Are you feeling stuck? Is Mid Career Crisis Knocking at you?
I was 36 and everything looked good. I had a job which gave me a lot of empowerment, good salary, lots of travel ( which I enjoyed) and great colleagues. On the personal front, everything was smooth. I had no reason to complain. However, somewhere deep within I had questions ringing in my head : How long are you going to do this? What are you trying to achieve by doing this? Is this what you want to do all your life? Are you chasing your dreams or someone else’s? Also, I felt a sense of hollowness despite everything I did. I was feeling stuck in life and I never knew until a friend who witnessed what I was going through mentioned that I was going through a midlife career crisis. That conversation set me thinking and I set on the journey to rediscover myself, from a career in International sales, I shifted to Executive coaching and now I get a lot of fulfillment and happiness in helping leaders and entrepreneurs play at their full potential.
Every generation, be it the baby boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, the mid career crisis touches people at some stage or the other, the stage at which it touches may differ across generations. The number of start-ups, successful entrepreneurs, and people leaving six-figure salaries to pursue their passion and dreams sets me thinking “are the 30s the new 40s “?
Have you experienced a midlife career crisis? Is this happening with you as you read?
In this article, I am outlining the below
What is a Mid Career Crisis?
Mid Career crisis is a feeling of being stuck and doing something forcefully that you previously believed you enjoyed. The motivations that helped you does not excite you anymore . The motivations could be power, position, money etc. You suddenly feel uncomfortable and ask questions on what you are doing and why you are doing it. . There is no fulfillment, happiness and alignment. The impact of sailing through the crisis can be viewed in the behaviour displayed and the emotions undergone. People tend to feel depressed, uncertain, anxious, overwhelmed, and hopeless.
If you are able to understand that you are going through a midlife career crisis, consider yourself lucky. Many times, people do not even know that they are going through one. It is also a possibility that people might have forcefully sailed through it. I have a friend who always said “ I know I am stuck in life, but I don’t want to make any changes and upset what I have built over the years”. Uncertainty and fear takes over.
Indicators of a midlife career crisis
Let’s take a look at some of the midlife career crisis symptoms. Going through a crisis is not as bad as you think, however, it is important for you to understand if indeed you are going through a crisis or is it just a phase in your career.
1. It’s no more Monday morning, it’s everyday blues:
If you have to drag and push yourself to work and are looking for reasons to procrastinate things at work, then there is something beneath these actions. You experience job stress.
2. You feel like an empty cup, despite being successful:
You may be an achiever, your salary might be extremely attractive, you may be the blue-eyed boy, but you still feel hollow. You are successful for the world outside, but not for the person inside. There is no sense of fulfillment.
3. You are firefighting:
There is a constant need to prove that you are worthy being there. You are in an endless game to work hard to stay relevant and be at the top.
4. Lack of Alignment:
The role that you play at work has no alignment with your values and purpose. Your values and purpose do not align with that of the organisations. When your work does not align with your personal life, it could turn into a midlife crisis, not just a career crisis.
5. Feeling Stuck:
The feeling of not moving ahead. There is no growth, you do not see opportunities. Your skills and knowledge are not being used in the work you do. There is a lot of internal and external resistance to go out and do things the way you want.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover” – Mark Twain
How to handle a Mid career crisis or the sense of feeling stuck at work?
Having seen the indicators, it is important for us to know how to embrace this feeling rather than pushing it away. Below are the 5 things you can do, when you think you are facing a midlife career crisis
1. Listen and connect to self:
Listen to yourself, there is a tendency to push away such things and do not pay attention to what your inner self is saying. Accept what is happening with you. Denial can harm you more. Ask yourself, what is making you feel this? where is the alignment not happening? Reflective journaling is a good way to start connecting with the core.
2. Speak to an unbiased person:
The best gift that you can give yourself is to speak to someone who can listen to you without any prejudice or bias, it could be a friend or a coach. They can help you see parts of the picture that you are not seeing. They will elicit insights and help you see things from a macro level. You will simply feel good when you have poured your heart out.
3. Nurture the change:
In case you feel the need to follow your passion or change your profession. Start nurturing this. Network with the people who are already in this space., understand how they see their world. You may also choose to sharpen the skill through a course or with some pro bono work. This will help you get a better perspective of things and also have a reality check done before you pull the trigger.
4. Get some “me” time “:
Thank yourself: the body, mind and soul. Do things that give you a dose of happiness and make you feel fulfilled. It could be yoga, cycling, charity, running, or listening to your favourite music. But allocate time for the same and respect the time that you give for yourself, make it a habit and a routine.
5. Change course or not:
Identify the benefits that you are currently enjoying that is making it difficult for you to let go. Sometimes, such a feeling can be temporary and is based on the current situation. There are chances that you can adapt to this phase by making some small changes. Still, if there is a need to change course, plan for it holistically, do not make quick decisions.
While the above may act as a guide, It is very important that we understand that everyone’s journey is different and there is no one solution that fits all. When we rediscover ourselves and make alignments to our career syncing with our deepest values, purpose and sense of fulfillment, we get to a better position.
Recommended Books for Midlife career crisis
Some books that I feel that might be helpful guide are:
- “Mid Career Crisis – Why Some sail and other Don’t“ by Partha Sarathi Basu:
This is a self-help book addressing something that is not easy to find and most of the professionals don’t even talk about. This book makes the reader aware of the possible causes of Midlife career crisis and changes one could make to keep progressing in their careers.
- “Designing your life – How to build a well-lived, Joyful life” by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans:
Whether we’re 20, 40, 60 or older, many of us are still looking for an answer to that perennial question, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ Using real-life stories and proven techniques like reframing, prototyping and mind-mapping, in this book you will learn how to build your way forwards, step-by-positive-step, to a life that’s better by a design of your own making.
- “Get a life, Not a Job”: Do what you love and let your talents work for you” by Paula Caligiuri:
This book gives a roadmap that outlines real steps about how you can design your own career, that you enjoy and excel in being a productive well rounded member of society! Whether you’re an entrepreneur or working within a company, Get a Life, Not a Job.
If you are going through a similar phase in your life and need help, do get in touch . I am an executive coach in Bangalore and I connect with people virtually around the globe. Also, If you have any questions on What is Executive coaching and how it can work for you, I have written an ebook: Coaching Demystified, that helps you understand it better. Download your complimentary copy here.
If you have overcome the crisis, Do share your story on how you handled the midlife career crisis, I would be happy to learn and share!!