From time to time, we all experience feelings of boredom, dissatisfaction or even exasperation in our jobs. Most of us muddle through, knowing these feelings ebb and flow, as they often do throughout a long career. But what should you do if those feelings persist and grow stronger with each passing week? When you are longing for change and beginning to resent work, you might be on the road to a professional midlife meltdown. In other words, you’re approaching career burnout.
You realize it’s important to be careful in this situation. You’ve probably known people who faced a similar dilemma and took leave, not only of their senses but their jobs as well. These restless souls decided suddenly to resign and jump without looking. Gutsy and a bit foolish, yes? But that’s not you. At least you don’t want it to be.
Well, what can you do to keep from going through this type of crisis? Let’s break it down. There are five steps you can take to avoid a midlife meltdown, thus saving your career, relationships, and mental state.
#1. Acknowledge Your Feelings
As the old saying goes, “Perception is reality.” You don’t need anyone else to validate your emotions or tell you that you’re wrong. There’s a reason for your angst or malcontent, even if you haven’t discovered what it is yet. Let the feelings flow, and you may discover the cause of or solution to your problem.
#2. Add a Few Minutes of Mindfulness to Your Routine
Mindfulness is a therapeutic technique used by successful professionals to avoid stress, negativity, and frustration. When you focus awareness on the present, it becomes impossible to dwell on the regrets of your past or the worries of your future. Meditation, yoga, and relaxation exercises are all popular forms of mindfulness. Consider adding one or more of these activities to your daily regimen to stave off a midlife meltdown.
#3. Determine if the Situation is Temporary or Not
Once you have accepted and pondered the situation for a while, consider whether it’s a temporary irritation or one that’s bound to continue. How long are you willing to tolerate the current state of affairs? If your job is unbearable or you dread Monday mornings, it might be time to make a plan or take action and make positive changes.
#4. Investigate a Different Career
Do you daydream starting a more fulfilling career? If so, check out this epic list of potential jobs and resources: 11 Midlife Career Change Ideas that Don’t Suck. These positions take less than two years of education and pay a starting salary of 40k – 76K. You may discover a more satisfying professional life is not out of reach.
#5. Plan to Become the Entrepreneur You’ve Always Wanted to Be
If, however, you long to start a side-hustle or become a full-time entrepreneur, you will need to do some investigation and devise a plan. Do you know what type startups to consider? If so, have you researched your competition? How much money can you get your hands on to fund a potential business? How long can you afford to go without a steady income?
All are critical questions to answer before leaving your current position. Check out this basic guide from the Small Business Administration to help you start a business plan. While some people don’t think a structured plan is critical to success, I firmly believe even a shortened version can save you thousands of dollars and countless headaches throughout the first few years of your startup.
Following these five steps regarding your career can help you steer clear of a midlife meltdown. You can have a satisfying professional life again. But it will take patience, research, and commitment. Let’s face it, anything worthwhile does!
Remember, life is better when we lift each other up.
Randi Levin has helped hundreds of fledgling entrepreneurs avoid fear and overwhelm in their business lives throughout the years. She is a nationally recognized life strategist, author, keynote speaker, and reinvention expert. As an advocate for professional women, she coaches them through successful and powerful life transitions.
I recently interviewed Randi about the most common struggles women face when starting and managing a small business. Topics ranged from fear and overwhelm to productivity and time management to self-worth. I am confident you will be able to relate to this important discussion.
Life Wise Lady: When a woman wants to start a business or take an existing one to the next level, how can she get the ball rolling and skip feeling stuck?
Randi: We do tend to stop ourselves right at the door with a lot of excuses and reasons why not. The first thing you should think of doing is getting your feet wet. If you’re coming out of corporate and into private, that’s a very scary place. Ask a lot of questions. Is there someone you could shadow or a course you can take? You have to be able to see yourself in that new business.
Life Wise Lady: Sometimes an entrepreneur is intimidated because of her lack of experience with technology, social media, or some other process. How can she avoid getting caught up in anxiety and insecurity?
