Quit Your Job

Source: Quit Your Job
Author: Barbara Bradley Hagerty

Is it possible that our inner psyche knows what is best for us, even though it does not make sense on the outside? With regard to a career and the dissatisfaction that may begin to culminate at midlife, is it possible a change could be a good and natural process for health in both mind and body?  Author Barbara Bradley Hagerty thinks so. In fact, she supports the idea that a shift in career about midlife can be advantageous for cognition, overall wellness and even longevity.

In her article Quit Your Job, she explains that there is way to navigate through the tumultuous mid-life career years by identifying your strengths, finding purpose, interviewing others, changing a career moderately, and not being afraid to learn difficult lessons.

There are three categories of workers which are in the workforce today.  The author explains that the first category of workers includes those who are happy, engaged and challenged by their work, which uses their natural talents. But according to a Gallup poll, only one-third of Baby Boomers and Gen X enjoy such a fulfilling work and career environment.

The second category includes employees that are characterized as “not engaged”–meaning they come to work and do the minimum work required in order to simply collect their paycheck.  They are not growing, striving or investing energy and time into the success of their career or the company.  This category accounts for one-half of the working population of GenX and Baby Boomers.

These first two categories of “engaged” and “not engaged” may be harmless, but it is the third category that exacts such an emotional and physical toll on its subjects that their actual health is in jeopardy—namely higher reports of physical pain and elevated levels of stress, cortisol and blood pressure as well as depression and sickness.

Why does midlife crisis occur?

The author cites several research studies that indicate higher educated workers may have higher expectations for life goals and career achievements, as well as possibly overestimating future happiness.  When those are not realized, the disappointments are also greater.  Research also shows that generally one’s contentment, which dips in the mid-40’s, will often flourish in the 50’s and 60’s when one’s future happiness is often underestimated. It is a time of life when a person’s perspective shifts from focused on self to focused on others and on their needs as well as how to leave a legacy.

What does this suggest about how to survive or even avoid the tumultuous years of mid-career crisis?

The author suggests that there is a strong relation between happiness and finding a sense of purpose. Finding purpose may help guide one to

  • Make a moderate job change either within a profession or existing company, or
  • Work at a side company,
  • Volunteer to get a test if the work is what you truly like to do
  • Take a class while still maintaining a main career, may be better than the extreme of abruptly quitting.

The author suggests the best way to navigate is through interviewing others, testing the waters and pivoting on your strengths will propel one through the mid-life uncertainties and into a more content career and happier emotional state.