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TEAM ZOELLA APRIL 20, 2022

Normalising ‘Starting Again’: Navigating Career Change in Your 30s 

We are traditionally taught that career change is something that happens in our 40s onwards after we have either reached the glass ceiling in our current industry or personal life developments like starting a family or even relocation prompt us to rethink our career path.

Are your 30s too young to change your career? Have you established yourself enough, got enough experience, gained financial security? Is it irresponsible to change your career at this age? What is the right age to change your career? What does the right age even mean?! These are just some of the questions that you might come up against when you are navigating a career change or wondering if you are truly living in alignment with your purpose.

We are traditionally taught that career change is something that happens in our 40s onwards after we have either reached the glass ceiling in our current industry or personal life developments like starting a family or even relocation prompt us to rethink our career path. Usually by this point we have achieved our big career and financial goals. We have climbed the ladder and followed the path.  

So, what happens when career change comes calling in your 30s and how do you navigate it?

Fiona’s mission is to normalise ‘starting again’ as an adult, helping her clients to create a life that they love through her straight-talking no BS approach

Not your average career and business coach, Fiona Moss supports women to uncover their purpose and challenge the norm, to do work which allows them to live a life beyond their wildest dreams. Her mission is to normalise ‘starting again’ as an adult, helping her clients to create a life that they love through her straight-talking no BS approach — rather than staying stuck in a career, and life, they hate. For some, that means leaving the corporate world that she supports through her program PURPOSE. For others, she supports them through her business start-up program WILD. Fiona’s vision for 2022 is to help 100 women to find their purpose and step into a fulfilling career and life they love. 

Here, Fiona chats to us about rewriting the career narrative for women and letting go of societal expectations…

Fiona was brought up in a very ‘normal’ UK family. “I got good grades in school, went to university, got a good job in London and I started out on my career path. But despite a successful career as a retail buyer managing a category worth £625m, I decided it wasn’t enough, I wasn’t fulfilled, I wanted to do something different, something with more purpose, I wanted to see more, live my life more rather than just being stuck in a city and climbing the ladder.”

Fiona’s career reset happened after a series of panic attacks. She was trying to live a life that she thought she ‘should’ want, climbing the ladder, ticking boxes, showing up to events she didn’t want to be at. Combined with the illness of her boyfriend, she felt like she had lost the very essence of who she was. She was run down, stressed, and burnt out.

When you are a child, you think that by the time you are 30, you will have your whole life together. The career, the marriage, the house, the 2.5 kids, but the reality for many people is that this is not the case.Fiona Moss

Fiona says, “When you are a child, you think that by the time you are 30, you will have your whole life together. The career, the marriage, the house, the 2.5 kids, but the reality for many people is that this is not the case – me included. However, whilst many of us know the unrealistic nature of this ‘dream’, we still hold onto it and feel a ‘failure’ if we don’t achieve it. When I was changing my career – not having a clue what I was changing into – I felt like I was not only failing my family and friends, but I was failing this person this little girl looked up to. If I dropped my career, I had nothing to show for my life. My friends were getting married, having children and I was back to square one. This societal dream created an internal pressure which held me back from making that step for many years – until I knew I had no choice. But making that step was incredibly hard, the doubts, the fears, the worries. In truth, I cried almost daily, I doubted myself and what I was doing, but deep down I knew what I was doing was right for me – I knew I had to follow this path and my purpose. And, well, I am so glad I did.

“Whilst these fears may manifest themselves in different ways, they come up for my clients too. Fear of failing, fear of letting others down, fear of going back to square one. All holding them back from their potential, a happier future, more purpose, more fulfilment. But it is those who accept that these fears are normal and expected, who are able to accept that they are part of the process so that they can move forward not in spite of them, but with them.”

Fiona is now on a mission to normalise career change at any age and she believes this starts with finding your purpose. 

Too often we put off ‘life’ for the weekend, holidays, and retirement. It’s time to shift the old narrative of 9-5, focus more on creating our own work/life balance and enjoying the process. A life by design, not default.

Fiona Moss

When Fiona was going through her career change in her late 20s she got to the point where she had to make a choice; either change something drastically or nothing will change. She spent a long time trying to figure out what she wanted to do with her life, and this wasn’t an easy answer to find but it was only when she really discovered what brought her purpose that everything started to align.

“I got clear on what I wanted in my life, where I wanted to live, how I wanted to spend each day. I knew the detail and by knowing the detail the only thing holding me back from making it happen was me.”

How to Get Started with Creating a Life you Desire

Ask yourself what ‘good’ would look like for you?

The starting point is to look at how your career makes you feel right now and what changes you need to make. Maybe you feel disconnected from your work and your goals don’t excite you anymore. You might be avoiding the reality that it’s time to change or pivot your career. Spend some time thinking about why you aren’t happy in your current career, begin to consider what changes you want to make, visualise it and begin to explore what that would look like and what action you need to take.

These questions will help you to get clarity

What do you truly want from your work? 

What kind of work/life balance do you want?

What do you want more of – time, freedom, money?

How do you want to feel each day?

What is draining your energy right now – what do you need to stop doing? 

What gets you excited / What do you want to do more of?

Research and planning 

Most people look for a new role by first looking at their current skillset and seeing how they can shoehorn those skills into the requirements of the role. 

But this is the wrong way around. I want you to start thinking differently; to think outside the box. From answering the questions above you will have a clearer sense of what you want your next career move to look and feel like, and then, and only then can you decide on what that move looks like. 

Is self-employment an option? 

Don’t rule out the option of becoming self-employed or remote working. Many people get nervous when thinking about being self-employed, simply because they have never done it before. 

Focus less on whether you are self-employed or not and get clear about what you want from your career. If that includes more freedom, autonomy, control, then perhaps self-employment is for you. If you want more security and stability with a guaranteed paycheck every month then perhaps being employed is better for you.

The most important piece of this puzzle is getting clear on what makes you feel happiest and aligns with what you want from your life. It has to be right for you.

What support do you need?

Changing a career can be incredibly daunting. The what, the why, the how – so many questions to ask not just about your career, but yourself and your life. Your identity starts to shift, and this can be difficult.

Having the right support network around you is critical through this process, whether that be friends, family, a coach or mentor – having those around you who support you, guide you, keep you motivated through the change will ultimately ensure you make the right steps for you.

Make an action plan

Clarity is the first step, but nothing happens without action. Creating an action plan and timeline is key to helping you to navigate your next steps.

Be sure to include the milestones you need to meet whether that’s getting qualified in a new industry, leaving your current job, ensuring you have x amount of savings before you make a move.

Having your weekly/monthly tasks planned out will ensure that you don’t hit procrastination mode and end up losing momentum and motivation towards your goal.

How to empower yourself to take the leap! 

  • Be vulnerable enough to step into something new – to say I want more 
  • Surround yourself with the right people who lift you up and help you to stay motivated 
  • Create boundaries with people who are keeping you small
  • Challenge the ‘rules’ / ‘stories’ holding you back. 
  • Be honest with yourself – call out your own BS
  • Remember life is too short to sit in a place of low vibration and be unhappy in your career 
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