Read This Before You Get Stuck in a Mid-Career Rut

Share This:

Key Terms:


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 Harvard Business Review study 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 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 are 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Practice deliberately. Apply what you learn to your daily work. Set goals for increasing your productivity and accomplishments.
  7. Review yourself regularly. Evaluate your career at least once every six months. Update your resume and social media profiles. Set specific goals for yourself.

Work/Life Co-Existence (Balance is not usually feasible)

  1. Practice self-care.You are more likely to have a successful career if you make your personal well-being a top priority. Eat a nutritious diet, exercise regularly, and stick to a consistent sleep schedule.
  2. Strengthen your relationships. Spend time with family and friends. Build a network of support with loved ones who know you and care about you.
  3. 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.
  4. Deepen your spirituality. Connect with something larger than yourself. Clarify your values and purpose in life.
  5. Work smarter. Free up more time and energy for the things that matter to you. Plan your week 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.
  6. Lighten up. You can enjoy life while taking your responsibilities seriously. A cheerful attitude may even help you to achieve more. Take frequent breaks and see the humor in difficult situations. Turn household chores and office paperwork into a game.

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 making smaller adjustments in how you approach your current position and daily life.

about author

Karie Barrett
Karie Barrett

Karie is a results-obsessed marcom, design, and analytics professional with proven success leading corporate marketing, internal communications, and business strategy development for companies across diverse commercial and nonprofit industries.

subscribe to newsletter

Want to join the list of people who get alerts about new content and offers? Sign up here!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.