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Three signs you’re having a midlife career crisis – and what to do about it

Gazing out the window, making endless tea runs, hiding in the bathroom. Outwardly you’re going about your business, but inside you’re screaming, "I want to change my career!"

Here are three quick signs to find out if that’s you – and how to rekindle work-life happiness. This could be at your current job, a rival firm or doing something totally different. We'll help you find the right tonic for your midlife career crisis.

We’ve all experienced a bad day at work – you’re there for the requisite number of hours but you can’t seem to get anything done. Perhaps it’s a one off, or maybe it’s the beginning of a midlife career crisis. Job discontent, specifically, can be tougher to diagnose. Here’s how to spot if you’re in a career slump ­– and what to do to haul yourself out of it.

You take it easy

It’s a great feeling to master a job and become an expert. But if your daily tasks have become muscle memory and you spend chunks of your day staring out the window, tweaking your fantasy football team or shopping online: that’s the first sign of a mid-career crisis.

To feel content at work, you must challenge yourself. The best way to do it is by trying something new. So, before you hit the job listings, do your current position differently. Mastering new technology, for example, could make you even better at your job and give you something to learn.

You begrudge new talent

Threatened by the fresh-faced uni leavers? Angry they’re strolling into high-paid jobs without experience? Don’t be. You’re channelling the wrong emotions.

Don’t fight them, join and learn from them. (Then beat them to that promotion.) A great way to do it is to become a co-mentor. They may exude self-confidence, but you can bet new starters are anxious about the world of work. You can teach them what textbooks can’t. Plus, nurturing talent will open a rewarding new aspect to your job.

But learn from newbies, too. Ask how they think, what technology they use and how they approach tasks. That way, you’ll learn skills to do your job better and stay in demand.

You lack purpose

Learning a job, becoming good at it and making money satisfy us to a point. But as we grow older, our characters and sense of value change.

A recent survey by the Happiness Research Institute found the top source of career contentment was ‘a sense of purpose’. But if learning new skills, mastering new technology or mentoring at your current job doesn’t give you purpose, it’s time to act.

If you’re thinking about a midlife career change, you’ll need to do some research first. But before you leave, there are ways to find that spark and keep the day job.

If, say, giving back to society feels more important than earning more money, sites such as Do It match up your expertise with those who need it most.

If time’s a factor, consider dropping down to part-time, going freelance or consulting. That way, you pick your hours and spend more time doing what gives you a sense of purpose. Charity work. Spending more time with family. Zorbing. Whatever lights up your mojo.


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