I’m interested in pursuing this longer term… maybe, in four years, when I can save up enough to quit my job or continue part time while studying for a new life.

What would the new life be? I still feel drawn to psychology and counseling, and think I’d enjoy this type of role. I like helping people, and while it would be challenging, I’d feel happy knowing that I made a difference in someone’s life, even just for the day. I’m pretty good at reading people and understanding what makes them tick (others have told me this too), and I’m interested in psychology overall, especially social psychology and how we relate to each other.

Of all the career ideas I’ve had thus far in life, this one feels somehow sustainable if I get over the first hump of totally changing careers and the education that requires. With the $1M in investments, I wouldn’t have to worry as much about taking time off from work. I’d have to live frugally for the years I’m in school, mind you, but maybe my husband then would be open to moving somewhere cheaper where he could work and I could study and we could just have a nice life together.

Maybe this is all wishful thinking – but as I had a breakdown in front of a social worker at my pregnancy clinic today, I felt like I could see myself in her shoes. I felt way more aligned with her mentally than anyone I work with in tech. But, I think my background in the business world would help me add value on the counseling side too.

Well, this is the day’s worth of daydreaming anyway… but, I’d like to figure out a plan to make this work. I’m not sure exactly what type of counselor I’d want to be — school counselor, marriage and family counselor, etc… but it seems somehow achievable. Not at the same time as working and baby, but maybe once my husband becomes a teacher and I get some more money saved up, I can seriously pursue this. It won’t be for the money, that’s for sure. But it will be to have a job that I can, maybe, look forward to — and add some good to the world, versus dedicating my life to helping sell products to businesses.


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8 thoughts on “How To: Career Change in Mid 30s”

  1. Have you talked about your Myers Briggs profile before? Are you an ENFP? I am and identify with your work questions. I keep thinking about going into psychology/counseling too. I work in marketing now. :/

    1. Yup. Well I’m an INFP usually but sometimes an ENFP. Definitely an NFP. Marketing sucks the life out of us — even though our NFP-ness makes us reasonably good at it. 🙂

  2. ISFJ here. You’re like my inner monologue. At 30 and in the 2 comma club, I’m still @ the monotonous grind that doesn’t pay a lot but figure it would be better to do something else when I get kicked to the curb on the next recession/downsizing/restructuring. For better/for worse, I did not in the last restructure.

    For now, I am just blogging on the side which is a lot less risk adverse.

    BTW, what kind of teaching is your husband intending? Middle school? What is the teacher job market like in nor cal?
    I imagine it is very competitive with so many univerisites in nor cal.

    I also have daydreams in the latter parts of my career (eg late 30s, early 40s) I’ll do something totally non corporate – like a masseuse, or a counselor, a human service job.

    For now it’s still cubicle office drone. But then I wonder even with low 7 figs, would I really in practicality still go do some more rewarding/better personality fit/ human service skilled job, or would it make more sense to allocate the funds for after school lessons for the dependent – like sports, music, language, programming lessons.

    I guess I’m just daydreaming too.

    1. Nice to meet a fellow daydreamer. I’m sure there are many of us out there. My husband plans to teach high school. The job market is tough given he’s not going into science/math teaching, so I don’t know what that will look like once he gets his degree. The degree isn’t that expensive all things considered, so him getting the credential can’t hurt and then, who knows. It’s one of those things I’m not really allowed to ask or talk about… we have pretty independent lives.

    1. We don’t live in SF (we’re about 1 hr 15 minutes from the city) but there are still things to do around here in the suburbs, especially hiking and just enjoying the outdoors.

  3. Yes, you can do it. My niece made a career change when she was 40. She went back to college and became a registered nurse (her first degree was in mathematics). It took her three years to complete the program (going full time).

    She loves what she is doing.

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