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Career Success

How To Turn Your Mid-Career Crisis Into an Opportunity

Written by Rachel Serwetz
Career Exploration Coach | CEO | Founder | Speaker | Guiding you to identify and pursue your best-fit career path
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If you’re feeling like you’re facing a career crisis, don’t fret. The good news is that this is a moment where you can notice the need for change, which means you’re embracing self-awareness and the opportunity for growth.

Whether you’re newer in your career or facing a mid-career crisis, it is common to feel moments of stress, uncertainty, or confusion in your career. However, with the right guidance and support, you can turn that feeling into a strategic and positive opportunity.

Here are eight tips on how to overcome a mid-career crisis and turn it into an opportunity.

Are You Experiencing a Mid-Career Crisis?

Ask yourself these questions and see if you’re experiencing any of these signs:

  • Are you debating a career pivot?
  • Are you considering quitting?
  • Are you looking into upskilling or further education?
  • Are you constantly on the job boards?
  • Are you feeling stuck or unsure of your next steps?
  • Are you feeling unchallenged, unheard, unsupported, or unfulfilled?
  • Are you unsure how you’re feeling professionally but you know it’s not good?

Any of these feelings is a source of a professional challenge but also an opportunity. Let’s start by identifying those feelings and turning them into a positive source of change.

How to Overcome a Mid-Career Crisis

1. Lean on Some Support and Guidance

While this article will guide you through several important self-reflection questions and practical efforts you can take to progress forward, it doesn’t hurt to find a mentor, peer, coach, or any form of guidance so that you don’t have to go about these career changes on your own.

There is a slew of tools, resources, and people here to ensure you can utilize best practices, feel guided, and ensure you are being efficient, effective, and intentional with your career decisions and efforts.


2. Accept and Understand Your Emotions

  • Notice how you feel and identify what you feel.
  • How long have you been feeling this way?
  • How intense is the feeling?
  • Have you been needing or wanting more but hesitating because you’re not sure what the next step should be?

Accept that it is completely common and okay to feel frustrated in your career.[1] The last thing you need is to beat yourself up for any negative emotions.

Realize these feelings are a chance to make an important change. Get comfortable with embracing how you feel as the first step.

Leveraging a loved one, a therapist, a trusted friend, mentor, peer, advisor, or coach is not a bad idea here. Know that it is quite valuable to simply spend time processing how you’re feeling so that you can soon enough feel ready to turn these feelings into action and progress towards a new direction.

It is also possible you have some subconscious feelings. Aim to meditate and/or journal to actively reflect and surface how you’re feeling. Oftentimes, there is undue pressure we put on ourselves or that we feel from our loved ones.

3. Pinpoint the Root Cause of Your Feelings

I often separate a work opportunity into three parts. Reflect on which area of your career is standing out to you.

  • Your role – This encompasses your day-to-day activities, responsibilities, skills, projects, and the overall style of your everyday work. How engaged are you in your current role? Is your challenge or potential being fulfilled?
  • Your industry – This relates to the ultimate purpose, mission, or impact that your company delivers. Do you find this product or service important or intriguing?
  • Your environment – We mainly refer to this as the “company culture,” but it can broadly relate to how the physical or intangible environment looks and feels. Are you remote or in-person? Is there support and flexibility? Do you get along with your colleagues and leadership?

You could give each of these three areas a rating from one to ten, or you could highlight for each area what is going well or not as well. It is possible that more than one of these areas is ripe for improvement.

4. Unblock Any Limiting Mindsets That Are Driving Your Career Crisis

Naturally, our brains may want to play tricks on us and conjure up any number of hesitations about what’s possible and why we should avoid career change.

Understand any uncertainties you may have and work through them with a coach if you can. The last thing we want is for you to hold yourself back. Rather, we want you to explore what could be next for you, learn deeply about all potential options, and then make an informed decision about your best next steps.

What feelings, emotions, or actions would you have to embrace or do to show up as the person you want to become? How could you move the needle to be slightly more open-minded, creative, vulnerable, and brave to uncover what might be next for you in your career?

