When confronted with a mid-career crisis, most of us quickly conclude that we need a radical overhaul of our careers and life.
I’m yet to meet the first professional who hasn’t hit a wall in their 40s. You know, that prolonged gray state of languishing that’s somewhere in between “ok” and depressed, and a constant inner monologue that sounds like this:
“Why am I putting up with this? Where is it all headed? Am I in the wrong job?… no, no… maybe I’m in the wrong career?… is it too late?… but I don’t want to prove myself all over again… blah, blah, blah…”
I know how it feels to be directionless, confused, and anxious. I’ve been there. And I promise that you’ll get through the hump sooner or later. But I noticed a common theme in my experience and that of my clients:
What keeps people stuck is the illusion that the only way out of career purgatory is through radical measures.
No! You don’t need to go to the extreme of switching careers, going back to school, or moving to Belize to open a yoga camp. Getting back your mojo may be closer than you think.
Today I want to help you toss out the “either/or” mindset and invite you to embrace other possibilities.
The solution may be as simple as making a few updates.
Let’s dig in!
Before you tear it all down, consider a redesign.
Think of your career as a house. Over time, it becomes dated, too familiar, and constraining. Little things, such as the creaking floors in the hallway, the narrow bathroom, and that room on top of the garage that’s always freezing, become major annoyances as years go by.
The logical first impulse is to sell it and buy a bigger, newer home.
But in 80% of the cases, the house's bones are pretty solid, and a good remodel can do the trick.
Remember those home-makeover shows on HGTV where a superstar interior designer transforms a house on a tight budget by reconfiguring spaces, renovating old furniture, repurposing junk, and updating colors?
Bingo! The same idea can apply to your career transformation.
I’ve seen this approach often play out in my coaching practice. Many of my clients come in search of a 90-degree turn, only to discover that all they need is a 20-degree shift.
Here’s how to give your career a makeover.
1) CRAFT A VISION
Find out what's truly important to you, what you value, and what you want out of your career. What are your non-negotiables and deal-breakers?
2) CLARIFY YOUR CONSTRAINTS
Understand your ambition: what does "good enough" look like? What available resources or "investments" can get you there? What are you willing to give up? What is your expected timeframe for change? How much time and energy can you realistically devote right now?
3) KNOCK DOWN OLD WALLS
What’s holding you back? What old mindsets and habits do you need to replace? What things do you need to stop in your job and life to open the space you need to be fulfilled?
4) REARRANGE THE LAYOUT
What do you need to prioritize and de-prioritize? What joyful/meaningful activities can you shift from work to other areas of your life? (e.g., through hobbies, service, etc.). What pursuits will get you the highest impact with the lowest effort?
5) UPGRADE FINISHES
What new skills will you need to acquire? Which ones can you update and deepen? What new relationships will you need to build (and rekindle)?
6) ADD POPS OF COLOR AND TEXTURE TO BRING IT TO LIFE
What recharging and growth routines can you introduce to your day? How can you inject fun and creativity into mundane tasks? How can you put your very own stamp on your work style?
YOUR Choices are never “either-or.” They are always “either-and.”
Before throwing the baby out with the bathwater, consider many other levers you can pull to give yourself a career makeover. For example:
How might you...
Reset your boundaries.(e.g. what's tolerable, acceptable, feasible)
Expand your scope (e.g., gain new skills, offer unique expertise, raise your hand to lead a project outside your comfort zone )
Narrow your scope/niche down (e.g., stop working on certain projects, find a specific business need only you can fill ...)
Redefine your "client" (e.g., are you better at working with individuals, teams, divisions, organizations, or the industry?)
Change your relationships (e.g., can you find a mentor, build bridges into a different team, switch divisions, move to another company,...)
Change your environment (e.g., workspace, location, geography...)
Often, happiness is just a few tweaks away.