10 Ways To Refocus Your Career During a Midlife Crisis

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 24, 2021 | Published December 12, 2019

Updated February 24, 2021

Published December 12, 2019

Related: Career Paths: 3 Engaging Non-Desk Jobs

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A midlife crisis often prompts personal and professional change. During this time, people may reexamine their careers and professional goals. A midlife crisis may lead to a new job or a shift in an individual’s career path. In this article, we discuss what a midlife crisis is and how to refocus your career during this transition period.

What is a midlife crisis?

A midlife crisis can be characterized by a time in life when many people consider their mortality and evaluate their achievements, goals and dreams. It is normal to feel like you’re in a major transition.

Some signs of a midlife crisis are:

  • Drastic changes in habits, moods and decision-making

  • Feeling listless and bored

  • Contemplating a career change

  • Feeling tied down

  • Gaining or losing weight

  • Withdrawing from usual routines or relationships

Related: Setting Goals To Improve Your Career

10 ways to refocus your career during a midlife crisis

A midlife crisis can be an uncomfortable period of transition in your career. As you try to find your new place within your current career field or change to another career altogether, keep in mind that many people may come out of a midlife (career-related) crisis feeling more accomplished than they did before. Here are a few steps you may take to regain focus to shift or change your career:

1. Realize your worth

When you deal with a midlife crisis, it may be easy to forget how far you have come in your career. For example, you may begin to think about all the things you didn’t do instead of thinking about all the good things you have accomplished. It is likely that you have sufficient knowledge and experience that add to your worth.

You may want to take steps to do things differently in your career, but try recognizing that your unique experience adds value to anything you’d like to do next. A good practice you may want to try is writing down the goals you remember from your past that you have accomplished. It is possible that you have accomplished more than you think and writing it down may help you realize this.

2. Review your situation

Each person will have a different situation and experience during a midlife crisis. Try to review only your situation without comparing it to anyone else’s. The best way to do this is to take a few moments to evaluate yourself and your needs. For instance, you may assess the areas of your career and life you are dissatisfied with. You may think that the problem is your salary, your position or a routine that you may now find undesirable. 

The following questions may help you access your current situation:

  • Am I comparing myself to others?

  • What excites me about my current career? 

  • What about my current career causes me dissatisfaction?

  • Who do I admire?

  • If money wasn’t important, what career/job would I choose?

Related: Choosing a Career Path in 9 Steps

3. Ask for advice

There are likely people who you know that have already experienced this midlife career crisis. You don’t have to go through this transition by yourself. Try reaching out to trusted friends, mentors, co-workers or family members. They may be able to give you a different perspective on your career that could lead you closer to where you’d like to be. 

You may also seek assistance from a life coach or therapist that likely has offered assistance to individuals in your situation many times.

4. Remind yourself of your successes

When you remind yourself of the successes you have achieved in your life, you will be more willing to stay motivated to succeed in the future. You have likely been through many challenges in your life thus far and have developed a strategy to move forward. Although your challenges may have been different throughout the years, you can still gain value by reflecting on specific moments in which you overcame the challenges and succeeded. Once you are aware of how you can succeed, you are more likely to repeat the same behavior to succeed again. 

Continuously remind yourself of the success you have had to build the courage to continue down your career path. 

5. Give yourself a break

Focusing too deeply on an issue is not always an effective way to achieve your desired results. Give yourself a break a couple of times a week to try new hobbies or continue old hobbies you haven’t done in a while. A hobby can be any activity you want it to be. Try to find a way to reconnect to yourself whether it is sports, meditation, crafts, painting, yoga or gardening, to name a few. Allow yourself time to do the small things that make you happy. 

The benefit will be a clear mind that can help you before you begin to make decisions about refocusing your career.

6. List the pros and cons

After you have taken short breaks to give you clarity of mind, you should be ready to evaluate what making a career change would be like and if it is the best option for you. Try writing down the pros and cons of staying in your career field and possibly taking on more responsibilities or changing departments. Then you may write down the pros and cons of changing careers completely. Assess these items as they pertain to your needs and wants.

7. Set specific goals

Refocusing your career during a midlife crisis means revising your goals and future plans. When doing so, set realistic goals with manageable milestones. Using the SMART method to set goals will help your goals become more actionable. 

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based.

Related: SMART Goals: Definition and Examples

8. Look for opportunities with your current employer

When you refocus your career, you may still decide to look for opportunities where you are currently employed. The best way to do this is to talk with your current supervisor and discuss advancement opportunities. Your supervisor may have previously been unaware of your ambitions and when you communicate openly with them about this, they may be able to offer you insight into new projects the company may take on or recommend you for a promotion.

If you find that there aren’t any opportunities that you would like to take advantage of, then you may decide to refocus your ideas and apply elsewhere.

9. Network

If you decide that your current employer can’t offer what you need, then it is time to network with professionals in the field you would like to go into. Check for and attend networking events in your local area. You may meet individuals who can assist you with your new career path. It is also likely that you’ll meet many people who are also trying to refocus their careers. You may try asking a new connection who is in the career field of your interest if you can shadow them for a day or two to make sure this new career is the right one for you.

10. Make a professional exit

Once you have made a decision to refocus your career by leaving your current job, make sure you leave in a professional manner. Be pleasant and professional when you explain that you will no longer be working with your company. Most often your midlife career crisis has more to do with your wants and needs rather than what the company couldn’t provide you. Realize that sometimes moving on when you refocus is the best thing to do without doing so begrudgingly.

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