Do you find the job you once loved doesn’t excite you as much as it used to? Has your performance at work slipped resulting in your being passed over for a promotion? Are you dragging yourself to work these days?
If any of this sounds familiar, it’s time to ask yourself whether you’re undergoing a mid-career slump.
Akin to a mid-life crisis, a mid-career crisis is when a person experiences a sense of disillusionment with respect to his/her career. It’s a common problem that strikes many working professionals in their 30s and 40s. According to research, the average job satisfaction curve is U-shaped: it starts on a high, takes a downward turn in the mid-career stages before picking up again towards the end of person’s career. The dip in curve usually coincides with professional fatigue, a shortfall in motivation and deteriorating health because of stress.
There are several ways to bounce back from a mid-career slump. But first, you need to accept that you’re stuck in a career plateau by recognizing these six signs:
1. You feel unmotivated and frustrated
You walked into this career several years ago because it thrilled and energized you. Years of doing the same thing over and over again has taken its toll and today you are now left wondering where that passion has gone. You find it hard to focus on a task for more than a few minutes, and take frequent breaks for coffee or spend time on social media.
You are stressed and burnt out, and drag yourself to office every day because you need a stable job.
2. You are stagnating at your job
You have been performing your tasks mechanically, without engagement or passion. Naturally, your performance has plunged or is stagnating -- along with your career. You are passed over for promotions and your boss simply doesn’t value your services anymore. Also, you can’t remember the last time you learnt anything new on the job.
3. You're contemplating a career change
Disillusioned with the job, you are thinking of changing careers. You can’t picture yourself continuing in your current job or industry in the long term, and are eager to get out. Exhausted and bored, the only thing holding you back are the risks associated with a career switch at this advanced stage in your professional life.
4. You focus on the negatives
The occasional water-cooler complaint session has become an all-day affair. The negatives at work leave a lasting impact on you, while you tend to easily dismiss the positives. You whine about your job or organization and indulge in needless gossip about your bosses and co-workers. You have an aura of pessimism around you that may have started to affect your co-workers’ morale.
5. You have behavior problems
Are you snapping at colleagues over minor issues? That signals your troubled mind has begun to impact your interpersonal skills at work. You aren’t just easily irritated in office. The stress and frustration is taking a toll on your relationships outside work as well.
6. You neglect your health
The unhappiness you feel is a constant source of stress, which can lead to lifestyle diseases like high blood pressure or depression. You may also be abusing your health and seeking comfort in binge drinking or eating. Exercise is no longer a priority as you wallow in self-pity.
To pull yourself out of a mid-career slump, you need to identify the signs that indicate you are in one. Then you can decide how to find new challenges to jump-start your enthusiasm.