The Mid Career Wobble - Crisis or Opportunity?

mid career wobble

A common concern I hear from employees, coaches, mentees and other industry peers is our approaches to mid-career wobbles.

When we start our careers we think of a ladder to rise to the top.

However, I was driving around the M25 a while ago and saw this symbol – which made me think about our careers in another way.

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The reality is that our careers are not a ladder but more like a pyramid with multiple starting points with the aim to progress to the top.

When we are at the bottom of the career ladder, we are one of many people, all in the same situation, all with a career plan and a goal in mind. We want to climb, that’s our goal, to reach the top. We almost have a single-minded determination and all roads lead to the top. It is a plan, our mission and our raison d’etre. And then we get there.

We reach the top, or very near it. We are where we’ve been so focused on reaching for the last twenty years. Understandably we are delighted, this is what we’ve been striving for and we get stuck in. But after a while, once we’ve got to grips with the role, there starts a feeling of, what next? This usually happens when we are in our 40’s to early 50’s. We’ve achieved our goals, we’ve made it, we should be satisfied but we realise that there are several years of a career left and so we start thinking, what now? Where do we go from here? What else is there to do? Do we have prospects? In reaching our goal, have we actually reached a dead end? It can be quite disconcerting. I’ve spoken to quite a few colleagues who have felt like this.

So back to my symbol – this is where my epiphany came – maybe the pyramid doesn’t stop there – but it inverts?

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With a wealth of experience – the one option now might become multiple options – and in fact – more and more people have portfolio careers where multi roles all at once – can be a reality.

Just think – consultant, coach, NED, Chair, advisor, trustee, employee, executive…

As we hit this mid-point – the opportunities just open out more in front of us.

More choice? Why Wobble?

Often this period is quite unsettling. Every goal we have set, every step we have chartered was leading to a point – a destination.

That destination has changed. Perhaps it’s multiple destinations. Often this is when we question the road we are on and what’s to do next.

Many articles have been written about this natural bell curve in our careers, where priorities change and the lines become blurred. Whilst this can be unsettling, this is the time to really embrace the choices – and opportunities that the early part of your career has created.

Pinnacle or Just the Next Step?

So, as we reach your pinnacle, don’t be afraid to look beyond the peak. Many new adventures and undiscovered goals lie beyond this peak. It’s just the next step into another exciting chapter of our careers.

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