The Mid-Career Crisis is real and is commonly experienced by professionals at some stage of their career. This leads to people not being as effective as they were earlier, feeling stressed, directionless, and sometimes even losing their jobs. In this blog, I would like to share my experience of dealing with this myself and of my clients who were going through a Mid-Career Crisis.
Now, it is time to bring your mojo back. So, set goals for yourself based on the above activity and strive to meet them. These goals could be very specific to the above activity or can be from your day-to-day job like finishing an analysis or closing tasks much before they are expected etc. Small wins have enormous power as they are fuel to transformative changes. When we manage to change small things in our life, we feel a growing sense of satisfaction and control.
Mid-career crises could get triggered by both internal as well as external factors.
- Internal factors could be things like – deep desire to experience freedom of choice with regards to work, wanting to work at a time of choice, fulfilling other dreams like travelling, spending time with family, contributing to the society, etc. On the other hand, it may get triggered by high expectations/big ambitions which could come from global exposure/environment, taken in by the start-up culture where people can move on to big things much earlier in life, etc.
- External Factors could be triggers like change in business environment leading to reduced importance of certain jobs, obsolete skills leading to redundancy, etc.
When someone is in this mental state, he/she goes through a transition.
Transitions are never comfortable and hence this mental state is also not a very comfortable place to be. However, if this transition is managed well, it can give beautiful results to the individual.
Before we even think of managing a mid-career crisis, we must first identify and acknowledge that we are going through it. Watch out for some of these signs to identify and create awareness if you or your family member or your friend or your colleague have hit a mid-career crisis.
1. When you feel, where has the passion gone?
If you have been doing the same role for a long time, it would have thrilled and energised you when you started but years of doing the same thing would have taken its toll and left you wondering – Where has that passion gone? You drag yourself to work every day only because you need a stable job.
2. When it becomes boring and predictable
When you know what to expect each day at work and it gets more and more “predictable”, your excitement and motivation levels could drop steeply. At the end of the year, you can pretty much predict what feedback your boss will give, you can guess what your rating will be and what your bonus you are likely to get. But there is no excitement at all.
3. When you get that sinking feeling
You feel no excitement in your job and almost sleepwalk through it every day. While it happens because you are no longer excited to do what you are doing, this might lead to a drop in your performance and effectiveness at the workplace. You may be passed over for promotions and you feel that your boss simply does not value your contribution anymore. You feel that you are not growing, there is no scope for you to make any impact and get noticed.
You could also feel that your peers and/or subordinates are becoming smarter than you. They seem to get the hang of things much faster than you, are technologically savvier, they have all the solutions, and you are increasingly dependent on them.
Disillusioned with the job, you could be contemplating a change in job or even a career. The only thing that could be holding you back are the few perceived risks associated with a career switch. You feel you are stuck!
4. When there nothing new to learn
Your learning has stopped, you have not learnt anything new in a while. You just continue to apply what you have learnt in the past – you wonder about your future.
5. When you start attracting lot of negative discussions
You notice that the common topic of discussion is complaints with colleagues or with a friend at work. The negative talks about the workplace leave a lasting impact. You whine about everything, your job, the organisation and indulge in needless gossip about your bosses and co-workers etc. You are sinking into this quicksand of negativity and that is catastrophic! “Brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones” – quote by Rick Hanson.
6. When you start neglecting your wellbeing
The constant feeling of irritation and frustration leads to high stress and anxiety. To get over this person tends to indulge into unhealthy habits. Ignoring physical activities, nutrition, and wellbeing because of constant worry is a sign of mid-career crisis and it impacts the mind and its ability to handle the situation.
Based on my experience I can tell you that mid-career crisis is not a very unusual phenomenon, it can happen to almost anyone, at any stage of career. The reason for it to occur could be different for different people and hence the solution is specific to every person. The good news is that it can be managed – provided you acknowledge it and want to deal with it.
Here are some common strategies on “How to Navigate Yourself out of Mid-Career Crisis?” I would invite you to experiment with these strategies and see what works in your situation.
1. Reboot your mind.
Every change begins with self and to change the state of mind one must start by accepting the situation. Consider taking some time off from this chaos, to clear your mind. Do things that have no connection whatsoever with your day-to-day work, do things that give you joy and take you to a healthy state of being. It is said that the mind is at its most creative when it is free from fear, failure, and uncertainty.
This break will reboot your mind and will help you to get to a different state of mind. Now you are ready to deeply immerse in the problem, sit down and reflect on what could have caused this crisis for you? Is it situational or is there some deeper underlying reason that has led to this situation? Identifying the factors causing the slump is a prerequisite to addressing the problem.
2. Evaluate, Reevaluate, and reset!
Think about the constraints that stand between you and what you seek. Here is an activity that has helped me several times and has helped my clients as well.
- Draw a big cube in the center of the page. Keep it empty for the time being.
- Now start drawing small cubes around it and write one reason for your mid career crisis in each box.
- Now take a hard look at each of the reasons that you have written in these small cubes and ask if it is really true or an assumption. Strike the ones off, which now appear as your assumptions. By doing this you will be left with the actual problem statements for which you need to find a solution. Once the cloud has lifted from your mind, chances are that you will realise that things are not as bad as they initially seemed.
- The small cubes with your reasons are your problem statements and the big box in the centre is your solution box. For each solution, identify a behaviour that you will display.
Writing is a very powerful way of solving problems as it provides structure and allows you to look at your problem(s) from a distance.
3. The science of small wins
Now, it is time to bring your mojo back. So, set goals for yourself based on the above activity and strive to meet them. These goals could be very specific to above activity or can be from your day-to-day job like finishing an analysis or closing tasks much before they are expected etc. Small wins have enormous power as they are fuel to transformative changes. When we manage to change small things in our life, we feel a growing sense of satisfaction and control.
If you can, start maintaining a log of small wins – I completed the task on time, I got an appreciation note from your boss etc. Imagine each small win as a brick that will help you create a big wall of fame for yourself. Small wins have the power to create a new self-image.
4. Plan to deal with social inhibitions.
We go through a low phase in our career, on one hand we are ashamed of ourselves and on other hand we worry about what others might be saying or thinking about us. A shame researcher Brene Brown says “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity.” Identify one person who can be your cheerleader while you are trying to find a way out of your crisis. Be open to speak about your challenges and seek help. These two things will help you regain your confidence and encourage you to move on to bigger goals.
5. Do something new or different to create a white space in your daily routine?
The monotony of doing the same things repeatedly can drive you to despair or boredom. So, find your own solution to break the boredom. It could be anything from joining a hobby class, doing outdoor activity, spending time with children, doing some volunteering work, or anything else. This will create room to get recharged for the next day, next week or next big goal.
6. Side hustle
If your solution is to find another job or to start a new career or business, then start it as your side hustle. It is like planting a seed and allowing it to grow big enough so that it can sustain your dream.
7. Find a professional coach.
It is always good to work with a neutral person, a coach, as they are trained to facilitate the thinking process, and are very good sounding boards.Go ahead, accept / acknowledge that you have MCC, choose the right strategies and resolve to go through the grid. All the very best!! Leave a comment below and let me know what you think?