Think you can’t swap careers midlife? Nonsense. Here’s how

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Think you can’t swap careers midlife? Nonsense. Here’s how

There's a good reason founders of major start-ups are on average 45½ - the key is to be a generalist

Anna Maxted

Many of us dream about changing career in midlife but reason ourselves out of it on the basis that we can’t throw all that time and effort away, and that we’d be clueless in another vocation, anyhow – not to mention about 20 years behind everyone else.

But bestselling author David Epstein says we’re likely to thrive for the very reasons we fear we’ll fail. In Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialised World, Epstein studied the world’s most successful people – scientists, musicians, athletes. He found that if we want to become accomplished in almost any field, spending years dabbling in other pursuits is crucial.

Tiger Woods’s exclusive focus on golf from age zero is constantly referenced as the only way to excel. Actually, Epstein finds that the vast majority of elite athletes have what researchers call “a sampling period, where they learn broad skills” and “delay specialising”...

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