Are you experiencing a midlife career crisis? You’re not alone! Read to find out how I overcame my midlife career crisis on a journey to finding purpose and fulfillment.
I’m learning that midlife is a pretty wild ride. I turned 35 and suddenly, I was questioning everything. My early midlife crisis hit me square in the face.
I firmly believe that my crisis came a bit early because of COVID and the time I spent working remotely with my children at home. It wouldn’t be surprising to me at all if stats showed a surge of midlife career changes after that unique period of time in our lives.
Pandemic aside, a midlife crisis can happen any time between 35-55. Being “early” or “late” doesn’t really matter. Whenever you start to feel a sense of unease and questioning, you’ve probably entered your midlife funk/transition/crisis, whatever you want to call it.
I know there are probably several of you out there who find yourself in a similar boat. In this post, I’m going to share with you how I realized I was experiencing a midlife career crisis and what I did to overcome.
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- What Is a Midlife Career Crisis?
- Self-Reflection and Assessment
- Exploring Options and Gathering Information
- Overcoming Fear and Embracing Change
- Embracing Flexibility and Adaptability
- Taking Action and Moving Forward
- Final Thoughts
What Is a Midlife Career Crisis?
A midlife career crisis is that moment when you look at your job and wonder, “Is this really what I want to be doing with the rest of my days?”
For some that might cue a total sense of existential dread and panic.
Others might ask that question and get excited about a new adventure!
Whatever you are feeling, know that it’s normal and there are plenty of things you can do about it.
Signs of a Midlife Career Crisis
Here are the signs I personally experienced that told me I was ready for a change.
I felt an inexplicable sense of dread when I got to work, and it took a while to shake it during the day. Several times a day I found myself completely zoning out and having trouble initiating easy tasks. An increase in my coffee intake did nothing to help.
Before I knew it, I was spending my lunch break perusing job listings. I told myself it was just out of curiosity, but eventually that curiosity led me to filling out applications and creating a new resume.
Causes and Triggers of a Midlife Career Crisis
A career crisis could be caused by a variety of factors.
Maybe you’ve outgrown your current role like an overgrown pair of pants or perhaps you’ve realized that your passion lies in a completely different field. It could even be a midlife awakening triggered by scrolling your Instagram feed and seeing others finding their “dream job” traveling the world.
Like I mentioned earlier, I believe my crisis was triggered by the pandemic. It was the first time I had the ability to stay home with my children.
It was dang stressful trying to work remotely while helping my kindergartener navigate virtual learning, and also caring for a toddler and baby. But it was also really beautiful, and we have some amazing memories from that time.
It made me realize I can absolutely work part-time or remotely and be the mom I’ve always wanted to be.
In the past, I never imagined myself being a stay-at-home mom in any capacity. I really felt like I needed my own world away from home in order to be mentally ok. It felt good to feel successful at work and provide for my family with a steady income.
In 2020, it really felt like a mental switch was flipped. I didn’t know what I wanted to do exactly, but I knew I wanted more flexible work hours.
Whatever the cause of your midlife career crisis, it’s time for you to accept the reality of it and take control!
Self-Reflection and Assessment
When I accepted that I was experiencing a career crisis, it took me three more very long years before I finally pushed myself to make the leap.
I spent a ton of time budgeting, saving, investing in professional development, reading, and networking. At one point, I went as far as interviewing at a local university. I didn’t get the job, but it opened the door for other opportunities.
Your journey could take as long as mine, or longer, but it doesn’t have to take years! Once you partake in some self-reflection, you’ve given yourself a great head start.
Self-reflection and assessment includes:
- evaluating personal values at home and work
- exploring your interests and passions
- identifying your skills and strengths
- getting feedback from friends, family, and coworkers
- checking out the possibilities and options that exist
Lucky for you, I’ve put all of this together in one handy workbook. I particularly love the skills assessment because it’s VERY thorough. You are guaranteed to be pleasantly surprised at all the wonderful strengths you bring to the table. These are all skills you could easily slip into a resume or mention during your interview.
Exploring Options and Gathering Information
I wrote an entire post with helpful advice when considering a midlife career change. You can find it here.
To summarize, here are some key points to consider:
Do Your Research
It never hurts to look at what’s out there, even if you’re only in the beginning stages of considering a career transition.
Look at all jobs that are interesting to you, not necessarily ones that are in your current field. See what the qualifications are and what your transferable skills might be.
There are so many online resources available to those of us looking for new careers. If the idea of working remotely is especially appealing to you, I recommend checking out Flex Jobs. They are the largest resource for legitimate and flexible work-from-home jobs.
Hire My Mom is another remote job site that connects small businesses with virtual professionals (like you!). They also offer services to help you draft a professional cover letter and resume.
Update Your Resume
If you’ve gone through your midlife career change self-assessment, you know the skills you bring to the table. It’s probably been a while since you worked on your resume, so make sure you create a new, well-designed document that highlights your career successes and qualifications.
There are plenty of online resources to help you if it’s been way too long. You can design your own using templates on Canva. This is the route I took, because I was already comfortable using their platform.
If you need a little (or a lot) more support, My Perfect Resume will help you draft the perfect resume for the specific job you are looking for.
Don’t forget to check for any grammatical or spelling errors. Grammarly offers both free and paid AI writing assistance. I downloaded the browser extension, and it automatically detects errors or makes suggestions for rewording. The paid version will even tell you the tone of your writing!
