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Warning - mid-career slump ahead?

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After spending years building your career you’re probably starting to see your efforts pay off, with projects that challenge you, a growing professional reputation and chance of regular promotion.

Outwardly, it might look as though you’re ticking all the boxes. Yet how you feel might be a different story.

When you’re established in your career it’s not unusual to feel as if you’ve hit a plateau.

At RHL, we often talk to technical professionals who feel demotivated and ‘stuck’ in a mid-career slump - despite having CVs packed with impressive achievements and solid experience.

If you’ve realised you don’t feel as enthused about work as you used to, and seem to lose sight of where you’re heading, let’s look at some of the steps to take to feel satisfied by your career again.

Find out what’s causing it

You can’t bounce back from anything without pinpointing what’s causing you to feel dissatisfied at work.

Is it your job? The team you’re part of? Or is it the company you work for? Perhaps it’s a combination of all three.

Maybe the nature of your actual work might be the problem. After years of working along the same path, it’s not unusual to start finding everyday work slightly repetitive or not challenging enough.

Of course, everyone’s relationship with work is different and there’s no one-size-fits-all reason for a mid-career plateau. But drilling down into what the problem really is will help you see the best next move.

Make small changes

For some people, making small changes at work is all it takes to boost a sense of purpose and satisfaction.

These might be:

  • Refocusing on your milestones
  • Getting advice from a trusted mentor (or getting a higher-level mentor)
  • Deciding to inspire others by becoming a mentor
  • Seeking out new challenging projects
  • Changing your work routine
  • Refreshing your work network

Reassess your work environment

Of course, there are times when making these tweaks can’t distract from the fact that things are no longer a good fit.

The type of work environment you once felt engaged and stretched by might not feel challenging any more and you feel you can’t make the difference you want to.

Or maybe the kind of organisation you were once happy to be part of may no longer tick all the boxes.

At RHL, we often talk to stellar technical professional candidates who realise that their standards have changed as their career has developed. It might be that their values are no longer aligned with that company’s mission and purpose, for example.

Realise your comfort zone

It can be tempting to stay in an organisation that - if you’re honest - doesn’t suit you any more.

This is especially if job security and income are top of the list. Or if the set up is easy - you’ve got good work-life balance, an easy commute and a team you get on with.

But it’s crucial to take a step back and study where you are at the moment - and where you want to be.

The only way to keep growing personally and professionally is leaving your comfort zone.

Don’t just wait and see

There’s a big risk in realising you’re in a career slump, but hoping you naturally come out of it.

It’s crucial to see the signs and tackle them head on - whether that’s to get some help and talk to someone, or finding the right career direction.

You need to be decisive for the sake of your professional and personal development, as feeling lost at work can eventually cause you to feel disengaged and even resentful. That can lead to stress, burnout and problems with your mental health.

At RHL, we’re looking for talented technical candidates in a range of sectors every day - even those wanting to use transferable skills to make a lateral career move from another industry. Perhaps the time has come for a career pivot to open up a new chapter and get on the path to fulfilling your ambitions again?

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