Mid-life Career Crisis
When Lovely, Anila and I started WomenLead India, with the core objective of helping women in their leadership journey, we did not anticipate the extent of this phenomenon. As part of the group, we have women leaders from diverse backgrounds and industries. Some of them are struggling with career choices, some have already made the shift and are now enjoying the path they chose. Supporting them through this delicate phase of life has been an evolutionary phase for us. I felt called out to capture some of my learnings on how to successfully navigate this phase through this blog:
Connect with Self – stronger than before
We have this amazing leader in our group who not only manages a key portfolio in a media company, but is also a cancer survivor. The first thing which hits you when you meet her is her smile and infectious energy. She is searching for alternatives, but that has not impacted her personal confidence and energy in any way. At this stage, when you are sure about your strengths, your interactions need to reflect that. It helps to portray what you stand for as a professional, rather than conveying the dilemmas that exist.
Clarity on what you want in the Future
Let’s face it, by the time you are in the 40s, there is an innate need for not wasting time (if you still haven’t achieved all your dreams), because you think you don’t have as much time on your hands as you did in your 20s. Time becomes a precious commodity. And then the eternal dilemma arises – should one stick to areas of core competence OR take the big risk of making a career change? The contra perspective is – if you are stuck in something you are not enjoying and if you decide not to break free now, then when will you do it? At 60? Yes, you can- but probability reduces. However, the decision can not be a completely emotional one. Take time to think through the following questions:
- What are the key goals that you would like to achieve in the next 10 years and if you don’t achieve them, life would be meaningless? (write down whatever is critical, no matter how audacious / seemingly impossible)
- What are the activities you enjoy doing every day, which energise you? The best career option will be the one which lets you do the activities you enjoy regularly (2-3 days in a week) and takes you towards goals that really matter.
Clarity on Strengths
This point is linked to the paradigm of ‘self confidence’. Most of us end up equating ourselves to the roles we have played over a period of time – slotting ourselves as a great ‘Finance or Marketing or HR’ leader. However, if we really dig deeper into the professional success formula, it is a mix of ‘Innate Talents + Skills + Experience’. Skills can be further classified into ‘Transferable Skills’ (which are industry/function agnostic, for e.g. negotiation skills, analytical skills, problem solving skills, project management skills etc.) and ‘Non-transferable Skills’ (which are industry/function dependent for e.g core functional skills). It is critical to map ‘Innate Talents and Propensities’ (psychometric assessments like Extended DISC, Gallup StrengthsFinder etc. can help here) and ‘Transferable Skills’ as comprehensively as possible in order to evaluate and select alternate career options.
We have had members of our group reaching out to coaches/mentors/peers to discuss their dilemmas and finding a sounding board, which could help them choose the most fulfilling path. As a Coach, I have experienced the magic when you are able to voice your innermost thoughts to someone who is a trusted advisor and connect with powerful insights about who you are, and what you want. As someone said, ‘the door of happiness opens inwards, rather than outwards’.
Director at Sage Solutions Pvt Ltd
Gitanjali Saksena has graduated in commerce and done her MBE (Economics) from Delhi University. She has worked with IMRB International, Gallup Organization, Gallup Consulting and now is Director at Sage Solutions Pvt. Ltd. In her own words, having spent more two decades in the People Space, helping people achieve their dreams and creating a better environment wherein they can productively and satisfactorily engage themselves excites her. Her work relates to creating value driven organizations, helping leaders and managers create and drive a culture which maximizes potential utilization, and developing respect for self/passion to pursue dreams among individuals.