When you start a job search, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything you’ve looked at and everything you need.
Create a folder on your computer desktop or in a designated Google Drive folder. Put all of your job search documents in one place for easy access.
Put deadlines into your calendar and set reminders. You’ll have serious regret if you finally decide to apply for a job, only to discover it’s no longer posted.
Once you start heading out for interviews, print everything you need and keep it in a professional padfolio.
Work on New Skills
When I started searching for new potential careers, I stumbled upon a job at a local university. It was not anything I had done before, but I had supervised interns in the past and really enjoyed it.
As soon as I realized teaching at the college level was intriguing to me, I started doing my research and taking courses that would expand my knowledge. It’s already opened some amazing doors for me that I had never considered before.
Even if you don’t plan on completely changing your job right now, it’s crucial to invest in yourself at every stage of life. We should always be pushing ourselves to keep learning. If anything, it will help increase your earning potential at work or push you closer to a promotion.
There are many online career and skills training resources out there. Skillshare, Springboard, and Udemy are three I would personally recommend. Check it out and see what they have to offer! They have thousands upon thousands of courses, so you’re sure to find something helpful.
Network and Find Mentors
I have been able to network at my daughter’s birthday parties. Seriously. Just opening myself up to meeting new people has helped me find new job opportunities.
As soon as I posted on social media that I was leaving my 13-year career and considering self-employment, I was flooded with messages in my inbox. I had no idea there were so many local families looking for private tutoring. It wasn’t on my radar, but you can bet that now I’m going to look into creating an LLC and going that route.
I’ve started reaching out to others I know who have similar jobs and I’ve learned so much already.
My advice? Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and meet new people. That fellow booster club mom might be the key to your new career.
Overcoming Fear and Embracing Change
What holds most us back from making a change, is fear of the unknown. It’s why it took me three years to admit I wanted a new career.
When you’ve earned the degrees and dedicated years and years to one job, you might feel like you have to stay. But you don’t! Who says that’s the rule?
Once you shift your mindset and view it as a journey, rather than a life sentence, you realize your degrees and years of experience can benefit you in a variety of roles.
For example, if you were an elementary school teacher, I bet you’d also be a great event planner!
So challenge whatever limiting beliefs you currently have and work on cultivating a growth mindset.
You’re potentially one decision away from a completely new, amazing life!
And if you aren’t sure what an amazing dream life looks like for you, I highly recommend creating a vision board. Here’s a picture of mine below for reference. I sat down and visualized myself spending more time at home, bringing in passive income, starting a blog (I now have two!), and practicing mindfulness.
So far, I feel like I’ve accomplished what I set out to accomplish! It’s a pretty great feeling.
Embracing Flexibility and Adaptability
Our path may have twists and turns. That’s life!
If you find yourself feeling stuck and burned out at work, make sure you opening yourself to new opportunities.
You don’t have to be stuck! You don’t have to dread going into work.
Even if you are older, you can be adaptable. The workforce still needs us and everything we bring to the table. If you embrace technology and accept that some training and education might be necessary, you can absolutely learn new skills and become a highly sought after employee.
Or maybe you will become the entrepreneur you always dreamed you could be!
When you reframe your thinking and stay flexible, you will realize the opportunities are almost limitless.
Taking Action and Moving Forward
Sometimes when we go through a midlife crisis or period of transition, we have the urge to make drastic changes. While I encourage you to consider the possibility of a midlife career change, I DO NOT encourage a spontaneous, impulsive change.
Make sure your decisions are informed and your risks are calculated. If you have not been making wise financial choices, you need to get that in order before you make a move. Curious how to save more money and build wealth? Check out all of my posts regarding finances. It’s another topic I’m particularly passionate about.
Write down your goals, make a plan, add dates, and monitor progress. Be smart about your transition.
Even if you aren’t ready to make the leap, keep exploring possibilities and celebrate small accomplishments along the way. Did you make a vision board? Good for you! Got a new resume drafted? Awesome job! Looked around at online job opportunities? Congratulations!
At the end of this month, I’m leaving my career in public education.
I thought I would feel total panic, but now that it’s time, I feel nothing but gratitude for the years I had, excitement for the future, and pure joy when I think about the increased time I now get to spend with my kids.
There are several opportunities I’m considering for the fall, but I’m looking forward to a few summer months to relax and start planning. If you’re interested in my personal journey and want more specific updates, I recommend subscribing to receive my monthly newsletters.
I hope this post helped you realize you are not alone in your midlife career crisis. It’s totally normal and really not a bad thing! It’s an opportunity to revisit what your interests and values are and consider if there is another career or job out there that might make you feel more fulfilled.
Life is too short to feel dread every day at work for years and years. We all deserve the opportunity to live a life of purpose and joy. As George Eliot said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
Before you go, here are some other posts you might find interesting:
- Helpful Advice for a Midlife Career Change
- 20 Inspirational Quotes for a Midlife Career Change
- Early Midlife Crisis: Why It’s Normal and What to Do
- Ways to Make Money from Home in Midlife
- How to Get Out of a Midlife Funk
- Becoming a Stay-at-Home Mom in Midlife: Why and How?
Over to you- are you considering a midlife career change? Did you already have a successful midlife career transition? Tell us about it in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!