Midlife Career Reflection: What Am I Working For?

Midlife Career Reflection: What Am I Working For?There’s a certain point around midlife when we have a change in perspective about work. We stop long enough to wonder, “What am I working for?”

Sometimes we realize that what we might have wanted at an earlier stage in life is not what we want now. Perhaps choices about work and career that we made in the past no longer work for us.

Sometimes this reflection is a result of pure exhaustion. Perhaps you’ve hit burn out. Or, you realize that, if you stay on your current path, you will burn out.

I’ve spent too much time doing work I don’t care about (or that just doesn’t feel like a fit for me), giving it all my energy in order to “succeed”, then having nothing left for what really matters to me.

It’s at this point when it makes sense to consider what success means to YOU. Forgetting what anyone else thinks or expects, what does success look and feel like to you? Is it measured in dollars or job titles or designer clothes or a large property that you have to come up with mortgage payments for?

To me, this question is where to start when considering midlife career changes. This is the time to create your ideal lifestyle from the inside out. To get creative about your possibilities. To kick convention to the curb.

Midlife is a time to focus on your freedom. Not to drearily count down the days until you can finally retire and start living the life you really want. You deserve to be happy now.

And for introverts, considering possibilities must be grounded in the truth of your energy needs. You must get clear about the specifics of what drains your energy and what recharges you.

Without this critical piece, I don’t think it’s possible to be fully happy in your work. That’s because, even if you love what you do, you can still end up feeling drained and having nothing left for the other parts of your life that matter.

In some cases, these questions will lead you to consider making significant changes in the work you choose to do next. In others, you may realize that what you do still feels good, but you want to tweak HOW you will do it moving forward.

“Change means movement. Movement means friction. Only in the frictionless vacuum of a nonexistent abstract world can movement or change occur without that abrasive friction of conflict.” ~ Saul Alinsky

Will it be easy to make the necessary changes to create a lifestyle that feels like a better fit for you? Of course not. It can be difficult to give yourself permission to even start asking the questions (you may be afraid of the answers that will surface).

But if you’re like me, you have a deep knowing – an inner nudge – letting you know that it’s your time. It has probably been there for a while.

When you’re ready to start accepting your truth so you can make changes that allow you to do work that is more in alignment with who you are and what you want now, I’m here to help you.

Consider this: What discomfort is arising in you as you read this post? That discomfort is a message. Don’t keep ignoring it.

8 thoughts on “Midlife Career Reflection: What Am I Working For?”

  1. I did this very thing seven years ago – took a look round and realized I needed a change. Call it a midlife crisis, but a reinvention and new career were the best things I could have done for myself. Scary – you betcha! Worth it – absolutely!

  2. So many of us women made career choices long ago based on what others wanted for us or told us we should do. Midlife is the time for us to make more conscious career choices. That starts with knowing who we are at this stage of life and what we truly want. For me success is about giving back in a more meaningful career as a midlife woman’s career coach. Along with it, my entire outlook on life has become so much better.

    1. Thanks for your comment Diane. I think we would both agree that, unfortunately, there’s still a lot of ‘shoulds’ showing up in career decision making. And with so many options available now, it can be hard to choose. Living and working with integrity is so important – adding meaning to the mix (plus a lot of courage) goes a long way. The more women we can encourage to make choices that feel true for them, regardless of age, the better we’ll all be. Sharing the journey 🙂

  3. Well said Marla. The inner work you’re talking about is so important, right along with taking the time to become clear about our values and the rules we live by. To me success is being able to live your life the way you want to and while I rarely give much thought to it I suppose my being an Introvert has something to do with that definition. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. I absolutely agree with the points you made in your blog. At 53, I can’t really call myself middle-aged anymore (unless I plan to live to be 106), but I believe in the idea of embracing change. Why not act on midlife wisdom and make deliberate variations to keep up with our ever-changing needs and goals? Maybe something that was right for us in the past just doesn’t work for us anymore. Change can be a great way to bring excitement and adventure to our lives. Change can open up new paths we never considered that may lead to happiness, contentment, and fulfillment. We can so easily get stuck in a rut, but we’re never too old to make changes to better our lives.

    1. Thanks for your comment Julie and I love your positivity…reminds me of Barbara Sher’s expression, ‘second childhood’…time to put joy back into the equation. No better time than now 🙂

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