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Feeling Professionally Stuck? Here’s How To Cope With A Mid-Life Career Crisis

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Jul. 4 2024, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

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About two years ago, anyone looking at my career would have said I had made it. I was in an administrative position, complete with my own office and parking spot. I was well-respected, the salary was great, and the work was challenging but stimulating. On paper, it was perfect.

The reality was a little different. I was waking up every morning dreading going to work. I felt frustrated and exhausted on an almost daily basis. The Sunday Scaries ruined each weekend. I had “What’s the point of all this?” running on an infinite loop in my mind. In a nutshell, I had lost my spark and was facing a career crisis.

As much as it felt like my situation was unique, mid-life career crises are common. Job satisfaction is “U-shaped” and hits bottom in our late 30s to mid-40s. It turns out I was right on schedule with questioning my career path. Two years later, I’m reinvigorated and filled with a renewed sense of purpose. Here is what I did to help me navigate my career crisis:

1. I explored my feelings.

There are plenty of reasons why you might be feeling unfulfilled at work or like you’re in a career rut. You shouldn’t jump to conclusions but take the time to reflect on how you’re feeling and what’s behind it.

I spent several months sorting through my feelings and examining my career and life. I thought about:

  • My work-life balance.
  • What was important to me.
  • Whether my life and career aligned with my priorities.
  • Whether something was missing.
  • What was causing these feelings.

By being honest with myself, I realized that my priorities had shifted (thank you pandemic), highlighting a need to rebalance and realign.

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2. I took time for myself.

One of my realizations was that I had stopped doing things that relaxed me and made me happy. I was focusing all my time and energy on my job. And even though I had always loved my work, I had become resentful because of how much time it took.

An unhealthy work-life balance increases stress levels, which affects our focus, mood, physical health, and feelings. I had let myself fall out of balance and was feeling the consequences. So I started setting an hour aside each day to do something for myself. I went for walks in the park. Massages became a weekly ritual. I started reading for pleasure again. Chats over coffee or wine with friends became more frequent.

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3. I went back to school.

A second realization was that some aspects of my job were frustrating because I didn’t know enough about the topic. The learning curve was too steep for me to manage it well. So I found a one-year program that would speed up the process.

Adding to your professional skillset is always a good idea but it can be especially beneficial when you’re facing a mid-life career crisis. It can reinvigorate you and breathe new life into day-to-day work. I decided on a university program but there are plenty of other options. You can sign up for workshops, conferences, and online courses. If you prefer to learn in a more relaxed way, you can read books on skills that interest you and implement the tips and strategies.

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4. I made a career change.

Everything I tried did help but only for a while. I continued to go back to feeling unmotivated like I had lost my passion. I’ve always been a big believer in loving what you do and that wasn’t the case anymore. So I made the VERY difficult decision to leave a 15-year career. Within six months, I was happier than I had been in years.

While this is one of the best professional decisions I ever made, it’s not to be taken lightly. It requires a lot of thought and planning. You need to understand the living reality of what it means and whether it’s the best option. I spent hours thinking about my skillset and researching career paths that excited me and would be a good fit. I also had to mentally prepare myself for the learning curve starting over in a new field would bring. It was a challenging transition but well worth it.

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Marta Kargol
By: Marta Kargol

Marta Kargol is a former educator turned freelance copywriter who brings a unique blend of storytelling and clarity to her writing. She believes effective communication shapes ideas and focuses her efforts on finding creative ways to simplify complex topics. Marta uses her writing skills to help small businesses and solopreneurs share their purpose with authenticity. She is passionate about education, self-improvement, work-life balance, and wellness, all aspects of a holistic approach to success in life. When she isn’t writing, Marta enjoys traveling the world to experience new cultures. Learn more at www.mkcopywriting.com or reach out directly at marta@mkcopywriting.com.

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