It might surprise you that only 15% of us find our work satisfying. Eh?
Even after choosing to study specific subjects at school, several years at University and maybe even several decades increasing our impact within our chosen field, we’re still not doing satisfying work?
Imagine if we’d spent that long perfecting our sexual prowess? We’d be pretty dissatisfied if we weren't teaching our well-honed techniques to the millions of adoring fans!
Yet, many of us midlifers wake up one day, after major investments of time, energy and money to realise that we are not happy at work.
So how do we start designing more satisfying work?
The action-orientated midlifers among us, embrace their vulnerability openly enough to say “I’m somewhere I don’t want to be and I don’t know what to do about it…yet.”
Then they crack on learning what they don’t currently know to fill in the gaps.
They figure out what’s getting in their way. They begin to learn how to overcome their own personal hindrances to designing work that fits them better - mindset, financial, emotional or knowledge hindrances.
But others who do not embrace that first emotionally vulnerable situation, often spend years justifying their decision to stay exactly where they are.
If you know anything about me, you know that I believe time is our most precious commodity. You know that the thought that I might die tomorrow drives me to challenge myself in weird and wonderful ways in life and work.
So, whilst I metaphorically take myself behind the bike shed and beat myself up mentally about the years I wasted doing work that didn’t matter to me anymore, I don’t want that for you. Your time is too valuable!
Let me show you a list that might be familiar to you.
WARNING: If you are telling yourself more than a couple of these, you are stuck and will need to make a choice after finishing this article.
Top 10 reasons successful midlifers give to stay in careers that don’t suit them anymore:
1. “I’ll never be able to earn the same salary again.”
2. “I’ll have to take a low-paying job to begin with and I’m too old to start at the bottom.”
3. “I’ve only ever done X.” (insert current career)
4. “My partner/friends/colleagues would think I was having a midlife crisis.”
5. “No-one would employ me to do something different.”
6. “I don’t know what I’d do, if I didn’t do this.”
7. “I enjoy a great deal of flexibility and autonomy. I doubt I’d get that in another job.”
8. “It’ll take me another 20 years to become good at something.”
9. “I have flexibility that no other employer will offer.”
10. “If I changed now, I would waste the huge investment in my current career.”
I’d like to add a final one which no one has ever said to me directly but it is imbedded in all decisions to stay in a career which is wrong – “It’s easier to stay where I am.”
Let’s be honest - It is bloody scary taking a leap of faith and jumping into another career. Read more about the fear behind career change in this article.
For that reason, I don’t recommend it. In fact, I wholeheartedly advise against it.
Leaps of faith are for kids and are not appropriate if you have any of the following:
Kids to feed, clothe, get to university (feed and clothe if they come back
A partner who likes doing nice things with you
A desire to maintain any kind of status in your friendship group
But there’s a different way.
Actually there are lots of different ways.
Re-frame the problem - it’s risk free!
If you turn your stuckness from an emotional problem into a knowledge gap, you risk nothing by just filling in some of those gaps.
For my book, X Change: How to torch your work treadmill, I interviewed 100 successful midlife career changer to understand the patterns and secrets behind designing happier work. They all took early steps to fill in their personal knowledge gaps. They all started by filling in just one of their knowledge gaps.
Here are some of the first steps successful (happier) career changers took:
They sought insight and advice from a trusted HR colleague
They engaged with a career coach
They tried new things to see if they sparked enough energy to sustain their interest
They started to understand and work on their stress levels
They invested a little in on-line training in a new field of interest
They figured out what they loved doing (I call these Superpowers)
They spent some of their hard-earned cash on career enhancement
They began to understand their cash-burn rate and their long-term financial situation in detail.
They began to understand their true, long-term financial situation
That’s honestly just a few examples of their first steps.
The common thread is that they stopped thinking about the problem of feeling stuck and they started learning.
It didn’t change the problem, but it changed their attitude to the problem.
For some, that was enough to kick-start a research project that would change their work forever and have bigger impacts on their life outside of work than they could have imagined. .
Are you ready to take a risk-free step?
If this resonates, why not take your first step towards learning what your gaps are and book in for a free 30min “Light at the end of my tunnel” calls where I guarantee to give you at least two personalised recommendations to kick-start your career re-design, whether you decide to work with me or not.
What do you have to lose?