Picture this. You are Rakesh, the Senior Delivery Manager in an IT Services giant. After a good 25 years of dedicatedly working for your organization, in July of 2023, you get called in to the HR’s office, and you are informed that you have got a pink slip due to layoffs and retrenchment.  You will be receiving a severance package and do not need to come into work from tomorrow onwards.

While the case might sound hypothetical- is it really? Anybody working in the Indian Corporate Sector will identify with this situation. With the world economy growth slowing down- is it just markets condition or global economy that is to be blamed for layoffs, or is there a deeper, more nefarious phenomena at play here?

Situations like this are deemed as Crisis- Crisis refers to a phase of danger wherein either things proceed towards worse or betterment. First coined by Elliot Jaques in 1965, this three-word phrase might sound a little alarming, but it could just simply mean re-visiting one’s goals, accomplishments & overall aspirations upon experiencing discrepancy in any aspect within one’s professional life during one’s Middle age.

In 2008 research, conducted by economists David Blanchflower & Andrew Oswal, suggests overall satisfaction follows a U-curved pattern starting with an upward movement in early age while degrading during the middle-age & then again taking an upward movement in the old age. Ample proof, that the mid-Age Crisis is very real, and you are either in it, have crossed it, or will encounter it in the next few years.

David Blanchflower & Andrew Oswal, circa 2008, well-being is U Shaped
  • Why Mid Age Crisis Occurs- A Broader Picture

Contrary to popular belief- Mid Age Career Crisis is not just due to factors pertinent to the individual. Let’s broaden the horizon of our discovery-

  • How an Individual is responsible for their Mid-Age Crisis
  • Signs
  • Challenges
  • Impact

Mid Age Crisis not only impacts the well being of an individual, but impacts personal relationships, people’s perception of the individual and long-lasting career implications amongst other things. Other impacts that exist:

  • Solutions
  • Having good social & emotional support:
  • Consulting career counselors/career coaches or a credible mentor or an expert or a friend or colleague or any trust-worthy & credible resource
  • Not over-committing on finances: foster alternative sources of income.
  • Managing Organizational politics
  • Overcoming monotony
  • Willingness to make changes by being flexible: A change at any time challenges the existing status quo & generates a lot of resistance initially (a concept which has been widely propagated by Kurt Lewin). However, a job enlargement in one’s existing Job or an up-skilling or a promotion that could be assuming certain novice or additional responsibilities or abdicating certain previous ones & adapting various new ones by means of Succession planning. This would not only enable the Mid-age professionals to thrive with a zeal, but also pave empty shoes to be filled by the “to-be mid-age aspirants” in one’s existing job.

Conclusion

Crisis is a common feeling to one’s existence, one’s career is no exception to it especially during one’s middle age of the lifespan. Identifying & acknowledging that it exists along-with its various signs & symptoms can enable us to be accepting of the various root causes that culminate such crisis. In this way, one can be more welcoming to the possibilities of dealing with the same through some of the probable solutions/interventions to deal with the Middle age crisis in the career in the long run. Remember to believe in the philosophy, “Uncertainty is the only thing certain in life”- Life is not what happens to you, but how you respond to it.