Do you feel washed up in your career over 40? Many people will have us believe that once you reach the ripe old age of forty that the best of your career is over. You might get passed over for promotion by younger blood, so your career either goes sideways or it is all downhill from now on. Of course much depends on the type of job you do, industry and sector. Is this really fact or fiction? Isn’t it both interesting and heartwarming that such a myth of your career over 40 was blown away by none other than a mother of two young children, British athlete Jo Pavey. After a long and checkered athletic career, often plagued by injury and near misses and having had her second child at the start of the year, in the space of a few short weeks, Jo won a bronze medal in the 5,000 meters at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, with a gutsy performance, stopping the Kenyans achieving a clean sweep of the medals. Only a couple of weeks later, Jo won the first gold medal of her international career, winning the 10,000 meters at the European championships in Zurich.
You are what you think and feel
Mindset, is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? If you believe that your career over 40 will be in a downward spiral, then that is probably the way things will turn out. So, what can we learn from Jo Pavey? Aside of being an inspiration to us all, this has been the most successful year of her entire career and she now has her sights on the next big challenge: her fifth Olympics, in Rio in 2016 and competing for a couple more years after that. Jo, by her own admission is feeling good about herself, relaxed and happy in her ‘work’ and her life. She also knows herself and her body better than ever, which means that she is better prepared for the big events, she can set her goals more clearly and is feeling excited and ready, rather than fearful, which may well have been the case at many previous major championships.
Jo Pavey Photograph: Adam Davy/PA
The Importance of doing what you love
Why push her body through all the daily hours of many miles of training for the next two years and beyond? Quite simply because she loves what she does. She also takes great pride in representing her country at major championships and certainly doesn’t consider all her hard graft as a chore or that she should be slowing down because of perceptions of her career over 40. Research consistently shows that around 1 in 2 people are unhappy and unfulfilled in their jobs. This may apply to you but if not, almost certainly someone you know. Another lesson for us all, in that life is too short, so why be unhappy? You do have choice.
Taking positive action
So, why does your career over 40 need to be washed up and negative? Jo Pavey has proven emphatically, in a grueling sport that it doesn’t have to be. But what are your options, when you reach this stage of your career at life? Whether you still have ambitions to move up the career ladder, change career, develop a portfolio career or become your own boss and set up that business you have been thinking about, nothing will happen unless you take positive action. Too many people moan and groan about their lot and how they hate their job or how they would like to do this or that. Well the reality is that only you can make it happen. You must take responsibility for your career, as nobody else is likely to are they? Taking positive action is Step 6 of the highly acclaimed SMP Career Navigation Cycle process.
If you follow these 6 steps then you will ensure your career over 40 will not just survive but thrive, like Jo Pavey!