There is certainly a lot of talk about how difficult teaching is, but over the years you have managed to enjoy your profession with all its challenges, then suddenly it happens. You start to feel like there is just something missing, but you cannot seem to put your finger on it. You’ve hit a mid-career crisis. Suddenly you start questioning everything about your chosen profession, you do not want to stay in your position, but you also do not want to leave. You do not want a promotion and you are running low on creative ideas.
Luckily, you are not alone. Many other educators have experienced similar feelings. They are not burnt out, they have not suddenly started to hate children, they are simply stuck and experiencing what can be described as a mid- Career crisis. How do you identify a mid-career crisis and what can you do about it?
Here are a few signs that suggest you might be having a mid-career crisis:
You are Apathetic
You have no strong emotion about anything to do with your work or profession on an ongoing basis.
You debate options, but you take no action
If you find yourself debating which next steps to take to improve your professional life more, but doing nothing about them, then it is certainly time to change your behaviour and start doing something.
You feel like you are constantly on autopilot
You often catch yourself feeling like you’re running on autopilot with no goal in sight. This can be disheartening.
You have lost your joy and your purpose
You feel like there is no purpose to what you are doing, and you no longer enjoy it. The problem with a mid-career crisis is that you neither hate or love what you are doing. That lack of emotion sucks all the joy out of your days.
Here are a few things you can do to get through your mid-career crisis.
Recharging and rejuvenating
Consider taking some time off. Apply for leave and go on a relaxing holiday to clear your mind. Alternatively, take a few days off to stay at home and spend time with your loved ones. You’ve worked hard for several years, and now deserve some time to yourself. Sometimes a well-deserved break is all one needs!
Sit down and look back, reflect. What do you think has caused the slump? Is it stress at work, or is there some deeper underlying reason that has led to this state of affairs? Identifying the factors causing the slump is a prerequisite to addressing the problem.
You can rid yourself of that aimless feeling by setting small targets for yourself at work. Those would include finishing a report within a specific time frame or closing tasks that will help you regain your confidence and encourage you to move on to bigger goals.
Doing something new
It is entirely possible that the tedium of doing the same thing over and over again for many years, has now led to disillusionment with your career. To break the monotony, add some challenge to your job. Come up with a new project you can do with your students or even other members of staff.
Being ready to take hard decisions
If, after trying out everything, you are still unhappy, don’t be afraid to make a change. Find something better. Choose what you want to do wisely, plan and assess well, and take the plunge. It is better to take a risk in the hope of future happiness than being stagnant in misery.
The best way to pull yourself out of a mid-career crisis is to find a deeper meaning in what you do. Seek out fresh challenges, embrace new skills and find a mentor who can guide you. Join a professional learning community and connect with like-minded professionals.