Even though I'm not 40 yet, I strongly believe that there are three distinct career goals we should all aim to achieve before crossing the line into our 40s—goals that will set us up for success as we enter the second half of our careers.
1. Obtain a leadership position
By 40, we ideally have held a leadership position at work or in some other capacity, maybe in a community organization or club. The reason is when we work towards leadership roles, we're able to make a significant impact as well as reap many benefits, like these four below.
- Increased confidence. When you're responsible for a team or leading others at the job, there's a certain feeling of excitement and pride. Yes, with this role you probably have more stress and uncertainty. But the good often outweighs the bad.
- The opportunity to mentor others. A great part of learning is educating others for a better tomorrow. When you're in a position of leadership, you're able to teach others what it takes to be an effective leader and leave your mark on the organization—and, hopefully, the world.
- Support for administrative tasks. Not everything we do in our career is glamorous or exciting, especially the administrative tasks. When you're in a leadership position, it feels like a blessing to be able to assign those small tasks to others, so you can spend your time on other matters.
- Freedom to think outside of the box. As a leader, you're typically able to share your opinion and thoughts to help “steer the ship” in the right direction. This potential impact on a company or an organization is something that can feel quite gratifying and exciting at this point in your career.
2. Pursue your passion
Not everyone wants the same thing out of their career. For me, I realized being an entrepreneur afforded me autonomy with my schedule that corporate America wouldn’t be able to provide. Additionally, I was focusing my work on creative and innovative projects that I couldn’t do when working full time for an employer.
Whether we want to create a nonprofit or travel the world, most of us have passions that we might not be pursing in our current jobs. However, our passions matter, and it's up to us to make time to prioritize them, so we don’t live a less fulfilling life.
By 40, you should be in the position to pursue your passions, whether it's by switching departments, adding on responsibilities to your role, or going out and starting your very own business or side hustle.
3. Give back
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Whether it's supporting our youth, protecting the environment, or providing resources to the disenfranchised, there are several opportunities to make this world a better place. Helping to run a business and doing good in this world are not mutually exclusive.
By 40, you should find some way to give back to your community with your work, whether it's by raising money for charity, ensuring that there is diversity on your team, or dedicating your time to the less privileged.
A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.
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