It feels like yesterday that you graduated from college and embarked on your career with excitement. Or does it? Because when you really stop to think about, your early 20s suddenly seem like a lifetime ago.
Today, you find yourself somewhere between the ages of 35 and 45 and on paper, everything about your life looks fine. You got your education. You have a "good" job and decent income. Maybe you're even married with kids.
For all intents and purposes, you made it. If people scrolled through your Facebook or LinkedIn feeds, they might think you have it all figured out.
But you know something they don't. "On paper" only tells part of the story. You're not as fired up about your career anymore. The go-getter inside you seems to have been buried away. You feel off balance and even out of place in the office around your colleagues. At times, you feel like a zombie on a conveyor belt.
You've started questioning your career choices and the company you work for. You ask yourself, "Am I doing what I originally set out to do with my career when I entered the real world?" Perhaps you find the answer is "no."
You might even find your company and colleagues are beginning to question you. Are they no longer coming to you for your expertise? Are you giving them a reason for you to be part of the next layoffs?
If this is you, as is the case for scores of my clients, chances are you're in a mid-career slump. Here are five ways to know for sure:
1. You Do "Good Enough" Work
There was a time early in your career when you went above and beyond on every project and assignment. But over the years, things have slowly changed. Today, you do good enough work, but not your best work. No one's complaining about your work - but no one's raving about it either.
2. Getting Promoted Seems More Like a Burden Than a Reward
When you think about a new title and new responsibilities (maybe even more money), you balk at the idea of taking on new challenges rather than getting excited about the opportunity. You're comfortable in your current position and fear shaking things up.
3. You Stopped Building Relationships
At one point, you were committed to building strong relationships with your colleagues and people in your industry. Maybe this meant conducting informational interviews, having lunch with people in your field, and periodically joining colleagues after work. It was important for you to be surrounded by allies. Today, you're disinterested in learning more about your colleagues and people have stopped inviting you to lunches or outings because you always decline.
4. You've Stopped Taking Action on Your Ideas
The creative gears in your brain use to spin non-stop. Not only would you think of great ideas or solutions to problems at your company, but you'd also take action on those ideas and make them happen. Today, you might get ideas, but you no longer act on them. Your best ideas are gathering dust in a notebook or on a hard drive.
5. You've Stopped Learning
In the past, there wasn't a training or workshop you wouldn't attend. You were excited to develop new skills, learn new types of software, or attend industry conferences. This is no longer the case and means your skills are becoming dull and you don't feel as sharp as you once did.
If you can relate to any of the above and you find yourself in a mid-life career slump, don't worry. You can get beyond it and rediscover what makes you tick. Part two of this series will provide steps to move forward and make progress in your career again.
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