A mid-career crisis can be a scary time for any worker and can lead to feelings of uncertainty and frustration.
It can be caused by numerous factors and can manifest in various ways.
Don’t fear, however, as there are just as many ways to combat a mid-career crisis and get yourself, and your career, back on track.
The Great Resignation in 2022 explained
“The Great Resignation” is a term that has appeared in recent years due to the record-high number of people quitting their jobs.
Social media is full of stories about workers, particularly younger people, leaving their jobs due to feeling undervalued, underpaid, or overworked. In fact, the hashtag #quittingmyjob has 128M views and counting on TikTok.
But it’s not just TikTok users who fantasize about leaving their jobs in the hope of finding fulfillment elsewhere.
Workers of any age can experience a “mid-career crisis,” causing them to question the decisions they’ve made in their working life and set them to wondering about what a career change could do for them.
What is a mid-career crisis?
A mid-career crisis is similar to a midlife crisis.
It refers specifically to a feeling of unfulfillment and frustration in a person’s career rather than in their life in general. It can be triggered by various stimuli, and the telltale signs of a mid-career crisis are numerous and varied.
It can often cause a person to feel apathetic towards their job, contribute to unproductivity, or even consider changing careers altogether.
Why you should be wary when experiencing a mid-career crisis
A mid-career crisis can be dangerous for employees.
Feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction can cause you to make rash decisions and lead to you leaving a secure job for the wrong reasons. It’s important to step back and assess your situation objectively before making any drastic changes.
Common reasons for a mid-career crisis
A mid-career crisis could develop due to any number of factors. Here are some of the most prominent causes.
FOMO or fear of missing out
It can be tempting to wonder whether you would be having the same experience if you’d only chosen a different career path.
It’s easy to look back on all the decisions that led you to your current job and wonder how different the road less traveled might have been. It’s all too easy to idealize the career you could have had without any proof that it would be any better.
Perhaps that five-year plan for your career hasn’t quite worked out, or you’ve missed out on a promotion you really thought you deserved. Having your career expectations go unmet is a quick path to a mid-career crisis, causing you to reconsider your chosen career path.
It can be disillusioning if your career path suddenly seems blocked. Perhaps you work in a small team, and the only opportunity for progression is the job your boss holds, but they’re not going anywhere. This can easily lead to a mid-career crisis.
Uncertainties about your career can just be the tip of the iceberg, especially if you’re approaching “middle age” and are assessing whether the life you’ve got is the one you always dreamed about when you were younger.
If you feel a void in your professional life, then it can be tempting to start reconsidering your career choices in an attempt to make the second half of your working years more exciting or rewarding than the first.
Change of personal priorities
We all change as we grow older, and, usually, our circumstances change, too. This can easily lead to a mid-career crisis. Perhaps, you had to unexpectedly move cities. Maybe you didn’t originally plan to have children as early as you did.
Changes in personal circumstances can lead to a change in your priorities and can quickly cause you to reassess how your career affects the other areas of your life.
Perhaps your company is unexpectedly downsizing, so the opportunities for progression are lessened. Or your company is expanding, and there is suddenly a lot more competition.
A takeover of your employer by another company could lead to changes in your working environment. These could be positive changes, such as introducing new VOIP phone systems instead of using a local business phone service.
But they could equally have negative impacts, such as introducing new company values with which you aren’t aligned. This could lead to a mid-career crisis.
Common signs of having a mid-career crisis
Much like a midlife crisis, it may be a while before you even realize that you’re in the grips of a mid-career crisis. Here are some of the most common warning signs to watch out for.
You don’t feel happy
You don’t have to love your job. In fact, almost half of respondents in a 2021 survey reported feeling neutral at best towards their job.
However, there’s a big difference between feeling apathetic towards your job and it actively making you unhappy. If you spend the whole weekend dreading going back to work on Monday, you could well be in the midst of a mid-career crisis.
You feel unmotivated
A common sign of a mid-career crisis is a lack of motivation at work. You may find yourself struggling to complete tasks that would have at one time felt quick and easy, or you may be reluctant to put your name forward for projects or other work commitments. This can have knock-on effects for the whole business, such as affecting online reputation.
You are losing confidence
A mid-career crisis may impact your enthusiasm and willingness to work, and it may also affect your belief in yourself. A loss of confidence may be caused by feeling undervalued at work or experiencing less than successful results. This can lead to you feeling as though you lack the skills or knowledge to adequately perform your role.
You are questioning your skills
A mid-career crisis can cause you to question your ability to do your job well, meaning that even tasks that you’ve performed thousands of times before, like scheduling recurring emails, seem beyond your abilities.
Change in attitude
A mid-career crisis may not only affect your work output but also your work relationships. When you’re feeling stuck or unsure about your career, it can be easy to take out your frustrations on your colleagues.