Randi: My favorite quote is “Say yes now and figure it out afterward.” We get in our own way. Nothing is ever really perfect. If we hang around waiting to launch the perfect product, business, or website, we are passing on developing ourselves and stepping into our business. Step into the thing that scares you the most. We all feel fear. Go! Trying things is so much more worth it than not.
“Step into the thing that scares you the most.”
Life Wise Lady: An overwhelmed businesswoman often experiences frustration and is tempted to multi-task. What tips do you have to help her stay focused and calm?
Randi: It goes back to that old issue of balance. It’s something I talk about all the time. The reality is we’re not balancing multiple things. We are balancing one thing – ourselves. What are we letting in our lives and what are we letting go of? We need to shift our view of balance and ask ourselves if we are fulfilled. We do have to pick and choose. Are the things we are working on and surrounding ourselves with the things we love? When you answer that truthfully, that’s when it all starts to fall into place.
Life Wise Lady: What time of day do you think a professional woman should take on her most challenging tasks and why?
Randi: I think it’s morning because we are refreshed. If you’re talking about business tasks, always go after the ones that deal with money first. If there is something that’s dealing with your service to a client, handle that task before the others.
Take a look at your to-do list. We are all guilty of adding small tasks so we can cross them off quickly. If you had three to five really key things to accomplish, you would have a better chance of actually doing them. Put in front of you what is doable.
Life Wise Lady: What strategies do you recommend to a woman who is overwhelmed in her professional life?
Randi: Give yourself some space. If you feel as though things are going south for you or you’re stressed, allow yourself to pause. And not necessarily for a moment. Break away from the stressors and regroup. We have so much coming at us. Take a lunch. Put the phone away.
The other piece is to stay connected. We are so connected by social media and through texts and phones. We have moved away from the in-person connections. So, bringing those back into our day takes away stress and allows us to be human.
“Break away from the stressors and regroup.”
Life Wise Lady: What causes the fear of failure and how can women overcome it?
Randi: People often won’t start something or won’t finish something unless it’s perfect. A lot of New Year’s resolutions stop because they seem like too big a mountain to climb. Reassess what you said. Who is the one who said they were going to lose weight or get three new clients? It was you.
I’m all about growth versus goals. Have the goals and the destination in mind, but what is the process? When you track your success it’s a little bit easier to get to the end result and failure seems a little less imminent.
Life Wise Lady: An entrepreneur might tend to feel like a fraud or have difficulty accepting praise or accolades. How can she move past these insecurities?
Randi: In business, people say, “Fake it until you make it.” There are certain times when we have to take a leap of faith. When we step into a relationship and get married, it’s all new. How do we know how to be married? We step into that and learn as we go. When we allow ourselves to feel like imposters, we are not giving ourselves credit for living and for all the things we know and have accomplished.
Maybe you don’t have the ten years of experience someone else has, but you have other skills that they don’t. There is something in your history that got you to do what you’re doing now. If we own our story a little bit more, all of it, we can project why we are doing what we are doing. Your experiences are to be celebrated and highlighted. The minute you take yourself seriously, people are going to take note of that.
Life Wise Lady: When should a businesswoman seriously consider hiring a coach like yourself to solve a problem or achieve a higher level of success?
Randi: The first thing is to be aware and understand when you feel stuck. Question yourself. Should I get some help? Is what I’m doing not working?
Sometimes, as women, we will go out with friends and unload our problems and our friends want to help us. So, they tell us what to do. If you do that, you’re probably going to wake up the next day and not take any of their advice. Even if you do, it may not work. The reason is that these solutions are not yours. They are your friends’ solutions.
Coaching allows you to come up with your own answers and solutions to the things that are going on in your life. We take actions on the stuff that is our own. If you’re getting at the right things, in a few months your perspectives are going to shift and you’re going to be taking action in your life. Having a coach is very rewarding. It’s a gift that you give yourself.