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Dear Graham Norton: 'Is 50 too late to make big changes in my working life?'

Graham Norton
Dear Graham Norton: 'Is 50 too late to make big changes in my working life?' Credit: Andrew Crowley/Alamy

Dear Graham

I am 50. I had a wealth of challenging but character-forming early life experiences. I am hard working, intelligent, responsible and mature – though I also like to have fun. Sadly, however, I do not hold any formal qualifications.

Over the years I have taken a succession of fairly lowly jobs to make ends meet, but have often been promoted and given extra responsibilities. Now, though, I yearn for more out of the remaining years of my career – more interest, bigger challenges and ideally a bit more money. Have I left it too late?

Jane, Surrey

'If you don’t try, you will never know what was possible', says Graham Credit: Andrew Crowley

Dear Jane

This isn’t a phrase I get to use very often, but you are only 50. You could easily be working for another 20 years – so of course you haven’t left it too late.

Training to be a lawyer or a doctor might be pushing it at this stage, but there must be lots of other skills you can learn or qualifications you could acquire. Night classes, weekend courses, intensive training: start Googling at once!

I suppose you could approach this problem from two directions. You might find out what qualifications you might need for the sort of job you are seeking or, alternatively, you could consider the things in work (and life outside work) that interest you, and then explore what jobs might be an appropriate fit.

You know what you are capable of, so start letting other people in on your secret!

Having worked extensively over the past few decades, you have something that no young graduate has, and that is experience. It won’t be easy but I’m sure you can find an employer who will value your life skills over a paper qualification – and if you can’t, then you must challenge yourself.

Try starting a small business, and I mean a tiny one, providing a service in your local community. Get creative – is there something you’ve looked for locally but had to find further afield? Could you make something to sell?

The important thing is that you don’t feel defeated before you even begin. If you don’t try, you will never know what was possible.

The worst that could happen is that you end up back where you started, but I very much doubt that will happen. You know what you are capable of, so start letting other people in on your secret!

More Agony

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