Remember and take comfort in the fact that you never have to take any official actions until you fully understand what you want or need next in your career and the realistic nuances, patterns, and requirements for how people typically pursue the path that you’re considering.


5. Embrace Your Readiness for Change (Benefits of Career Change)

Picturing change may help you uncover if anything is stalling you from being open-minded.

Would a career change mean a lifestyle change? What would a new role mean for your life practically? Do you need to have a conversation with someone to get the support you need?

Turn any uncertainties into questions, and turn questions into answers.

Especially for mid-career pivoters, transition and change can be nerve-wracking, but sometimes, it can be the most refreshing thing to a recruiter or hiring manager to understand how you want to take your skills forward in a new direction.[2]

You can and still will very much leverage your wide array of experiences, perspectives, and knowledge but with a fresh approach that perhaps other team members don’t have.

6. Set Your Priorities: Understand What You Want and Need

After debunking all limiting mindsets, decide what your ideal career looks like. That way, with any upcoming career exploration or job search, it will be that much easier to assess what opportunity is a strong fit that will meet your needs moving forward.

7. Determine Your Next Steps: Turn Career Crisis Into Opportunity

If you feel that your role isn’t challenging or serving you, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there something I can do to take on greater responsibility in my role?
  • What is the next role upward and do I want to strive for that level? If so, how can I go about that?
  • Is there some learning-based opportunity I can take on outside of work to stretch my skills?
  • Do I need to re-explore which role is the best fit for me?
  • If so, is there a team internally at this company I could explore moving to that is a stronger fit?
  • If not, pursue a process of exploration (deep learning and reflection) to gain confidence in your best-fit role.

To further reflect on your ideal role, you can consider skills you are natural or great at, what you most enjoy doing, and projects you have loved or would love to take on.

If you feel that your industry isn’t aligned with you, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there something I can do to take on projects that are more interesting to me within my current role or team?
  • Is there something I can take on outside of work that helps me work towards a purpose I care about?
  • Do I know which industry would be the best fit for me?
  • Consider what problem areas in our world you find interesting, impactful, or innovative.
  • If so, is there a team internally at this company I could explore moving to that is a stronger fit?
  • If not, pursue a process of exploration (deep learning and reflection) to gain confidence in your best fit industry.

To further reflect on your ideal industry, you can consider who you want to help serve, how, why, and where. You want to think about the areas of improvement in our world that you are most excited about.

If you feel that your environment isn’t aligned with you, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there something I could change about my work arrangement to make the environment more suitable? (i.e. in-person vs. remote work, hours, etc.)
  • Is there anything I can do to better fit into the culture here? You don’t want to change who you are, but if you think there are small, tangible tweaks you can make to how you’re interacting with others, it is worth reflecting on what you think you could do better or differently, in addition to what others can also do.
  • Is there feedback I can give to my colleagues or manager that I think would improve our working relationship?
  • If you feel that the environment is beyond your control, I would embrace the potential that you may want to consider job searching to find an environment that better aligns with your personality and values.

To further reflect on your ideal work environment, think about the pace of work, what it should look and feel like, and the traits and qualities of the people around you.


8. Explore and Confidently Identify a Fitting Career Direction

Career exploration is a process that can be quite powerful to narrow in on your best new career direction. By performing a process of research, networking, reflection, and iteration, you can gain a deep understanding of the roles and industries you are considering to prioritize effectively which path will align and fulfill you.[3]

Once you have a strong, clear picture of your ideal career path forward, it will help you be more intentional with finding the right professional opportunities both within and outside of work to push you closer to your goals and potential.

Final Thoughts

Experiencing a mid-career crisis is normal, and it definitely doesn’t mean the end of your career’s progress or a lifetime of stagnation. It just means that you can either sit back and wait for change to come to you or use it as an opportunity to actively reflect, pivot, and improve your career.

Featured photo credit: Thought Catalog via unsplash.com


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