Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Are You Going Through a Mid-Career Crisis?

By Glassdoor - Oct 15, 2019 at 9:00AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Not all mid-career crises have the same solution.

Research suggests that there is a strong interdependency between personal and work lives. When a mid-career crisis occurs, it certainly impacts your personal life, and resolving that career crisis will often cure what otherwise ails you.

A woman with her head in her hands and elbows on her desk

Image source: Getty Images.

Identifying a mid-career crisis

Just like a mid-life crisis, a mid-career crisis is defined by a sensation of feeling stuck. People going through a rougher patch in their professional development will commonly perceive a lack of growth and opportunities in their current work environment.

The gravity of this issue is underlined by a widely accepted idea that a person's age is generally associated with a continuously growing motivation to extract emotional meaning from life, of which your career is a significant part.

Very often, the most straightforward and minute tasks will feel abnormally exhausting and will result in an unusually sizable cognitive effort, which will result in burnout.

If all of this sounds "oh, so familiar," chances are you're going through a mid-career crisis.

Symptoms of a mid-career crisis

Here are a few of the most common signs that typically signal the onset of mid-career malaise:

  • You're an objectively successful professional, yet you're not satisfied
  • You often downplay your skills, knowledge, and competence
  • You're apathetic toward your work and often disinterested in achieving greater results
  • You're not enthusiastic about going to work
  • You're impatient, defensive, and disgruntled

It is, however, important to mention that not all mid-career crises are the same. It is your responsibility to assess whether what you're facing at this point is just temporary disappointment with the job you're doing, a sort of dysphoria that the vast majority of people will eventually go through. Or are you actually in the wrong field?

Addressing the issue

One of the central reasons why people fall prey to mid-career malaise is a form of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), a widely known cognitive bias.

"We often focus on things that could have been or could have happened, yet we forget that these ideas are just mere abstractions. Continuously ruminating about decisions you could have made to allegedly improve your career, without solid proof of their outcome, is a losing game. Unfortunately, you simply can't win," says Patricia Paz, HR manager at Top Writers Review.

Rather than contemplating the things that could have gone better in your professional life, a less damaging approach would be to focus on the ways your career is actually good. More importantly, one should opt for a more active reinforcement of their qualifications by continuously applying their knowledge in ambitious projects. Here are a few ideas you can explore:

  • Research potential projects that could optimize your company's performance and lobby for one or more of them
  • Request additional professional development/training to qualify for higher-level opportunities within your current organization
  • Consider a full career change to something for which you have a passion. Go back to school and get the education/training you need to make such a change
  • Take time off or go part-time while you explore other options
  • Freelance on the side in other career areas to determine your interest and skill level

An aspect that is vital to overcoming a mid-career crisis is acceptance. While all of the suggestions above are designed to improve your professional self-esteem, they aren't necessarily a definitive solution -- they're there merely to address the symptoms. The key is to accept that there is never a guarantee that all our mistakes can be affirmed or any type of regret is out of place.

We are but human, fighting the continuous battle of figuring the world out.

Conclusion

You are not alone in your crisis. But as an individual, you have to determine which resolution will best serve you. In fact, it may be a combination of options. It's time to explore and experiment a bit -- you may find that you have far more to offer than you thought.

This article originally appeared on Glassdoor.com

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
397%
 
S&P 500 Returns
128%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 08/19/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.