Are you feeling stuck or unfulfilled? Do you feel a desire for change? If the answer is yes to at least one question, you might be experiencing a mid-career crisis. This phase tends to occur in the middle stages of one’s career and is characterized by a sense of introspection and questioning. It is also quite a common phenomenon; according to the Hinge Marketing report, less than half of mid-career employees are satisfied with their jobs. Instead of letting this crisis impact your personal and professional life, why not use it as an opportunity for change? Here is how you might be able to do so in a few steps.
On this page
- 1. Identify the causes of your mid-career crisis
- 2. Set goals and make a plan
- 3. Get financially prepared
- 4. Acquire new knowledge and skills
- 5. Establish a professional network that is relevant to your field
- 6. Brand yourself
- Bottom line: Always keep an eye on the gap between where you are and where you want to be
1. Identify the causes of your mid-career crisis
Before you take any action, take a break and ask yourself what is wrong in my life? It might be that you are not satisfied at your job, with potential causes including poor company culture, boring day-to-day responsibilities, or a poor relationship with colleagues or the management.
Sometimes, the problem is not even related to your job but it is affecting how you function in general. For example, health problems or poor interpersonal relationships can harm your motivation and, consequently, how much you enjoy your work.
If you determine that the problem is related to your job, the next step is to find out whether your current career aligns with your goals. If you sense you are on the right path, it might just be that you are tired of doing the same tasks over and over again but still happy with the overall direction of your career. If you feel that your professional development is stuck, it might be the time to consider a radical change.
2. Set goals and make a plan
Once you have established that your problem is of a professional nature, you may want to start making plans for turning this crisis into an opportunity for change. Start by setting achievable goals, and considering your needs and possibilities. Then, create a roadmap for change, that is, a step-by-step plan to achieve your goals.
For instance, let’s say you have decided that you want to pursue a new career. If career change is your goal, your plan should include a set of actions that should allow you to achieve it. For example, you might decide to join an educational program or start a business.
One straightforward way of planning for a change is to use the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) method. In other words, your plan should include a list of specific goals that can be measured, can be achieved given your available resources, are relevant to your overall objective, and can be completed within a certain time frame.
3. Get financially prepared
As you already know, there is no guarantee your career change plan will succeed, regardless of how much time you spend on it. As such, it is usually best not to quit your job without a backup plan.
Assuming you cannot afford to lose a job without securing a new one, proper financial planning can make the difference between a positive change in your life and a disaster. To mitigate risks, carefully consider how a career change might impact your income in both the short and long term and plan accordingly.
Ideally, you should have a financial safety net. If you have a good idea of how much time you will need to transition from one career to another, you should know how substantial your safety net should be.
4. Acquire new knowledge and skills
In many cases, making drastic changes to your career requires updating your knowledge and skills. For example, if you want to pursue a new job, find out if you meet all the educational and skill requirements of the job in question. In case you don’t, consider enrolling in a course or participating in activities where you can acquire new skills.
If you are not ready to quit your job, you may have difficulties finding the time for knowledge and skill acquisition. Fortunately, the large number of online courses, including part-time study options, makes things easier than ever. That being said, filling your free time with demanding activities can make your situation worse, for which careful planning is needed.
5. Establish a professional network that is relevant to your field
A strong network can be of significant help during the transition from one career to another. For example, knowing the right people can help you find a job faster or start running a business in just a few months.
You can use professional social platforms such as LinkedIn to connect with people in the industry that interest you or even to apply for jobs. You can then use search websites to find useful information about your new contacts. For example, on Leadar, you can search for potential clients or business contacts by a variety of criteria, such as name, location, job title, company, etc.
6. Brand yourself
Employers who do not know you will judge you by educational attainment and experience. While these metrics are certainly important, you are not the only one who has the knowledge and skills required for a specific job.
To make yourself noticeable online and offline, think of your professional portfolio as your branding material. If you are using LinkedIn, make sure to reflect your career aspirations, use keywords relevant to your desired industry for visibility, and showcase your portfolio. In addition, do your best to gather recommendations, which can come in the form of written letters and LinkedIn endorsements.
Bottom line: Always keep an eye on the gap between where you are and where you want to be
Mid-career crisis often stems from the existence of a gap between your expectations and reality. While you may not always be able to achieve what you want, you should not stop aspiring to changes that are likely to improve your life satisfaction.
Whether you want to change your job or your entire career, planning ahead is key to effective management. The more control you have over your situation, the more likely you may be to turn challenges into opportunities.