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Navigating A MidCareer Crisis

Authored by Pam Hawley in Careers and Employment 
Published on 06-15-2009

You live for the weekends and dread Mondays. At work, you feel lethargic, unmotivated, and maybe even trapped. You find yourself looking back on your career decisions with regret and maybe experiencing depression.

If the above describes you, then you may be in the midst of a mid-career crisis. Unlike a “mid-life crisis,” a mid-career crisis isn’t associated so much with your age as with where you are in your career. A mid-career crisis is finding yourself unhappy in a path you have followed for some time. Those experiencing a mid-career crisis struggle with regrets about earlier choices and feel limited in their options at this stage in their lives.

There are many different reasons people experience a mid-career crisis. You may have grown all you can in your job, and are now bored by your daily routine. Perhaps you have followed a career path that doesn’t completely mesh with your goals and interests, and wish you could spend your time doing something more meaningful. You may even just feel that your chosen career will not allow you to meet your financial goals.

A mid-career crisis can leave you feeling lost and trapped. However, you can turn things around. Consider your mid-career crisis a wake-up call, and take action. Action does not have to mean something as drastic as a complete career change, although that may be an option.

Make lists of things you like and dislike about your job. Think about your earlier dream jobs as well as careers that intrigue you today. What are the common themes in those roles that are lacking in your current career? Also think about and list your perceived strengths and weaknesses. After collecting your thoughts, visit a career counselor. Talk further about your feelings and work with your counselor on identifying your goals and developing an action plan for attaining them.

Evaluate your financial situation. Understand just how much change you can make without putting your family at financial risk. Set realistic timelines for your goals based on that evaluation. You may not be able to ditch your current career and become a novelist overnight, but maybe you can add more creative tasks to your job and carve out time in your after-work hours for writing.

If you have a good relationship with your boss, talk to him or her about making changes in your current role. Are there tasks you might take on that would help you find your job more fulfilling? Together, you and your boss may be able to build an action plan that helps both you and your organization.

Consider returning to school. If pursuing a completely new degree or training program feels overwhelming, take a course or two in an area of interest. Also spend more time pursuing hobbies and interests outside of work rather than falling into a rut at home. Classes and activities can bring more balance to your life, reawaken your energy, and in some cases even help you move into a new career!

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