Episode #75: How to Overcome a Midlife Career Crisis

Welcome to the Confident Careerist podcast. I’m your host Teena Evert, and I’m so glad you’re tuning in to today’s episode.

If you don’t know me, I am the host of this podcast and the CEO and Founder of Claim the Lead. We serve purpose-driven professionals who want to create meaningful work.

I’m a certified coach and provide career coaching and counseling services to professionals who want to transform their careers into meaningful, satisfying, and prosperous work.

Before I dive into today’s topic, I want you to download my Get Clear About Your Career – Clarity Guide It will help you get a clear answer to one of the most pressing questions on midcareer professionals’ minds today – is it time for a career or a job change?

Are You Experiencing a Midlife Career Crisis?

In today’s episode, I’m going to talk about overcoming a midlife career crisis, which is what it can feel like when you are at a crossroads in your career, and you don’t know which way to turn.

I chose this topic because I’m in conversation with people struggling to feel satisfied in their careers and questioning if it’s time for a career or job change. 

When you are in the mid-stages of a career, it can be terrifying to consider a change and if you have been questioning your career path for some time and have made a significant long-term investment of time, energy, and education into one field. 

If you aren’t happy, a need to change can feel urgent. It can consume your thoughts and drive you towards figuring out what your next best step should be. An effort that minimizes risk but launches you forward in the right direction. 

Let’s take a look at some common signs to help you confirm that a change is a wise decision in the first place. I hope that by recognizing these signs, you can become less reactive and avoid a crisis or, if you are in one to have the information necessary to respond in the best way possible. I’d rather see you claim the lead and take control of your situation so that you can respond to change feeling empowered rather than make decisions out of fear.

There’s a saying in the careers industry that you’ll know it’s time to make a job or career change when you start asking yourself if it’s time to make a change. While there is truth to that, there’s more to making your decision.

Let’s begin by assessing some of the reasons why you may want to make a change. Change can be difficult, it can disrupt your life, and it will undoubtedly put you outside of your comfort zone. Therefore, we want to make sure that the reason you are considering a switch isn’t something temporary that will resolve itself given enough time. 

Some of the reasons you may be considering a job or career change are internal reasons, while others are external. Let’s first take a look at some internal reasons:

  • How do you feel about going to work? Do you dread getting up and going to work on Monday? Does that dread spread its way into your weekend? Do you start to feel anxious or depressed on Sunday afternoon as you anticipate the upcoming workweek? Do you find yourself complaining about your job to others? 
  • Or you feel physically or emotionally threatened at work. If you’re in danger physically or psychologically at work, you should start developing your exit strategy today!
  • Are your skills obsolete? Is there a gap in the skills you need to be successful in doing your work?
  • Are you overwhelmed by your job? Find yourself always worried at work because you can’t handle the role’s responsibilities, or you didn’t get enough training to help you master critical tasks. That can make it very difficult to enjoy your work. Overwhelm can lead to burnout.
  • Are you bored at work? Maybe you’ve been in your position for several years, and you’re not excited anymore about the work you’re doing. If you’re not growing in your job, it’s easy to start thinking about doing something else. 
  • Or perhaps there is little to no room for advancement in your current job. Maybe you’ve worked your way up to the top spot you can get in the company. This is especially true in smaller companies, where a limited number of management positions are available. 
  • How do you feel about your boss and your co-workers? Do you like the people that you work with? Are you appreciated for the work you do? 
  • How about the company politics? Are they affecting your work? 
  • Does your job require you to do something that you no longer enjoy doing? 
  • Does your company pay less than the industry average? Did you recently ask for a raise and were turned down? Are you feeling motivated to seek out better compensation elsewhere? 
  • Is there little to no opportunity for increasing your salary significantly in your current position? 
  • You realize that you’re not getting any younger, and the thought of working for this company for another year or five years makes you feel your mortality. If so, it might be time to make a change to a different path. 
  • Perhaps what you are doing is not your passion. Is there an opportunity for you to turn something you’re doing as a hobby into a full-time job? Or could you start a business of your own – either doing something related to your current work or an existing hobby or interest? 
  • Maybe you don’t see yourself staying at this job or in this career for the long-term. If your goals don’t align with what you’re doing now, it is probably time for a change. 

