American Association for Physician Leadership

Operations and Policy

Some Suggestions for Dealing with Midcareer Malaise

Harvard Business Review

January 15, 2019


How should you address a midcareer crisis? Here are tips to figure out what to do.

You’ve reached that career moment when you discover opportunities aren’t endless and time is finite. These tips can help you deal with the professional discontent.

We all have times when we wonder, “Am I working for the right organization? Am I in the right job? And is this all there is?”

These questions are especially agonizing for midcareer professionals who may be searching for fulfillment while juggling demands at home and intense financial pressures to earn.

How should you address a midcareer crisis? Here’s how to figure out what to do:

Reflect and reframe: Identify the cause of your professional discontent. Break down the problem and start with the place where it hurts. Is it your job? Or the organization you’re in?

RELATED: How to Keep Midcareer Employees Engaged, Healthy

Make small changes: It’s not uncommon to be generally happy at your organization but miserable in your job. One possible remedy is to consider what kinds of small changes, such as seeking out an exciting and immersive project or joining an internal committee that will stretch you in new ways.

Focus on learning: One of the biggest culprits of middle-age career malaise is boredom. Taking on new challenges and responsibilities is an obvious answer.

RELATED: How to Survive When Overwhelmed by Your Workload

Consciously seek meaning: The unmet desire for impact is another common source of professional unhappiness. Make an effort to meet the people who directly benefit from your work, whether they’re customers, clients or colleagues. When you can see how your work is being used by others, it is hard not to find meaning.

Consider a career change: If these strategies don’t have their desired effect, it could be a sign that you need to make a dramatic move. If you stay checked out in your job, over time, you precipitate your own demise.

Copyright 2018 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

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