Navigating the Mid Career Crisis
Career Uprising and Virginia Oak Counseling often support individuals in Mid-life career crisis. Lorraine Rise, Owner of Career Uprising, wrote us a great article to share with you about this important topic.
You hear a lot about the mid-life crisis. When you reach the midpoint of any journey, it’s natural to feel some restless and to want to re-evaluate your progress. Is this direction still working for me? Do I have different priorities now than I did when I was younger?
These feeling of uncertainty extend to our careers as well, resulting in a mid-career crisis for many in their 40s and 50s. As a career coach, I work extensively with mid and late career professionals and this is a common concern.
Reality often sets in that you’re not 25 anymore, but your competition is. You’re not early career, but you’re not ready to retire either. Where does that leave you? You still need to be seen as relevant and competitive, but you don’t know how to do that. Or, maybe you don’t even know what you want to do with your career anymore.
For some, they wake up one day at 45 and realize that the career they’ve been in for the last 20 years may not have ever been right for them. If this sounds familiar, then this article will be therapy for you.
First, let’s define a mid-career in case you don’t know if that applies to you. Generally, if you are in your late thirties and definitely in your forties, with about 15-20 years of work experience, then you are probably mid-career. I generally start to consider people late career when they hit 50. But of course, age is just a number, right?
This is the time in people’s careers where they start to worry about two things:
- Whether or not they are still satisfied in their chosen career path
- How easily they can get a new job due to age bias and competitive job market
Once people hit that magical age of 50, or even start approaching it, they start to worry about their ability to get a new job contributing even more to their stress and sense of “crisis”.
Let’s tackle the first concern really quick. It’s very normal and even necessary, I believe, to pause and take stock of where you are at when you reach the midpoint of anything. It’s a little progress check. I would encourage you to do this at any point in your career, but definitely when you feel you are at a crossroads or a midpoint. What you want to ask yourself here are some of the following questions:
Am I still happy doing what I’m doing?
Have my priorities in my career changed in the last few years?
What matters most to me right now? Money? Job satisfaction? Growth potential? Location?
Does making a change feel right—right now?
And don’t worry about the “how” with this question. You don’t have to know how you are going to do something when you start out. All you need to know is if you want to do it.
If you ask yourself these questions and give yourself honest answers, you’ll gain clarity on whether or not you should make a career change at this point. Your intuition is going to be of utmost importance here. And the good news is the older we get, the wiser and more aware of our intuition we tend to be. So, trust yourself here. I would highly encourage you to write out your thoughts and responses here. Get it out of your brain and onto paper.
The second big concern that people start to have around the mid-career point is ageism. The older we get, the more we worry about competing against younger job seekers and overcoming biases. Here’s what we know about discrimination. Yes, it does exist the job market unfortunately. How much it really exists is very difficult to measure. Discrimination of any kind is inherently very difficult to quantify or prove.
But here’s one advantage that older job seekers actually have over younger folks. The older you are the larger your professional network usually is, and you should absolutely leverage that as much as possible. Relying on your network for information and referrals is going to be key in getting you through a job search or career transition at this stage.
The bottom line is this: The mid-career point doesn’t have to be a rut. Use this time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished so far and celebrate that. Resist the urge to have the word “should” in your self-talk.
“I should be further along than I am.”
“I should be making XXX amount of money by now.”
The word “should” is essentially a regret and judgment on yourself which does nothing to help your cause. It will only leave you feeling inadequate. Once you’ve reflected on your past, make a plan for the future.
Where you do want to go next?
What goals are still left to accomplish?
How can you take even baby steps towards those things?
Lorraine Rise is the owner of Career UpRising, LLC which supports mid and late career professionals with job searching and career transitions. She can be reached at www.careeruprising.com