Authored by Olga Butyrina (Career Expert, GCL)

A study titled "How do career satisfaction and life satisfaction associate?" published in the Journal of Managerial Psychology in 2018 found a direct connection between passion for work and the emotional well-being of employees. 

It isn’t uncommon for an employee's passion for their work to burnout over time. Some day, you may find that the usual visit to the office has turned into a challenge, and everyday duties have lost their point and value. Do not be ashamed or afraid of these thoughts. It is crucial to understand how to deal with them to avoid depression and frustration. In this guide, we will give you valuable insights into the midlife work crisis as the main obstacle to career satisfaction and the best advice to overcome it.

What is a midlife career crisis?

The concepts of the mid-career crisis and middle-age crisis are similar. In both cases, a person experiences emotional burnout and dissatisfaction caused by lost opportunities, lack of prospects and goals, and irrevocable time lost. But where the middle-age crisis appears mainly between the ages of 35 and 40 and reaches a peak at 50, the midlife job crisis has no age discrimination and can even affect professionals at 30. Often this crisis has several common symptoms:

1. Lost motivation. Earlier you were motivated by your involvement in a common cause and inspired by each up-close opportunity, but now, not even real achievements give you an emotional uplift.
2. You are not pushing yourself. You do not generate new ideas for projects, prefer to keep silent during brainstorming sessions, and avoid any additional workload.
3. You doubt your value. You do not feel the importance of your contribution to the company, and your skills and qualifications acquired over the years seem mediocre.
4. The working day lasts forever. You look at the clock every few minutes, and it never seems like it is moving. Your goal has become to complete all tasks as quickly as possible just to get out of the workplace that has become your prison.
5. You focus on the past. You go through all the stages of your career in memory, trying to identify the moment when things went wrong. You fixate on decisions that you didn't make and chances that you didn’t take.
6. You feel out of place. It seems that you are just wasting time on your work, and your true vocation is far from you. As a result, you think about a career change to unlock your potential.
7. Fatigue has become your companion. You are exhausted at the end of each workday, regardless of the workload. It is difficult for you to wake up in the morning, even after good quality sleep.

Undoubtedly this is not a complete list of midlife career crisis symptoms. But, if at least a couple of them ring a bell, this is an occasion to reconsider your professional path and conduct introspection. Remember, recognition of a problem is the first step to finding a solution.

How to overcome the midlife career crisis

The midlife work crisis has two adverse results. You can continue to be out of your element and work yourself into complete professional burnout. Or you can start a new career hastily and thoughtlessly, running the risk of repeating the same scenario but in a new place and completely shattering your self-confidence. Our practical action plan will help you avoid both outcomes.

Take a break

A well-timed break can solve half the problems. Take time off to stay with your family, devote time to a hobby, or just read a long-delayed book. If the cause of your crisis lies in excessive stress and overwork, rest will set things straight. If it’s not about fatigue, you will at least gain time for introspection.

Give up regrets

The best solution for overcoming the midlife crisis is the fight against FOMO. The fear of missing out causes you to focus on things that could happen and imagine how they would promote your career. But this is a losing tactic because your theories and guesses are groundless. It is impossible to know how particular decisions and actions would affect your professional path. But you can accept the situation as it is and move on. The future, unlike the past, still provides many opportunities.

Track your progress

Remember your first steps in the industry or your early days at this job. You were a young specialist who adapted to a new environment, delved into new tasks, and learned from your mistakes. Now come back to today and evaluate the mileage. During your time in your profession, you have, at the very least, gained new skills, and at most, you have gained a list of professional achievements and contributed to the development and prosperity of the company. Any small victories are the very meaning you are looking for. Keep them in mind if you ever start to doubt your value. 

Identify the root cause

Many people focus on things or events that have become the last straw. But to solve a problem, you need to understand its root. Consider the following questions:

Have you ever been comfortable with your work?
When did you stop enjoying your role?
What external factors influenced the situation?
What is your perfect scenario?

After these questions, it may turn out that your problem is the result of temporary difficulties. If so, think about how you can turn things around. If not, take a broader view of the situation.

Analyze your current  company 

Sometimes specialists think they need to change careers because they need to revise their work environment. To put things right, ask yourself the following questions:

Do I get decent compensation for my services?
Do I share the values and goals of the company?
Does leadership appreciate my efforts?
Do I have career opportunities?
Do my team and corporate culture suit me?
Does the company offer exciting projects?
Can I develop inside the company?

Most likely, if you answered negatively to most of those questions, you are not happy in the company you have worked in for the past years. This is a weighty argument to start a job search, since the flower cannot grow if the soil is chosen incorrectly.

Dip your toe into a new industry

A change is as good as a rest. If you really wanted to try your hand in another occupation, do not suppress your feelings and desires. But be realistic and do not take radical steps ahead of time. Evaluate your knowledge, qualifications, and skills for a new profession and identify areas for improvement. Test the waters and start with gigs on freelance. For this purpose, update your resume and create a cover letter. 

When writing a resume, consider the transferable skills that will help you succeed in your new role. In your cover letter, focus on the reasons for the career change, your motivation, and your main competitive advantages. If you want to play it safe and create a winning self-presentation easy and fast, Get Cover Letter builder professional website will come in handy. These application documents will help you get a job and remind you of your professional value, which is especially crucial during a mid-career crisis.

Set new goals

When you have reached a certain career level or a certain level of recognition, you may seem to have nothing to strive for. Such thoughts, in turn, cause you to lose the meaning of the current moment and focus on the past. To get rid of them, determine new targets:

Accept new tasks or responsibilities at work, take the initiative in the project, or set a high bar for your productivity and performance. Challenges cause excitement and reboot your motivation.
If your first attempts to find a new job or change your career do not bear fruit, use this situation to your advantage. Ask the recruiter about your mistakes or weaknesses, identify areas for improvement, and begin training and self-development. It will expand your horizons.
Request refresher courses at your job. It will increase your value for the company and help you keep abreast of industry changes. Thus you will open-up new opportunities.
Meet with a career counselor. Contrary to popular opinion, this specialist does not just help students and graduates. Thanks to tests and interviews, they will prompt you for a career trajectory and draw up a phased action plan.

Wrap Up

A midlife career crisis is a rough patch for every specialist. It makes you challenge your abilities, doubt your career choice, and evaluate the professional path through the prefixes "would" and "if." But try to look at it from a different perspective. Perhaps this is a great reason to revise your values. Ask yourself hard questions, and give honest answers. Even if the conclusions do not bring the desired satisfaction, they can still make a difference. Do not give up, and remember you have all the tools to move on.