4 Ways to Give Your Mid-Career Crisis the Boot!
We’ve all heard of the mid-life crisis, but did you know there was a mid-career crisis, too?
In our career paths, we all go through a similar journey from beginning to end. While some people can have uneventful careers, it’s not uncommon to hit a slump mid-career.
To many, mid-career is make or break.
Those who have found their workplace niche will be rewarded with greater responsibilities while the others face a dilemma: stay or go.
Being at such a crossroads can leave you uncertain about what to do.
Worse yet, not facing the crisis head-on can affect other areas of your life too.
Lucky for you, we have four easy steps to get you out of this slump, armed and ready for a fresh start no matter what you decide to do.
Let’s do this.
What is a mid-career crisis?
A misalignment with your place in your career characterizes a career crisis.
This situation can also come with frustration and unfulfillment- feelings that color your every day, turning your job into a chore rather than a career.
If left untreated, it can lead to apathy towards your job and a lack of productivity.
While this phenomenon was once relegated to those in their 30s-40s a few decades ago, the Great Resignation of 2022 saw droves of young people quitting their jobs because they felt undervalued, underpaid, and overworked.
What causes a career crisis?
The reasons people have this career crisis vary with the individual, but here are a few of the most prominent:
You don’t know what you don’t know, and many young people jump into a career without knowing what it entails or if it aligns with their talents and interests.
Whether due to a lack of research or personal awareness, their chosen career doesn’t quite meet their expectations- leaving them dissatisfied with their choice and looking for a way out.
This realization can come early on in the career or sometime after the person has cemented their position in a company over time.
The same can be said for adults transitioning into new careers because their first career failed to meet their needs.
Lack of Opportunities & Growth
Nothing sours talent more than the knowledge that advancement prospects are slim to none.
The glass ceiling is notorious for keeping women and minorities from climbing the corporate ladder, while the paper ceiling prevents those without a degree from growing professionally.
The absence of opportunity and upward mobility can easily make anyone feel disgruntled and dissatisfied.
Change in Personal Priorities
People naturally mature as they age; what seemed important or essential in your early twenties does not always retain its value in middle age.
Life circumstances such as having kids early or dealing with serious health issues can quickly shift your priority away from your career.
COVID, too, allowed people to experience more of a work-life balance than ever before, shifting many people’s priorities towards family and choosing to pursue career paths that would enable them to keep it.
Strong Pull Toward Inner Passion
After careers have been established, work can become monotonous.
Projects are not as challenging as they once were, and individuals stop learning and growing within their field. Being in a professional rut can quickly make employees question their life choices and feel the pull of the passions they once held dear.
Going after those interests before it’s too late can become a factor in driving a mid-career crisis.
What are the Symptoms of a Mid-Career Crisis?
Everyone feels stuck at work at one point or another, so how do you know if you are experiencing a mid-career crisis now?
Lack of enthusiasm
Nothing moves you, not a new project, tool, or even the chili cook-off at the end of the year. Your every response to the word ‘work’ is just meh.
Individuals going through a mid-career crisis don’t feel a sense of belonging and stop contributing positively toward company goals.
Many Americans equate work with a sense of worth- so losing your purpose within your field is a challenging thing.
Employees in crisis become detached when their work fails to produce a sense of purpose within them- and no amount of raises will keep them from leaving.
If you no longer feel a connection to the work you do, chances are you are in a career crisis.
This term has gained popularity within the last two years, especially among Gen Z.
Quiet quitting refers to employees putting in the minimum effort required to keep their jobs and nothing more.
It may be because of a lack of appropriate compensation or acknowledgment, but it’s a big sign you are experiencing a crisis if you are doing this.
Going to a place where you feel like you don’t belong or have a purpose can be tiring.
While it is expected to feel tired after many hours at work, constant fatigue may signal you are experiencing emotional exhaustion and are in the grips of a mid-career crisis.
How Do You Deal with a Mid-Career Crisis?
Now to the part you’ve been waiting for. Leaving a job isn’t always feasible, but if you know you are in a crisis, here are four easy steps to help you ride it out.
1. Divert Your Mind
As the slogan goes, a mind is a terrible thing to waste, and being stuck in a cycle of boredom can make you go bananas.
So change it up.
Get a hobby, listen to music while you work, or find an audiobook you like while commuting.
Letting your mind be creative in non-work related activities can do wonders for your mental health. It can give you something to look forward to and change your outlook on life.
2. Get Away
Burnout is a severe problem in America. According to the Pew Research Center, 46% of US workers don’t use all their paid time off.
Although it’s not conducive in this economy to take lavish vacations, you would be surprised at what a change in scenery can do to your emotional state- even if it’s just a few hours away.
So get away, friend.
Point to a direction and take a car, plane, or bike there- taking in new smells and vistas and letting your brain relax.
3. Look for Options
Crisis doesn’t necessarily mean you hate your job. You may have matured past your role and are ready for more responsibility!
Look for options in your organization or company where you can move to or offer your expertise. It could mean you lend your knowledge to projects in other departments or create a position only you can fill.
If nothing speaks to you where you are currently at, it may be time to move on. Looking for a job takes time, so make sure you have that acceptance letter handy, before jumping ship.
4. Find a Mentor
Mentors are an underutilized resource that are worth their weight in gold.
Finding someone you look up to professionally and knows you personally can be a guiding light in a moment of trouble.
A mentor can highlight opportunities you have yet to identify or can lead you to a career that is more in line with your passions and life goals.
Never Waste a Good Crisis
In the world of project management, you need conflict to grow; a crisis is the height of your conflict- in which you either move forward or fall back.
Often, we fail to create a work-life balance, which leaves us feeling drained and unfulfilled when our job fails to fill the holes left by the things we’ve neglected: faith, friends, family, or a creative outlet.
Although that may not fix the problem, it can go a long way to finding your true purpose.
Getting away to let your mind and soul rest, looking for opportunities where you could shine, and finding someone to guide you through the mire are all crucial steps to surviving this period in your career.
While no one wishes to be in a crisis, instead of seeing it as a predicament- look at it for what it is: a chance to improve and evolve into a better you.
Never waste a good crisis to become extraordinary.
You got this friend.
Go get ’em.’