How to get off the mid-career treadmill
Remember what it was like when you landed your first “real” job?
The light-footed way you glided through the lobby, the thrill you felt when you opened your first box of business cards, the nervousness of recording your voice message? You were going to make your mark — change the world — be a vice-president by the age of 40!
Now you are nearing 50 and dragging yourself from one meeting to the next, resenting your boss and praying that the phone won’t ring any time after two in the afternoon. Where did all that energy and optimism go?
When did your career path go stagnant? Why didn’t you see this coming? Better yet, what can you do about it?
Ironically, the importance of self-discipline intensifies during your mid-career just at the moment when there is a part of yourself telling you that it might be OK to take it easy.
While hiding out in the loading dock with the other cool kids or acting out in meetings because you have the self-confidence to think you can get away with it might be tempting, is that how you really want the rest of your career to play out?
It’s normal to feel a certain degree of frustration that your career dreams are not working out as you had hoped, or that you are caught on a treadmill — running all the time and never moving forward.
The first step to improving your circumstances is simply to recognise that you are not alone.
Part of working your way through the middle section of your working life frequently involves learning to deal with job-related boredom, the disappointment of being passed over for a promotion, fears of losing your job, fears of having to start over — not to mention anger issues brought on by stress and feeling that things are out of control.
Next, realise that if nothing else, you can change your perspective on your situation. Yes, your office life might be a little dull, or you might be working long hours — but how does this job serve you in other respects?
What are the other benefits that you are receiving from your employer besides a paycheque?
If your answer is “nothing”, have you considered chatting with your boss or human resources department regarding any learning opportunities that you may be missing out on?
Many companies have work shadowing, mentoring, training or continuing education opportunities for anyone who asks for them.
Some employers will even permit you to study for a degree or certificate during working hours if the course of study is approved and viewed by management as helping both you and your employer.
A side issue might be that completing this work may qualify you for a raise or a promotion.
Finally, begin to nurture your self-confidence in a way that will serve you well personally: reassess your work-life balance and make decisions that are smart for your wellbeing and your career path.
Remember, you have the job experience, maturity and self-confidence to either be the architect of your own success by seeking opportunities, driving projects and working towards a promotion — or be the wrecking ball that sabotages your own future. The choice is up to you.
• Robin Trimingham is an author and thought leader in the field of retirement who specialises in helping corporate groups and individuals understand and prepare for a new life beyond work. Contact her at The Olderhood Group, 538-8937 or robin@olderh ood.com