You always feel tired
We all feel tired from time to time. If you’ve been working especially hard on a project or putting in extra hours at the office, it’s reasonable to expect you’ll go home feeling drained. However, if you’re constantly feeling tired for no real reason, it may be a sign that you’re experiencing emotional exhaustion and are in the grips of a mid-career crisis.
Your learnings are stagnant
When we’re experiencing a mid-career crisis, we may not be willing to learn new things. If you’re constantly tired and feeling apathetic towards your job, you’re much less likely to want to learn new skills, such as how to create a digital signature, or absorb new knowledge, like what io domain means.
If you find that it’s taking all your energy and concentration just to complete routine, everyday aspects of your job, it could signal that you’re experiencing a mid-career crisis.
How to cope when experiencing a mid-career crisis
You may suddenly be feeling like you’re experiencing a mid-career crisis yourself, but don’t worry. There are plenty of things you can do to get yourself out of the rut.
Get away from work and take a vacation
It may sound like a temporary solution, but you’d be surprised just how helpful taking some time away from work can be. 28% of young workers said they’d taken an extended trip when at a career crossroads.
Taking a vacation is also a great way to help prevent burnout. Alongside that, putting some distance between yourself and your office will allow you to consider things objectively. You may find that the situation isn’t as dire as you first thought.
It’s important not to make any rash decisions in the heat of the moment. Giving yourself some time to consider all your options will help you make a more informed choice about the future of your career.
Recalibrate your goals
There’s no shame in re-examining your career goals and perhaps changing them to better reflect your current position. Goals you set yourself when you first set out on a career path can often be lofty or idealistic, leaving you frustrated if you fail to meet them.
It’s important to set yourself relevant, achievable goals. For example, if you work in distributed programming, you could set yourself a goal to expand your knowledge by learning how MapReduce by DataBricks works. Taking a step back to assess your targets can help you refocus and will reaffirm your career trajectory in your mind.
Goals can change for a variety of reasons, so it’s important not to be too hard on yourself if there are some targets that you’ve failed to meet, especially if it’s due to circumstances outside your control.
Look for new options or ask for a promotion
There’s no harm in keeping an open mind about your future career. This could involve moving up the ladder at your current place of employment or looking for opportunities elsewhere.
If you feel like you have the skills and knowledge to take on more responsibility with your existing employer, speak to your boss about the opportunities for promotion. Remember that time you saved your team time and money by investigating GoToMeeting alternatives? Remind your boss of that!
Not only will this show those in charge that you have a desire to move up the ladder, but it will also help you manage expectations about what is available to you.
Connect with new people
Connecting with new people outside your usual work connections or social circle will help open your mind to new points of view and, potentially, new opportunities. It can be easy to stagnate and feel complacent when surrounded by what feels comfortable and familiar. Pushing yourself outside your comfort zone will help you to re-examine your situation with fresh eyes and make decisions that are more informed.
Look for a mentor
If you’re looking to connect with new people, finding yourself a mentor is a great place to start. Learning from the experiences of others is a great way to see things from a new perspective. You may find you’re imparted with sage advice from somebody who has been in a similar situation.
Mentoring schemes are used in a third of companies to improve engagement and encourage development.
Not only that, but a mentor can help coach you to reach new heights in your career. They’ll provide you with honest feedback, help you master new skills, and potentially even introduce you to new contacts who can provide new opportunities.
Having a mentor has never been easier, thanks to services such as Dialpad phone for small business that allow you to keep in touch with your mentor, even if they’re on the other side of the globe!
Plan and be ready to make difficult decisions
If you follow all the previous steps and still feel that it’s time to make a career change, that’s fine. Just ensure that you think carefully before making any drastic decisions. Remember that you can’t plan enough when making a change as important as leaving your job.
Ensure that you have considered all aspects of your decision and have a strong financial plan ready to support yourself. Making a career change can be daunting, but if you believe it’s truly the best thing for you, having a clear plan will help make the transition much smoother.
You could consider using a career counseling service to help you assess your options objectively.
Look for a new hobby or do something you are passionate about
You could explore taking up a new pastime. Having something to look forward to outside of work can give you a new lease of life. If there’s something you feel strongly about, you could consider pursuing a passion project on the side.
Conclusion: it’s normal for everyone to experience a mid-career crisis, but what’s important is to know what to do when faced with one.
Experiencing a mid-career crisis is incredibly common, so don’t panic if you feel like you might be in the midst of one. What’s important to remember is how to deal with it when it happens.
Don’t make rash decisions; take a step back and examine things objectively. Get advice from those you trust and respect, and use their guidance to help make a concrete plan.
Setting yourself new goals or learning new skills can help, but if you feel like making a career change is your only choice, don’t be scared to take the leap. Just make sure you’re well prepared first!
Building a Mid-Career GPS will give you a systematic and practical approach to creating a realistic roadmap to help you find that job you’ll love. Sign up for the webinar.