It’s never too late

When I first graduated from university, I made just under $40,000 a year. I thought I had it made! Then I realized that compared to fields like engineering, business or computers, $40,000 wasn’t very much at all. For a while, I didn’t care.  It was my first “real” job!  I would simply work hard and earn raises and promotions over time.  Uhhhhh no.  Not in a science job!  I soon discovered that no matter how little or how much I worked, I would receive a pre-determined raise each and every year.  Many of my colleagues had come to the same conclusion at some point during their careers and consequently, became disillusioned with their work.

Photo Credit: Original photo by K. Sy

I might have been one of those people. After two years of going through the motions at work and waiting for my annual raise, I had had enough. I could have resigned myself to my work and enjoyed my 4 weeks of vacation per year (plus 1 day each year!) until I retired to a kick ass defined benefit pension. But instead of spending my life waiting and being complacent, I decided to do something about it. Many of my former colleagues believed that they had their chance and that now, it was too late. I believed that it was not too late. Sure, it took a big leap and lots of hard work, but I was able to leap into a new, better paying career in two short years.

I find that we are very good at deceiving ourselves. It’s easy to convince ourselves that things are good enough, that change is ‘too much work’, or like former colleagues, that it was ‘too late’ to make a change. But if you are motivated, there is no reason why you can’t try something new!

Some examples from my own life:

  • Two individuals who had trained as Animal Health Technicians went back to school into nurse practitioner programs at the age of 28 and 33, respectively, to train to become registered nurses  These lovely ladies were never straight A students, never “academics”, never “had money”, but nevertheless made the plunge.  They’re both graduated and working in well paying hospital positions!
  • My former manager at a large pharmaceutical company left her $50k a year job to work in clinical study coordination.  It was a big career change!  Instead of sitting at a desk, dealing with HR issues and supply management, she is now working with real patients all over Canada.

Sometimes, the first career we jump in to is not actually a great fit.  Maybe it doesn’t make as much money as we had thought or the work was not as fulfilling as we had hoped.  I think that people should not be afraid to make a change.

It doesn’t have to be a huge change either.  Sometimes, even small changes pay huge dividends in terms of personal happiness.  When Brian felt like he was interested in pursuing wine as a career one day, he didn’t start big.  He started by going to wine festivals and reading books about wine.  He joined a wine club.  It was only later that he got a part time job at a wine store.  When I wanted to write for money, I started by just making a personal blog and telling people to read it.  I volunteered for my professional association’s newsletter.  When I finally started applying for freelance writing jobs, I was confident and prepared.  Sure, I wasn’t 16 anymore and thinking that I was going to be a world famous author.  But hey, it’s never too late.

Have you ever made a big leap?  Did people tell you that it was too late?

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31 Comments

  1. I made a huge leap about 2.5 years ago. I went from sales/estimating projects in the voice/data/electrical field to being a financial coach/advisor. I can’t say that it’s totally worked out yet as time will tell, but I certainly love what I do and it’s been a great change.

  2. I have not made any major career changes, but then again I’m only a couple years out of school. I have been interested in writing and making money online, so I started Young Adult Money a few months ago. We’ll see where it goes.

  3. This has definitely been on my mind lately. A career change is very tempting, but also very intimidating. I tend to get thinking about how old I am already and how long it would take to go back to school and get a brand new career started. You’re right though that it is never too late. It’s just up to me to put the plan into action.

    • CF says:

      It definitely depends on the value you would obtain from a career change. For me, it was worth it because my current (at the time) job would pay for my classes and so I didn’t incur any costs (other than reduced savings and investment ability). The increase in salary that I got afterwards definitely made it worth it.

  4. Michelle says:

    It sounds like you’re doing really well for yourself with freelance writing, CF! I need to get started, but I’ve felt so busy with just the blog, and can only work during nap times and late at night. Must.find.more.hours.in.day! You are inspiring me to try!

