“Mid-career crisis is the feeling of being lost; in terms of time, direction, efforts, dreams and aspirations. It occurs after some years of experience (probably when the comfort zone is disturbed). It can also be a state of looking at career in perspective with a consolidation approach. Also, it is an opportunity for a few to play a bigger game in the remaining years of life, aiming for self-actualization.” – Dr.Nandakishore Rathi
Mid-life career crisis is a stage in career that everyone encounters. This generally use to happen between 40-55 years of age till late 90s but has shifted to around 32-42 because of fast-paced and uncertain industry environment. Another reason is, wrongly chosen career options (based on external factors). In this stage, employees find it difficult to adjust their life according to present situation. During this phase, one goes through number of experiences, such as:
(a). Fear of lost youth and missed opportunities (b). Awareness of aging and mortality (c). Failure to accomplish significant dreams (d). Imbalance between work and family commitments (e). Reality check on illusions that dominated early career decisions
He/she may experience competition from more energetic, ambitious and highly educated younger crowd, and feel defensive and inferior. Some may experience technical or managerial obsolescence. There is a sense of recognition that one has reached a plateau, and the future looks gloomy. But the above is true in case of individuals wherein the education and the work-role has been rightly chosen, and he/she has been in a comfort zone so far. Also, one was able to do the work irrespective of passion & fitment. For those with wrongly chosen career options the situation is more critical; almost like feeling lost, frustrated, pointless and extremely feared. Highly successful and ambitious ones may feel guilty of sacrificing family relationships for achieving success in career: breaks ups, ignoring children’s development, not spending time with parents etc. (bahut badi keemat).
To address mid-career crisis, most people look for quick-fix solutions by pursuing higher education, online certifications and courses (jidhar scope jyada hai). Some exhibit burst of ambition (I am ready to do any course or amount of hard work to earn Rs.1 Cr p.a.-types) to fulfil unmet ambitions, while others reduce involvement in work and suddenly become family-friendly.
At organization-level, the HR department can play important role in identifying such employees in early stage of crisis and help them with counselling and adopting other processes & tools. If the employee is willing to change his overall line of work, has required qualifications & experience to do alternate jobs, and if the organization has such vacancies, HR can encourage employees to take new challenges. Many times, employees are unsure about their future in their organisation (as the organization itself is in a shaky boat), and this results in mid-career crisis.
At individual level, one can address this crisis, based on identification of the real issue. Look at the following situations (determinants) of mid-career crisis:
People considering mid-career change also need to look at the following factors:
(i) Impact of the change on family (ii) Short-term salary set-back for long-term gain (iii) Identity crisis among friends, relatives and others (iv) Time required to build the image in the new area (v) Psychological setback for a short duration.
Lastly, whether you want change in career or not, you need to keep in mind, that the ‘Industry 4.0’ wants a smaller number of highly productive people, who can handle uncertain situations in their work with an ease, effectiveness and perfection; basically experts. You need to identify the expert in you sooner than later, to not only remain in the employment market, but also to fulfill your dreams & aspirations.