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The Mid Career Crisis

Many of the women I work with are in their early 40’s and are questioning their career. They have achieved a great deal of success but are now agonising over how come they don’t feel more delighted and excited given that they have achieved all they planned as they danced into the workforce all those years, filled with energy and ambition. Somehow their success feels hollow and they are left questioning. “Is this it?”

Jobs that brought pride, challenge and intense satisfaction, are no longer fulfilling or even mildly attractive!

For many it is a time for career transition born out of a natural movement towards considering the meaning of life, a review of values and questioning whether the career they have built is actually the career that they want.

Something seems to happen for us women in our 40’s. What we so desperately wanted in out twenties and thirties doesn’t seem to be what we want now. What once was in perfect alignment with who we were, is no longer. Our priorities have shifted, our values changed and we as people have grown.

This idea resonates with me … a lot. Where once I wanted job security, opportunity for career growth and a clear pathway towards more responsibility … now, what matters most to me are flexibility, job satisfaction and doing something truly meaningful.

Over time our personal values gradually shift, influenced by life’s experiences such marriages, children, bereavement, divorce, illness, redundancy and personal achievements and growth. The shift is slow and gradual. It goes unnoticed and over time the gap between our goals and what we now value most in our lives keeps widening until suddenly somewhere around midlife we are confronted with a mismatch between the two.

It is confusing, unsettling and leaves many craving for more meaning and fulfillment from their career. 

Too often I see women settling for the status quo, wishing and hoping that things will change, but they never do. Perhaps it is the fear of change, but more often than not I believe most stay put because they haven’t yet figured out their plan “B”.

Coming up with a plan “B” can be seen as confronting and overwhelming…. Or it can be seen as an exciting fresh start. You get to choose! Given that you have about 20 more years of employment ahead of you… lets choose to see this as an exciting time of transition, a second chance, a joyous new beginning.

You may be surprised to learn that when researchers asked people over 65 to pick an age they would most like to return to, most chose their 40’s. While stress reaches a high point in middle age, so does our confidence in our abilities. So let’s make the most of this time and make these years some of our happiest and most rewarding.

Here are some things to think about if you are heading towards a mid career crisis.

  1. If you could wave a magic wand and create the next phase of your career just the way you want, what would you include? Think about what motivates and energises you.
  1. What do you value most (eg: time with your family, personal growth, health and wellbeing, being seen as a leader in your field etc) Consider how your career and life choices reflect your values and if there is a mismatch how you can address that.
  1. What are the parts of your current role that you enjoy? Are there ways that you can incorporate more of this into your everyday?
  1. What have you dreamed of doing … but never had the courage to give a go to? Ask yourself; if not now, when?
  1. Imagine exploring and creating a lifestyle that meets your needs then thinking about how work fits around this.
  1. What stories are you telling yourself that are standing between you and the next phase of your career?
  1. How would you feel if nothing was to have changed… one year from now?

So if you recognise that perhaps you are heading towards a “mid career crisis” then the first place to start, is to look upon this time in a positive light. See this time as a golden opportunity to reassess where you have come from, where you are now and where you could go next.

Is time to invest some time into you and take some time out to create the next phase of your career?

NEXT STEPS?

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