midlife awakening: creating a new vision for your career(part 1 of 12)
A midlife career crisis can be turned into an awakening where you create the career you want, spend time where it matters, and make an impact that is most important to you. Make the rest of your career fantastic – starting now!
Blergh. I hate the term “crisis.” But starting with the basics is best, I suppose. A midlife crisis can occur in middle-aged individuals, typically 40 to 60 years old. I don’t have anyone definition I like best; rather, I find the typical symptoms more helpful. So, if you think you’re going through a midlife crisis, you might experience some of the following on this non-exhaustive list. (They differ for every woman):
- Feeling unfulfilled, bored, empty, lacking meaning, stuck
- Intense feelings of nostalgia and constant reminiscing
- Impulsive, often rash actions
- Changes in behavior and appearance to managing society’s pressure and mask the signs of aging
- Prolonged feelings of uneasiness and questioning, worry, self-doubt, anxiety
- Changes in hormones that interfere with sleep, moods, energy, memory, weight management
- Questioning beliefs and choices due to trauma or loss of some sort by middle age
Midlife career crisis
.Just like a midlife crisis, a midlife career crisis is defined by many of these same things, but most specifically feeling stuck in your career. Not long ago, midlife career crises were generalized to be more of a man thing, but we boss ladies have big careers and are often the breadwinners. Lucky us: we can experience the midlife career crisis too. Yay for us! Sigh. So, what does it look like to have a midlife career crisis anyway? Well, it could be zoning out during meetings because you’ve just realized that half your career is over, and you don’t have a clue why you’re still doing a job you find little to no joy from. It could be feeling stuck in a company that has gone toxic and is completely misaligned with the crap you’re willing to put up with at this point in your life. It could be having accumulated so much skill almost two decades into your career but nothing to show for it in terms of compensation, title, or responsibilities. It could feel like being trapped because you think it’s too hard to make a change.
It’s never too late to be what you might have been
Researchers have studied this stuff, and happiness indeed reaches a low point in midlife. Then, of course, we all change to some degree. I like how Nora Ephron puts it. “You are not going to be you – fixed, immutable you – forever.” The good news is that the dip in our happiness does rebound and shoots up again as we keep getting older. So, what does this mean for your life and career specifically? I hate the term “crisis.” Oh right, I said that already, but it’s worth restating. It leaves me with a feeling of darkness, major strife, loss, and desperation. But I’m a huge believer in the impact one’s mindset can have, so instead, I use the phrase midlife awakening. It brings a sense of light, possibility, awareness, and control. If there is a rebound of happiness, shouldn’t we take the chance that what may come next as we move through midlife could be absolutely freaking fantastic? So, just like its evil twin, the crisis, if you think you’re going through a midlife awakening, you might experience some of the following items on this non-exhaustive list that differs for every woman:
- Increased confidence after 40; insecurities wane as we get more comfortable in our own skin
- More freedom – we know who we are, what we like and don’t like
- Deeper, more meaningful relationships; less time on superficial friendships and perhaps ending toxic relationships
- Doing more for others because it feels good, wanting to leave a good mark on the world or on your kids
The increased confidence you gain in yourself and what you want can help you take on whatever comes your way, prompting you to take a risk or make a switch with more ease. If it’s a whole new career, you still have many years, if not decades, ahead to master it before retirement.
A good career change can make a big impact on quality time with your family and give you the focus you want on your health and relationships that truly matter and fulfill you.
And as for that positive mark you want to leave? Do it and fulfill that passion. Set new goals or explore past dreams. Midlife might be the best time to make a career change.