Reacting to a career in crisis

In my professional practice, I have noticed an interesting trend emerging over the last year or so.

In my professional practice, I have noticed an interesting trend emerging over the last year or so.

I am getting more requests for career coaching from employed, professional people who appear to be quite successful but express deep discontent with their work lives.

After 20 to 25 years of employment they are experiencing what I call a “mid-career crisis” which often manifests as a lack of satisfaction or meaning in their work, regardless of the financial rewards.

By the time people come to me, they are seriously ready to make a change.

That suggests that they have likely been disengaged for quite a while, which isn’t good for them or for their employer.

If you find yourself saying, “I need to change my job.” I would ask: “What do you need to change about it?”

The intention is not to be flippant, of course, but rather to pinpoint what is driving your need to take action at this particular point in time.

In trying to make sense of the choices that have created a seemingly successful career, it is common to start by challenging how success has been defined.

Traditionally it has meant an important job title, a hefty salary or even the cliché of getting a corner office (or at least one with a window and a view).

There is also the perception that career success means advancing to more senior management positions. Not everyone is cut out to be the “boss” or the “boss’s boss” and there aren’t enough of those positions to go around anyway.

It is encouraging to see people resisting those conventional measures of career success and instead re-directing their efforts towards finding work they enjoy.

That can mean a simpler job that is interesting and challenging, one with enough income to support a reasonable standard of living, and something that feels worthwhile.

We spend so much of our lives at work that we all deserve the best fit possible.

Finding that fit requires thoughtful planning and diligent effort.

Be forewarned; the process of re-envisioning your career can be unsettling, even downright scary.

It can also be liberating by leading you closer to your natural talents and a workplace that truly values those.

Don’t wait until you are at a breaking point to check on how well your work life is serving your personal values and goals.

Recharging a stale or stalled career can refresh your whole outlook on life.

Laurie Mills is a certified coach and human resource professional. Her company is Lighthouse Professional Development Consulting Services. The subject matter in this column is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as professional advice.


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