Mid Career Crises Aren’t Always Midway

Mid-career-crisisMy recent series of post on mid career challenges has resonated with a number of readers. But there’s another crucial moment we face towards the end of one’s career. When we’re nearing the point where we make plans for retirement, these issues flare up again. There’s no term for it, but late-career awareness can be just as confusing and challenging.

I’ll share just one comment from a reader:

Dear Chip, Always enjoy your points. I will be age 59 in about a month and went through the mid life thing at 43. I am expecting to retire at age 62.5 (hopefully) from the full-time, high energy, stressful and lots of responsibility job to something part-time and low stress. I see from the U-curve that I should be started uphill. So, how come I am starting to count months already?

I feel over-worked, under-paid, and while I enjoy mentoring to my hopeful successors and while I enjoy my industry, I find myself hating to deal with the entitlement employees that whine about everything and its never enough for them. Can you blog about us late Baby Boomers and what we should be doing to lessen the burden and anxiety I feel?

My response:

I am 58, so I am not far behind you.  I have been through a stroke and a stent…and the one thing that keeps coming back to me is relevance.  Am I remaining relevant?  At times I am reminded that we are not the target demographic anymore…unless it is for Depends…

Sounds like your sense of purpose is gone.  I have a friend that describes people of all ages as Opt-out or Opt-in.  The Opt-out’s are the entitlement people, about 40% of the population.  They are the group you see at WalMart riding scooters…and they are at the other end of the scale.  The wealthy who don’t worry about mundane things.  The Opt-Ins are the ones that are tuned in, turned on and, dare I say, relevant.  It doesn’t matter what age you are…are you remaining relevant?

Freud once noted that two requisites are necessary for sanity: work and love. What happens when work and love lose their sparkle as often happens mid life?

Our work carries a large invisible burden, the presumption that it will provide our lives with meaning and energize our spirits. Sometimes it does. By mid life, however, many find that their work drains rather than energizes them.

The ego has a tendency to prefer security over development, but the danger is that if you only heed your ego, you might wind up with neither.

At mid life, the majority of us feel the need to rethink our priorities, but don’t. Most of us deny our development because we fear change and don’t want to risk stability.

Is there safe ground where we can explore new meaning? I think there is. But it’s often the road less traveled. What do you think? You can contact me here and on LinkedIn. Let’s talk.

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