Are You Feeling The Mid-Career Blues?

By Gerald Walsh ©

At mid-career, it’s not uncommon to question if you are in the right job, and wonder “Is this all there is?”

As you ponder your career, you likely recall aspirations you had about making a difference in people’s lives—doing work that had real purpose.

But that was before “life” happened: kids, mortgages, marriages, obligations.

And while making money used to be very important to you, you now find it is less of a motivator.

You also begin to question why you spent so much time on career advancement—building those marketable skills needed to get better jobs and promotions. For what?

Now, most of your day is spent dreaming about doing something else—a job that would be really fun. Staying in the same job for another fifteen or twenty years seems unbearable.

What you’re really feeling is: boredom, exhaustion and restlessness.

What you really want is a change.

What should you do?

1. The first thing to remember is that you are not alone. Many people feel a level of discontentment at mid-career. Midlife is often the time when thoughts of our own mortality begin to creep in. Significant career growth from this point on is unlikely and we begin to realize that time is finite.

2. Try to isolate the real source of your discontentment. Is it your organization or your job? Is it your boss or co-workers? Is it your long hours? Do you need more purpose in your work? Or do you simply feel like you need a change? 

3. Take personality and aptitude tests to understand yourself better. If you are like most people, your busy schedule has likely prevented you from taking a deep look inward. These tests will help you identify skills, strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and interests and could suggest career possibilities you might not have thought were possible before. StrengthsFinder by Gallup is a good tool to use.

4. Consider making small changes in your current job. Before looking for a new job, consider how you might change your own circumstances. A different work arrangement, a more flexible schedule, or added help, might be all you need to feel rejuvenated.

5. Develop a list of the most important things you need in a job to be fulfilled. This is always a fun exercise. Consider these items and rank them from most important to least important.

Meaningful work


Job security



Physical location



Company size

Good boss


Status and title

Opportunity to learn new things

Type of work

Scope of responsibility

Opportunity for advancement



6. List the transferable skills you could apply in another job. Yes, the thought of making an actual job change is intimidating. But you have a lot of skills to offer others. Many people make successful transitions into very different jobs by identifying and marketing their transferable skills: sales people become fundraisers; corporate managers become not-for-profit executive directors; and lawyers become teachers. A career coach can help here.

7. Create a list of jobs you would love to do—assuming money was not an obstacle. For sure, this activity might seem impractical at first. The thought of giving up steady income, nice benefits and job security is frightening. But it will help you to isolate characteristics of a job that excite you.

8. Finally, seek advice from experts in a field you are considering. Contrary to what you might think, you will find that people are willing to share their thoughts and opinions on your career options. Their advice could be invaluable.

Final thought. If you are mid-career and feeling bored, exhausted and restless, my recommendation to you is to explore your options and determine if you can make a move. You only have one career—and it is short—so make the most of it.


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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career. You can follow Gerry on Twitter @@Gerald_Walsh