Switching Careers at 40 Careers Might Seem Dumb But Sometimes We Have To Take Chances To Be Truly Happy

If thinking about switching careers petrifies you and fills you with self-doubt, you're not alone.

By Marielle Catral

April 15, 2022

“I am terrified!” Thomas Nguyen shared with the AHN community a year ago. “ I am turning 45 this year, so starting a brand new career is questionable right?  But I am very excited too and feel like I can make an impact in my new position,” he added.

Thomas worked hard to get into his dream school despite the fact that he was still unsure of what he wanted to study in college, all he knew was to make his parents happy.

“I am terrified! I am turning 45 this year, so starting a brand new career is questionable right?  But I am very excited too and feel like I can make an impact in my new position.”

-Thomas Nguyen

He landed his first job as a commercial litigation attorney. He felt that was a cool thing to do for a while, but it only lasted three years. He realized that it wasn’t for him and he knew he’d never be a great attorney since he didn’t have an interest in it.

In 2009, he co-founded Peli Peli, a South African restaurant in Houston, alongside chef Paul Friedman as his second job. “I got into the restaurant business by accident, but I have a passion for marketing and branding and helped create a pretty cool brand here in Houston,” he said.

The restaurant was a huge success, it won Eater Houston’s 2017 award for the fast-casual restaurant of the year, but in 2020, Thomas left the operations.

“I got into the restaurant business by accident, but I have a passion for marketing and branding and helped create a pretty cool brand here in Houston,”

– Thomas Nguyen

“After 11 years, and maybe going through a mid-life crisis at 44, I felt it was time for me to take my experience and apply it to commercial real estate.”

Thomas took his new role in retail tenant representation at CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate services, and investment firm.

“After 11 years, and maybe going through a mid-life crisis at 44, I felt it was time for me to take my experience and apply it to commercial real estate.”

-Thomas Nguyen

Beginning his third career, Thomas thought it would either be the dumbest or brightest thing he had ever done, but he believes that in order to be truly happy, people have to take risks. “Wish me luck,” he asked the AHN community.

Fast forward to one year, Thomas recently shared his career journey “I just finished the first year of my third career, and it is turning out to be one of my best decisions ever.”

He is grateful for all the network and experience that he has gained throughout his second profession, which he considers to be a stepping stone to where he is now. Even his past mistakes are now beneficial to his clients.

Thomas shared 6 tips for those thinking about changing careers, especially at an older age:

1.  Make sure you understand why you are unhappy with your current profession.  Is it related to money, the company you work for, or the people you work with?  Make sure the issue lies with the job itself and not something else that can be changed by switching to a different company.

2.  Do you have a particular skill set that will help you become successful in your new career? You will be starting from the bottom, so every competitive advantage will be helpful.

3.  If you do switch to another career, make sure it is something you have a great interest in or a passion for.  To catch up to everyone else, you will need to educate yourself 24/7.  You won’t be able to do this successfully if it isn’t something you truly enjoy learning about.

4.  Find a mentor.  For the same reasons above, a mentor will help you save years by answering all of your questions, helping you avoid the typical pitfalls, and really boost your growth in your new career by connecting you to the right people. I got really lucky because I met my current partners, Brian Ashby and Sydney Dixon, and I would not have achieved this much in a year’s time without their mentorship.

5.  Learn everything there is to know about your new career before you make the jump.  Understand the good and the bad, the barriers to entry, the obstacles, and the time it takes to attain certain levels of income.

6.  Finally, if you are married, make sure your significant other is 100% onboard.  Can your family make it through the tough times while you have a diminished income?  It may take time for you to grow in your new career It will be helpful if your partner can provide you with the emotional and financial support to make it through.

So you see, you are not the only one! Maybe you think it will be the dumbest thing you’ll ever do but have the courage to take chances to be truly happy..and successful!

Instagram: @thomasnguyenrealestate

LinkedIn: @thomasnguyencbre

Email: thomas.nguyen@cbre.com