How to Avoid Getting Stuck in a Mid-Career Rut


After you’ve been working for 20 years or more, it’s natural to assume that you know how to manage your career. However, a study by Harvard Business Review found that mid-career professionals need help if they want to avoid being undervalued and overworked.


The researchers found that professionals between the ages of 40 and 48 were the group most likely to make work decisions that led to less-than-successful outcomes. This was partly due to the pressures of keeping up with daily demands and feeling stressed about making changes. Employees often felt trapped between the need to innovate and the fear of being penalized if they took risks that didn’t produce quick gains.


If you think you’re heading into a rut, there are many ways to recharge your career. Try these suggestions for dealing with fear and boredom and achieving more balance in your life.


Dealing with Fear and Boredom:


  • Focus on strategy. Distinguish between leading and managing. Think about the purpose and impact of your work as well as how to get it done. Look for opportunities to influence and inspire others.

  • Ask for feedback. Let your colleagues know that you value their opinions and advice. Thank them for their input and use it to enhance your performance.

  • Cultivate your network. Warm up old contacts and reach out to new ones. Schedule at least one coffee date or business lunch a week. Join committees at your professional association and attend networking events.

  • Start a club or meetup. Put together a group that will interest and inspire you. Maybe it is a business book club, or perhaps it’s a monthly lunch focused on a different topics, within your company or with industry peers. Whatever you choose, think of something that will engage and recharge you.

  • Find a mentor. Find someone you trust with expertise in areas that interest you. Remember that mentoring can be helpful at any stage in your career.

  • Continue learning. Sign up for training sessions at work and browse online for certification courses. Subscribe to industry publications and discuss them with your colleagues.

  • Practice deliberately. Apply what you learn to your daily work. Set goals for increasing your productivity and accomplishments.

  • Review yourself regularly. Evaluate your career at least once every six months. Update your resume and social media profiles. Set specific goals to strive for.


Creating Work Life Balance:


  • Practice self-care. You’re more likely to have a successful career if you make your personal wellbeing a top priority. Eat a nutritious diet, exercise regularly, and stick to a consistent sleep schedule.

  • Strengthen your relationships. Spend time with family and friends. Build a network of support with loved ones who know you and care about you.

  • Maximize your leisure time. Use your hours outside the office wisely. Develop a hobby that challenges and relaxes you. Participate in cultural activities and team sports. Sign up for a class in something new.

  • Deepen your spirituality. Connect with something larger than yourself. Clarify your values and purpose in life. Pray, meditate, or read inspiring texts each day. Create intentions to stay focused on what matters to you.

  • Work smarter. Free up more time and energy for your outside interests. Plan your week in advance and coordinate errands. Leverage technology to complete tasks faster. Figure out the times of day when your performance peaks and use those hours to focus on your top priorities.

Your mid-career years can be an exciting time to learn and grow. You can make dramatic changes like changing jobs or starting a new business or make smaller adjustments in how you approach your current position and daily life. Whatever you choose, do it consciously. Jump off the hamster wheel and take some time to think about what will move you forward.

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© 2018 Amy Kan