Midlife “Reflection”, not Crisis



I was having a conversation with a friend this month about midlife individuals, looking for something new. I shared I didn’t like the “Midlife Crisis” label but felt for many it’s more of a “Midlife Reflection”.


The reason I don’t love the crisis term is that for most, people do not view their midlife career situation as a hardship. The definition of crisis is, “a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger” which for most this does not resonate.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics stated nearing 4 million American’s quit their job in May 2021 in a move called the Great Resignation. The COVID pandemic has given way for people to reassess their priorities which I believe is a great opportunity for “Reflection”.


What is Causing “Life Reflection”?


1. COVID: One Good Outcome of the Pandemic

COVID, as almost everyone can share, has allowed individuals to reassess their priorities. No field has been harder hit than the customer service industry.


Reeder Consulting has been busier this year than any other year which contributed to people having the opportunity to have a time out and take a hard look at their life, a gift that has never existed in our lifetime. Many have taken this opportunity to engage in formal career exploration and counseling, so they were prepared for their next chapter when things went back to the new normal. This allowed people to gain certifications, begin educational programs or redo their resume to target a new field with already existing skillsets.


2. Burnout

When a hamster is on a wheel, running non-stop, only after the wheel can’t move does the hamster realize how tired it is. COVID made the wheel stop and many professionals recognized how burned out they were. Burnout is defined as, “a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress”. Burnout is real. It can affect our health in ways our bodies don’t often realize until we are sick. And when that pain becomes too great, that’s when many people are ready to make a change. Working from home has shown companies it can be done, and “remote work” is now the most targets search filter on Indeed. When burnout occurs, having a fresh start, perspective or focus helps give clarity to our viewpoint. But I always encourage a comprehensive decision be made through career counseling, so the real issue of burnout can be addressed before making a jump into a new chapter of life.


3. Change in Values

Half of all of my clients are Midlife Reflection individuals. They have had careers that were often driven by the value at that time. The value could have been to make $150K a year. The value could have been to select a career that was influenced by family pressures at a young age. The value could have been to follow a passion that never led to a sustainable life. And lastly, a value can be, “I want to be happy” which is when I get the honor of working with many midlife reflection adults. I’m not a Pollyanna about the possibility of being happy. But it takes work and being strategic about how to map out this possibility.


When we reach an age of looking back at our life, we may feel we’ve never found our “thing” which as a career development counselor and specialist I sincerely believe is a great issue. The reflection gives context to our past, with great wisdom as we move into the next chapter of our lives. We know what we love and what we don’t. We have years of knowledge to put words to our life experiences. But here’s the caveat, very few people can determine what comes next without a professional because what can happen is a person jumps into a new field and is just as unhappy. I’m passionate about helping people truly understand options for their next chapter. Because without a career professional assisting, that’s where a crisis can occur.

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