Mid-career blues can happen to the best of us. A great example of this phenomenon in action is portrayed in the iconic film Educating Rita.
If you are a film junkie, like me, treat yourself to a copy this Christmas. When it was released, it received a clutch of BAFTA awards, so well worth a watch.
The story revolves around Rita played by Julie Walters, a married hairdresser who one day after a particularly banal customer interaction, utters the immortal words: “Is this all there is?”
This stimulates her to go to university and consequently her life up-levels.
The story is, of course, archetypal and revolves around awareness and growth.
A question for you?
Are you or members of your team suffering from mid-career blues? Let’s explore this from the context of you in this piece.
Mid Career Blues: An Output of Natural Events
According to an Office of National Statistics research report, we are most unhappy between the ages of 40-59.
A time for many when our careers are in theory settled, though a tad predictable. However, middle age could be taking a toll because many of us are facing the added pressures of looking after children and ageing parents at the same time, alongside a role at work which isn’t as stimulating as it once was.
Reality sets in and you realise that the opportunities you were staring at twenty years ago are logistically no longer up for grabs anymore.
Though a six-month secondment in Zug might be appealing, your daughter will be in the middle of her exams, and your mum has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. How realistic is it to head off?
I appreciate that for many the question around work relates to the big question we often avoid, “Is this actually what I want to be doing?”.
Time to work out your next move?
Mid Career Blues: Analysis Time
It can be all too easy to have a synaesthesia style of reaction to your career doldrums. This is where standing back and reviewing the situation in a detached way is critical.
For instance, hand on heart, what is the cause? Is it…
- The organisation or department
- Your role or career path
- Your own boredom and stagnation
Once you have identified the root cause, at least you now have some level of awareness and consequently can act. Alternatively, stay as you are – never a good thing to choose this option. Remember human beings are designed for growth.
So, here are some ideas about the steps you can take.
Mid Career Blues: Your Organisation
People can and do move organisations past 40! Though the world is obsessed with Millennial employees, there are plenty of opportunities for highly skilled individuals, no matter what their age, to move around. Simply changing organisations could stop your career crisis.
The only thing I would say is to consider what you are leaving versus where you are going.
Mid Career Blues: Your Role or Career Path
I appreciate this can challenge many of us. If you have been the head chemist in your department for over ten years, what are your options when you have a mortgage to pay and children who gobble up every spare bit of cash you have?
Maybe it’s time to put you first. Perhaps you can have a conversation about adding different elements to your role or the opportunity to work on a project.
Alternatively, even put your ego aside and move to a different department where your energy and enthusiasm can be switched on again.
Mid Career Blues: Your Boredom or Stagnation
Many of our clients at Zestfor are highly skilled individuals often with a scientific or analytical background. The climb to their current position has taken consistent learning and input, and then suddenly their work life becomes easier, more predictable.
At one level this is a positive thing. However, the sizzle has gone and with it your enthusiasm too.
There are obvious answers to alter this situation as we mentioned above. More responsibility or a new project can often do the trick.
For others, it might be time to explore developing meaning in other ‘outside of work’ channels. A good friend of mine joined her Village Committee. I know it might sound twee but it made a huge difference for her.
She was/is in a senior role and appreciates the challenges she must deal with. However, a reality check made her appreciate her salary enabled her family to have two super holidays a year, paid for lots of extracurricular activities and a pretty amazing life.
Joining the Village Committee gave her another focus away from work and helped her contribute to her community too.
Suddenly the spare energy she felt wasn’t being utilised had an outlet and her mid-career blues surprisingly lifted!
Can We Help?
Zestfor specialises in developing Training programmes and resources scientifically tailored for technical markets – including Pharmaceutical, IT, and Life Sciences.
Our blend of in-classroom, online, and virtual live-stream delivery methods will engage and assure even the most introverted team members from the first meeting – whether face-to-face or virtually. To have a brief chat call us on 0845 548 0833. Alternatively, email our team here.
Until next time,