Common mid-career challenges and what to do about them


Challenges abound in the professional arena. Whether an individual is an executive with a lengthy track record of success or a newly minted graduate just starting out, the next challenge is never too far off. And for mid-career professionals, those challenges could be accompanied by uncertainty about the direction of their careers and what their next step should be.

Around the time they turn 50, many professionals face similar challenges that can lead them to question much about their professional lives. The following challenges won’t affect every person over 50, but recognition of them could help mid-career professionals make the most of their remaining years in the workforce.

Motivation: Professional motivation can wane by the time many professionals reach 50. At this point in their careers, professionals may have decades of experience in a given field, and some may have reached management level within their firms. That combination of lengthy experience and achievement can make it hard to stay motivated, especially for professionals who feel they’ve gotten as high up the ladder as they can get in their companies. In such instances, individuals can ask themselves what they want next. Identifying professional goals can provide the motivation to go and achieve them. That spark can reignite the passion that helped mid-career professionals get where they are today.

Hesitancy: Mid-career professionals often have significant obligations at work and at home. Individuals with a family may still have to provide for their children and save for costly college tuition. The pressure to provide for a family, coupled with responsibilities to colleagues at the office, can make some professionals hesitant to pursue professional changes that could positively affect their lives. Individuals who want to make a change but are hesitant to do so can devote considerable effort to finding a solution that won’t upset the apple cart. For example, professionals over 50 who feel a career change is in order can begin taking small steps to make that a reality. Doing so while continuing to work ensures personal and professional obligations are met and gets individuals on the road to change they think will provide more fulfillment than their current careers.

Underutilization: Mid-career professionals who feel they’re underutilized at work may feel helpless to remedy their situations. Some might not welcome the upheaval to their routines that a career change would require, while others may question the wisdom of seeking more responsibility at their current firms. In such instances, professionals can look for opportunities to do more. Offer to help when new work projects arise or mentor younger colleagues just starting out.

Mid-career challenges unique to their situations could await professionals over 50. Recognition of these challenges and a willingness to overcome them could lead to greater professional satisfaction.

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