Mid-life career change: What to do when (or before) you hit midlife crisis

You probably know people like Jim: A middle-aged man who keeps saying how much he hates his job: Not just his boss or the company he works for… the whole business he’s in. Then, one day, he loses his job. And what is he doing now? He’s complaining about the loss of income, the loss of stability. And he’s frantically trying to find a job in the very same industry.

Jim’s perspective changed. When he lost his job, he lost his sense of safety. His priority was no longer to find more fulfillment in life, it was to survive.

When we feel threatened, most of us want to run for the safety of what we know. Jim’s talents and experience are more likely to be fully appreciated in the same line of business. The practical benefit is that his job search should be shorter, and his salary higher, than if he were to go into an altogether different field.

Now, let’s assume that Jim is encountering some difficulties finding the exact same job he just lost. This solution is no longer the easy way out. In fact, this solution may not even be possible. Now, more fear sets in.

Fear pushes Jim to stretch his comfort zone. He has to seek other possibilities. He does it with a knot in his stomach: This is no longer the angry Jim who despised the business he was in. This is a man who is feeling rejected, first by his employer, then by a whole business category. Will others now reject him as well? Jim is afraid they will: After all, he’s even more of a stranger to these new businesses than he was to the more familiar companies he approached at first.

Jim’s story ends well. In this case, adversity turns out to be a blessing in disguise: It gives Jim the chance to actually go out and explore other careers.

What is the moral of this story?

One possible conclusion is: Wait to be fired, trusting that Providence will lead to you to bigger and better things.

Another one is: Nod your head wisely, while muttering: “The grass is always greener elsewhere”. And don’t even dream of changing the status quo.

Of course, there’s also another possible conclusion:
It might make sense to find motivation from something else than fear. Why not take advantage of feeling safe to explore what you really want out of life?