I’m going to let you into a secret; this was the exact thought I had in my head when I started to seriously contemplate making changes to my career. The big 40 was looming, a couple of years earlier I had lost my mum and I had started to question what I wanted from life. The path I had envisaged had not materialized for me, I had not met my Mr Perfect, the family I assumed I would have, had not materialised. However, life was generally good; I had a lovely home, a great family and amazing friends. I would travel far and wide a number of times a year and life was very comfortable. But was comfortable enough?
I continued to have this inner dialogue with myself. Questioning whether the fact I had stopped caring about my job, the realisation that I didn’t want to climb the corporate ladder any further was this something that would pass or was there something deeper going on. I would make light-hearted jokes with others about it, I would make the purchases to try and feel the void, change the hairstyle, visit far-flung places to gain some perspective, but the truth of the matter was that whether it was a midlife crisis or a job, I wasn’t happy and something needed to change.
I like to think that a midlife crisis or transition is a way of giving yourself a gentle nudge, a validation check to make sure you are making the most of your life. That you are assessing and re-evaluating what’s important to you and being brave enough to make adjustments.
For many of us this transition period will occur around a big life event, such as the kids moving on, the death of a parent a big birthday, breakdown in a key relationship and for others, it may be more subtle. But the routine of our life comes into question, what was our key focus (for example the kids, or our career), or a key stabilizer that grounded us (our parents, our job) are thrown up in the air. How we identified ourselves is being challenged, the mother, the daughter, the breadwinner, the career person, the partner and as a result of this disruption we feel out of place, lost and confused. We start to question our abilities and our decisions, do we really know ourselves or are we just being silly? Before we know it our self-confidence is plummeting.
For myself I had lost the steady and calming influence of my mum, my confidant the one I would turn to for advice and then on top of that the identify I had created through my career was being called into question because I didn’t want to be this high flyer anymore. What was important to me had changed. The goals I had were no longer important.
What I needed to do was to admit what was really going on. Ok, I couldn’t figure it out in one go; but I needed to start to take small steps. The only way I could answer the question was it a midlife crisis or time to quit the job was to accept how I felt and take action.
I started to work with a coach, which gave me a safe environment to openly admit what I did want without feeling judged. I started to explore the different areas of my life and get clear on which parts I felt had too much attention or not enough and then I took action to readdress the balance.
A key part for me was thinking about who I wanted to be, what was important to me and how that would show in the different parts of my life and this led me to develop my new goals and priorities. Slowly the pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place. Consistently the words 'making a difference to others' came through. I knew that I wanted to be more present in the life of my family and I admitted how much I really wanted to share my life with someone. Living in a different country, with no partner in a job that was very strategic was clearly a mismatch. Slowly by piecing these different together I was able to answer the question -yes I was going through a transition, but this had helped me to determine that it was time to quit.
Have you been struggling with this very question? Yes, my advice to you is:
- Admit it! It’s ok to acknowledge that you aren’t happy and want to make changes to your life and it's defiantly ok to make them!
- Get support. Being able to talk to someone about how you feel is important. Trying to deal with this alone can be hard, working through your emotions and figuring out the answers. A supportive friend, partner or relation can be that lifeline. But also if you don’t have the right person then someone external like a coach can provide that’s structure and framework to help you transition.
If you are a female going through this you may want to join my Private Facebook Group as over the next couple of weeks I will be sharing some of the very exercises I used to help figure my way out.