  5. Totally agree, it’s never too late!

  6. I knew a guy who worked as a scientist until he retired, then he sold ads in a senior magazine until he died — he made much more money in advertising, but he just did it from home to “stay busy” and he found he really enjoyed cold calling! So you’re right, it’s never (ever) too late.

    • CF says:

      Scientists don’t get paid that much so I’m not terribly surprised… lol. But that’s pretty awesome! I hope I’m that motivated when I am retired.

  7. I don’t think it’s ever too late. This is a timely post for me. I left my job this Spring to help my wife expand the business she’s been running for three years. It was definitely scary at first, but (at least from the looks of it) it is definitely worth the risk. Sure, there are ups and downs…but the potential makes it worth it.

  8. I went to University in the UK and when I moved to Canada they wouldn’t recognize all of my education. I applied for jobs here and was turned down for lack of Canadian experience (discrimination). I did get hired by one company who offered me $10 an hour and I politely told them to sod-off. They called back 2 days later to offer me a management job at $15 an hour ( I hung up the phone). It hit me that in order to get anywhere in this country I would have to go back to school. I did just that and 5 years later I just graduated top of my class. I’ve been working for 3 years now in my field but now that I am done as an intern I am making more money than I ever had but the best part is not the money. The best part was that I went back to school to do what I always wanted to do and should have done back in the UK although I would have still had to upgrade here again. Money isn’t everything, vacations aren’t everything.. but happiness is. If you are happy with what you do and are mindful of your financial health then it all makes sense to do what you desire in life. You don’t need the fancy cars, all the bling to say you have a good life. Live, love and laugh… and never stop learning because when you stop there is always a graduate right behind you ready to take your spot. Cheers and great post. Motivational. Mr.CBB

    • CF says:

      Wow, I don’t know that I would have been able to go back to school for another 5 years, but it sounds like it was the right decision for you.

      It’s funny how we often don’t consider these changes until we’re forced to, from lack of job or opportunities.

  9. Your post is very much in sync with Get Rich Slowly today. If you haven’t gone over there to check it out, I highly recommend it. =)

  10. PF bloggers must be feeling the same way right now. My post today was about stepping out of your comfort zone to get where you want to be in life. Good for you for making a change when you saw that it needed to happen. So many people don’t and burn out really fast.

  11. I hope the leap continues to pay off for you! I’ve considered this many times, but actually found that I could “make the leap” within my own company. It has resulted in more opportunity and way higher payout than I could have imagined or found some place else. I definitely feel it is wrong to short change ourselves and not get the most we can for what we do.

    • CF says:

      Nice! My workplaces have always been on the small-medium size, so there was been less opportunity for movement. Sounds like it worked out for you though!

  12. I’m a little late with my commenting, but just like the title of your post, ” It’s never too late”, right? 🙂

    I’d have to say out of all my friends and family, I’m probably the one who’s made the most leaps, on top of making a big leap. I switched programs in school to start off. I have had 5 jobs, including my current one in the past 5 years. 2 of them were somewhat related to my career, but not as satisfying, just going through the motions. One job was working in retail, trying to keep myself afloat, when things had gone sour at my 2nd professional job. Another was an attempt to be my own boss (sort of), but I got discouraged after 8 months of hard work and not much to show for it financially. Nobody ever told me directly that it was too late, but I myself felt it was too late. I turned 30 this year and have only been at my job for 1.5 years, but this is finally something I can make a career out of and see myself going places. Good things come to those who wait, right?

    • CF says:

      For sure! I’m glad to hear that you’ve found something you enjoy.

      I can sympathize – for quite a few years, I was working 3 jobs over 6 days a week. Between student loans, bills and trying to advance my career, it was really back breaking and numbing. I’m much happier now and I have my weekends back! 🙂

  13. Bill says:

    Going back to school to become a nurse is a great idea for anyone who can go back. You will always, always, always have a job – and they pay nurses really well too.

    • CF says:

      Very true, especially with our aging population. It takes a certain person to do well at being a nurse. That being said, if you can handle the stress and the work, it is a career with a lot of options.

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