There can be the collision of a lot of things going on in our lives mid-career. Interesting to read the studies of a bottoming out of satisfaction at the midpoint from 20 years and 65 years of age – at around 45 years of age. The good news being that our satisfaction recovers. The bad news is that mid-career, there feels like a narrowing of options, perhaps giving us a realization of missing out, ‘so this is it moment’ creating a sense of loss that can be very deflating. Perhaps like an extended uphill section of a marathon.
The curve is gentle but significant: The average contentment gap between age 20 and about 45 is comparable to the drop in life satisfaction associated with being fired or getting a divorce. Kieran Setiya, makes us wonder, what if you get the trifecta?
Questions can appear like, what am I doing this for? How do I work to my talents and to be purposeful? What happens if I fail? I wish I could do something that I really enjoy, but what is it?
Feeling overlooked or forgotten can be the nail in the coffin for someone who feels he’s given his best efforts to a company and is now grappling with a deep desire to change roles, locations, or missions. Gibbons
Combined with that general dissatisfaction with maybe the way we are regarded, treated, perhaps a general sense that work is not satisfying, that we are not playing to our strengths. Regrets can feature strongly about past decisions and sliding door moments.
Often when in the job market, there is a theory expressed that prime time in our careers is 35-45 years of age. So what happens once we turn 46?
What about mistakes, misfortunes, failures? Every career has its wrong turns, and some have more than others. Setiya
My own journey was working mainly in transformations, working with underperforming B2B teams and helping them excel. Increasingly moving around after a long period of stability spanning much of my thirties, into a period of 6 roles in 6 years. Bono’s words ringing in my ears ‘I still haven’t found what I am looking for’ maybe wrong context but rang true to me in some instances.
As a card-carrying member of the ‘sandwich generation’ there was unprecedented pressure in my life outside of work, with both children and parents needing my attention and care. Despite having had great coaching as an emerging leader in my early thirties, I had failed to follow that through with coaching in my early forties. I suspect that this would have helped me wrestle my demons. Not making the same mistake again, Coaching and Mentoring has been ever present as I navigate my career transition.
Businesses can also take the initiative with long serving and mid-career members through creating variety, asking them to get involved with mentoring others and proactively exploring options and being flexible with how the member can create value.
For individuals, it is a journey best not taken alone, sharing the doldrums and dissatisfaction with loved ones, friends and confidants can make all the difference.
Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash