I was networking with a phenomenal human last week, diving into an exchange of experiences and stories, etc. It was one of my first “in-person” coffee chats since the pandemic and it felt SOOO GOOD to be back to doing this in a way that feels really meaningful! Networking is key to a vibrant professional life. AND most of us struggle to make time for it; yet, it offers so much more than simply meeting with people.
For example, during this conversation I had an AH-HA that could only have hit me through conversation with someone who wasn’t familiar with my work. I mentioned that I work with mid-career professionals to help them create a work life they can love, and as we got deeper into what that meant my lovely companion looked at me with genuine surprise and said “I just realized, I’m mid-career!”. They didn’t count themselves amongst the many who are mid-career because it didn’t feel like they were in the “middle” yet. It made me realize that not everyone uses the term “mid-career” in the same way.
We have so many societal references to “mid” and “middle”; mid-life crisis, mid-way, midnight, etc. The term seems to reference the mid-point of something, but with respect to your career, “mid” is a relative term. Mid-career is a reference to that broad and deep part of life when you’ve been working in your chosen profession for a few years, but before you’re committed to retirement.
Yup. It’s THOSE 25 or so years of working life. One of my friends charmingly describes this as the part of life where you are “old enough to know better, but still young enough to want to do it anyway!” Far from being the literal mid-point of life, it starts in your mid-to-late 20’s and continues right through to the day you commit to a retirement date.
FOR MOST OF US, MID-CAREER SPANS A QUARTER OF A CENTURY (25 years 😳).
That’s a long time. Which is why it’s so important to make yourself a priority and to feel good about the way you’re investing your best years at work. These are the years you’re going to grow the most AND THAT INCLUDES YOUR EARNING POTENTIAL. They are also the busiest years of your life! Marriage/partnership, professional demands, kids, mortgage, health concerns, aging parents, travel, retirement saving. This is the part of life where all the really big events happen, and not always at a convenient time or pace, because you will be more “time-poor” during this period of life than ever before (without the flexibility, or energy, to do “all-nighters” to get things done at work). Oh, and if this wasn’t enough, you need to prove yourself professionally in your career (over and over again).
In this part of life, you will experience some of your highest highs and your lowest lows. You’ll be pulled in so many directions, on so many days, you’ll wonder how you’re still whole (or standing). You’ll make compromises that impact your wellbeing, for the wellbeing of others.
It's simultaneously demanding, and rewarding – feeding you a dopamine high that keeps you coming back for more. Mid-career will provide your biggest accomplishments right alongside your most epic failures. You’ll learn more lessons during these 25+ years than in any other part of your life; you’ll screw-up, learn, fail again, succeed, learn, fail and so on, and so on.
AND because there’s so much to do, so much to accomplish, you’ll lose sight of yourself sometimes in the process. The biggest struggle for professionals during this time of life is to make/keep prioritizing your needs in the midst of competing work demands, looking after others, once-in-a-lifetime career opportunities, etc. All the while telling yourself it’s “just for now”. “Just until this project is done!” “Just until I get the promotion.” “Just until we have less debt.”
There’s always a “just until”. This is why I choose to work with mid-career professionals, because there has never been so much at stake for you with so few resources to help carry the professional load while juggling your one beautiful and precious life. Because there are some other “just untils” … just until you’ve lost something, or someone, you cannot get back. Just until your body says “no”. If you’re doing full-time work as a professional today, you are more at risk of burnout than any previous generation. That’s not me being dramatic: (Women @ Work 2022: A Global Outlook, https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/burnout-survey.html).
There is a way to navigate working life without burnout; but there’s no quick course you can take, or any other kind of educational “magic bullet”, that prevents it. It’s something you, and only you, can attend to for yourself. SPOILER ALERT, professionals who are passionate about their work can be as much at risk for burnout as those who are disengaged. If you’re mid-career and concerned about burnout, I’m here to help.
Because I believe we are all in this together, and none of us is getting out alive. Enjoy your mid-career; make this one precious and amazing life you get the healthiest it can possibly be.
Being coached by Carleen I cultivated the ability to have compassion for myself, and learned to better appreciate myself, as well as the others around me. I am so grateful for our time together."