Nearly half of HR leaders say employee burnout is the cause of up to 50% of their annual workforce turnover. The reasons for worker fatigue range from poor compensation and an overwhelming workload to negative workplace culture and bad management.
Sound familiar? If so, you may need a career reboot.
Maybe you’ve been doing the same job for so long that you feel like you’ve plateaued—or perhaps you’re so good at what you do (read: bored) that retirement can’t come soon enough. Whatever your current situation may be, there are ways to add life to your job without necessarily having to find a new one.
Marcia L. Worthing and Charles A. Buck, authors of Escape the Mid-Career Doldrums, offer four ways to recharge your career.
1. Capitalize on your expertise. The (sad) truth is, mid-career employees are more vulnerable to downsizing and layoffs. However, once companies experience a major overhaul, they almost immediately need to outsource work, hire freelancers, or rely on part-time help.
Whether you lose your job or are dissatisfied with the one you have, you can always apply your knowledge and skills in a new context. In fact, it’s your experience that will make you stand out as that go-to consultant or favorable outside resource.
2. Network like you mean it. Maybe you’re like me and you dread the small-talk of work happy hours and would much rather chat with your circle of colleagues. Mustering the nerve to meet someone new, like an employee who works (gasp) in another department and could possibly better your career, can feel daunting. Luckily, there are easier ways to network.
Stay in touch with your former employer and colleagues by sending them “catch up” emails every few months because you never know when you’ll learn about a new opportunity or exciting side project. Grab lunch or a coffee with a colleague and inspire each other to set obtainable work and life goals. You can also attend trade shows, conferences, and conventions to keep up with industry trends and meet leaders in your field.
3. Keep learning. Many mid-career professionals are returning to school to earn continuing education credits or advanced degrees. In fact, colleges and universities accommodate this mid-career market by offering online degrees and certifications that can be obtained while holding down a full-time job.
If you don’t want to commit to a hefty course load, you could always attend short workshops or one-day seminars. This is a great way to keep your skill set relevant and meet like-minded people in your field who could help you grow in your current position or transition to a new job.
4. Find your purpose. There’s the IT guy who left corporate to join a small start-up. The woman in sales who published a children’s book. Or the receptionist who moonlights as a dog walker. Maybe you’ve already found your passion, but if you haven’t yet, ask yourself: “If I could change anything in this world, what would it be?”
The benefits of volunteering include feeling happier and more connected to others as well as an uptick in your self-worth. Volunteering could be the perfect antidote to a mid-career slump. Even if you volunteer just once a month, you may find that a specific cause brings you a true sense of purpose. Some people even turn their joy from volunteering into full-time work.
Considering that some of the most influential people didn’t break onto the scene until late in their careers—Julia Child made her first television appearance at age 51 and Charles Darwin was 50 when he published On the Origin of Species—it’s never too late to learn something new, and the middle of your career certainly isn’t the end. Have you experienced a mid-career slump? Share your thoughts on overcoming it in the comments below.
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