A few other signs (that a career crisis is brewing and a change is on the horizon) are related to external factors that you have no control over. 

  • If another company bought the company you work for – It can impact your job and overall job security and satisfaction. 
  • Or perhaps there’s a change in leadership, and it doesn’t feel right to you. It’s causing you to think about making a change. 
  • When asked to do the same job for less money, many people are prompting you to look for a new job. 
  • Has your workload been reduced along with your opportunity to earn more? 
  • Do you feel like you’re in a dead-end job because there is no room for advancement, and you’re unwilling to retire in this role?
  • Are you in a dying industry or one that is going through significant changes? 

Overall both internal and external factors may be prompting you to consider a career or job change. It’s crucial to assess further if these factors are temporary or something you would be permanently affected by. 

Also, discern if these factors are minor inconveniences or genuinely unbearable. I want to strongly encourage you to claim the lead in your career by managing how you feel and what you need to be satisfied and fulfilled long-term. 

Suppose you’d like to explore your specific situation further. In that case, I am here to help you navigate these challenging situations and hopefully before it feels like a mid-career crisis. If it does, get the professional support you need to learn how to respond to change in an empowered way rather than react and get yourself into a situation where you feel permanently stuck. 

Be sure to download my Get Clear About Your Career – Clarity Guide that will further help you get a clear answer as to whether or not it’s time for a career or a job change.

Think about how you feel about the actual work you’re doing. Do you still have a passion for the type of work you’re doing, but maybe no in this particular work environment? If that’s the case, changing jobs could improve your situation. 

Here are some things to consider. Even if you’ve identified that there are internal or external reasons that you may want to consider making a change, ask yourself this: “Is there an opportunity to improve my current situation?”  

As I previously mentioned, some of these things may be temporary, and the issue may resolve itself. But the other piece of the puzzle is you. Is there some way that you could make a change that would improve your situation? 

Could you transfer to a similar position in a different part of the company? Could you talk to your supervisor and see if there are opportunities for additional responsibility or advancement that you may or may not be aware of? 

Could improving your skills help you? 

If you feel you can’t improve your current situation, the next thing to do is develop a plan. Ensure you have a plan for what you want to do next BEFORE you decide to make a change. Think before you act-don’t be impulsive by reacting to what feels like a midlife career crisis. 

Not everyone likes change. Change can be difficult, and the more significant the change, the more difficult it may be. Also, you want to make sure you’re running towards something you want to do and not running away from something you don’t. 

Being impulsive may lead you to do something you may later regret – like one of those viral “I Quit” videos that are fun to watch but may lead to long-term ramifications when prospective employers Google your name. 

Take the time to assess your marketability at another company or for another career path. What skills, education, and experience do you have to offer? Inventory your accomplishments. 

Consider the timing of making a change if you decide that’s what you want to do. For example, you may not want to leave your job in November if you’d earned an annual bonus if you stayed another month. 

The same is true for things like vested options in a stock plan or retirement account – make sure you manage your departure’s timing to maximize your benefits. Don’t leave money on the table if you can help it. 

Considering the timing of your departure, do you need to do some things before you change jobs or careers? Perhaps you need to take some classes or earn a certification before preparing to make a job or career change. 

I can help you create a personalized professional development plan for yourself that outlines the steps you need to take to bridge the gap between where you are now and what you need in your new job or career to ensure the transition is a success. 

One more reminder before I sign off for today – download my Get Clear About Your Career – Clarity Guide that will further help you get a clear answer whether or not it’s time for a career or a job change.

Until next time – Be Confident!