Navigating Your Mid-Career Transition With Confidence

October 5, 2022
Lai Han Sam (Ms), PCC

If you are contemplating a mid-career change, you are not alone. 

In mid-life, many people become more reflective and aware about their limited time left. The COVID pandemic has in part accelerated that process, giving us even more reasons to think about the meaning of life in general and about the role of work plays. 

A mid-life transition is a very healthy and desired pause in the busyness of life. It gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect about our journey in life thus far and how we would like to proceed with the next half of our life. A transition as with all transitions, is a wandering into the wildness, with the desire to find a different path to joy and fulfilment. This is a recognition that there are other paths we can choose to take to get to where we want in life. This includes a discerning process of asking ourselves if we want to continue in the same path, especially in our professional lives.

While mid-career transition is a stage of life that most of us go through, it is a difficult time. We often come up against many barriers in our thinking process, objections from others around us and most likely from ourselves. All these barriers, if you truly think through them all, are rooted in fear and worry.

We fear the loss of security and worry that the new path may not be able to provide the security we need.

We fear the loss of recognition from the years of career building and worry that others will see us as less.

We fear about the time and energy investment needed and worry that we cannot do this without sacrificing the other parts of our lives.

We fear we are not good enough and worry that we will not get what we want.

We fear that if we take this new path that others will not accept us.

How then does one go through a mid-career transition and achieve our goals of crafting a different path?

  1. Ask for help
  • You don’t know what you don’t know. Look out for mentors or coworkers who have gone through a mid-career transition and seek their counsel. 
  • If you need more time and energy, ask your trusted friends and family members to help you. Help them see that this is an important juncture in your life. Ask for their understanding, support, and sometimes a listening ear, as you work things out.
  • It will also help accelerate your progress if you hire a professional career consultant, career coach and reach out to professional recruiters. They can help you to see different perspectives and give you up to date information about the job market.

  1. Take your time
  • A transition is a process. Don’t rush it. You will need time to contemplate, think and explore new areas of reflection.
  • Create time and space in your calendar that allows you to be alone. Retreats, walks, time off or a short vacation can quiet your mind and allow it to focus on your transition.
  • Give yourself check points rather than an end point. This will help you to see it as a process and celebrate your progress. When you are ready, you can then set a realistic end point to the transition.

  1. Gather more information
  • If you are thinking of a new field or a new role, it is good to gather as much information as you can. This can be in the form of conversations, research, attending networking events and taking up formal learning. The new information can assist you in your thinking process of what is realistic.
  • If you are able, try things out. Tap into your creativity and think about how you can have an experience in doing what you think could be a possible new career direction. 

  1. Manage your mental health
  • Understand what some of your triggers and stressors are, that will result in high stress and anxiety at work. As you move into your mid-career transition, these will become heightened and thus, preparing how you would respond is crucial in maintaining your mental health.
  • Make sure you continue to take care of your physical health, your work-life balance and time management. By developing healthy boundaries and habits, your mid-career transition will get the support it needs.
  • Seek out mental health professionals if you find yourself struggling. If your company offers an Employee Assistance Program, use it. If not, work with a professional therapist or counsellor to set yourself back on track.

While it is a time of stress and perhaps confusion, know that with hard work and perseverance, you will get to the other side of the wilderness and find the joy and fulfillment you desire in your career! 

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