Get Past Your Midlife Expiration Date

Get Past Your Midlife Expiration Date

Get Past Your Midlife Expiration Date

Do you feel unmotivated about your work after being downsized, reengineered or merged out of a job? Have you lost your zeal for work and fear you are becoming jaded and cynical? Do you feel guilty about what work has done to you, and are you trying to find a new work-life balance? Are you burned out and looking to reorder your priorities? Do you find yourself looking back and asking, “Is this all there is?"

If you answered yes to all or most of these questions, then you, like many other people, have probably hit the midlife career wall. But don't despair -- you can get past this wall to renew your career. Here are eight ways to do so:

1. See Your Work with Fresh Eyes

It may be time to change the color and style of your glasses, because they could be fogging up how you see your job. Find ways to look at your work without a jaded bias. Rediscover how your job makes a difference and revisit why you chose your profession and its ideals in the first place. Become aware of whatever gives you wonder at work each day, and try to cultivate more of those qualities.

2. Figure Out What Really Matters to You

Remember to breathe, relax a moment and give yourself permission to reflect by noticing the rhythms of your work and life. What really matters to you at this point in your career and life? Is your life focused on those things, or are you going full-speed ahead in the wrong direction?

3. Find Ways to Play Again

Make a list of all of the things you loved to do as a child. These are likely to be your innate talents, so find ways to incorporate them into your work.

4. See Detours as Neither Positive nor Negative

Detours are intrinsic to the human experience. Every life is filled with twists and turns we hadn't planned. By the time we're in midlife, our careers may have taken turns we hadn't expected. While we obsess over a certain position or promotion, we may not see other avenues -- detours -- open to us that might prove fulfilling. Rather than curse these detours, consider them interesting possibilities and ask yourself where they may lead if you follow them.

5. Know that Courage Is a Choice

Even in the face of disappointments and a loss of idealism, choose not to lose heart. Look at the areas of your life and work that you're tempted to lose courage in right now. Decide in which areas you need courage to maintain your ideals.

6. Realize Your Job is Bigger Than You Think

Is it possible that whatever you are doing, your true work is deeper than you think? Believe it or not, you can save the world a little bit in every interaction you have and every role you play if you decide you want to. Rediscover the deeper purpose of your work. Each day ask, “How can I make someone's day?”

7. Know What Your Career Expects from You

Searching for what we can get from our careers is never as fulfilling as searching for what our careers might expect from us. Instead of asking, “What will work do for me today?” ask, “What can I give to work today?”

8. Work on Your Craft

A surefire prescription for losing your enthusiasm at work is to stop learning. When we are learning and deepening our craft, we often find ourselves reengaged in what we do. Identify one part of your job that you want to improve significantly. Make it a part of the job you care about. Try new and creative ways to do what you have been doing for years.

Whether you're in a career that needs renewing or undergoing a career transition, you may feel that you're close to your expiration date. But rediscovering joy in the realm of work is less about avoiding burnout or changing jobs than it is about reclaiming the joy of achievement and the belief that what we do matters.

[Dr. John Izzo, president and CEO of Izzo Consulting, based in British Columbia, is one of North America's most sought-after professional speakers, advisors and retreat leaders. A best-selling author, Izzo shares his insights and spiritual wisdom from more than 20 years in the personal development and lifestyle-change industry. This article is adapted from his book, Second Innocence: Rediscovering Joy and Wonder.]

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