Midlife crisis? A mentor can help

Posted on Posted in Career Strategies

People are, on average, living longer. Advances in healthcare, technology and what we know about staying active and healthy has had a positive impact on our lives. The average person in the Western world has a rising life expectancy. This is good news but it may also mean that our midlife period will last longer. Causing many of us to re-evaluate what we’re doing more often. It’s linked to why we feel it’s time to move on to something different.Notions of the midlife crisis are not a new phenomenon; they’ve been a consistently discussed topic since 1965 when the psychologist Elliot Jacques coined the term in an article called ‘Death and the Midlife Crisis.’ The article suggested that this was a period where people looked back on their life, analysed what they had achieved (or failed to achieve), while also projecting their future life. Being in a position where you could only look forward as far as you could look back brought a sense of mortality. It’s understandable why people would suffer a crisis of confidence or question what to do next.

Understanding the midlife transition

In Carl Jung’s 5 stages of midlife transition, a person goes through:1. Accommodation2. Separation3. Liminality4. Reintegration5. IndividuationIn simple terms the process begins with accommodation. It’s the youthful part of life where you act in a way that meets the expectations of others. In the separation phase, that’s when you start to reject that notion. In liminality you experience a period of doubt where life can have little or no meaning. The reintegration process is when we start to figure out who we are. The individuation phase sees us coming to terms with self, even those aspects of life that we don’t enjoy or approve of.

Moving past the liminality phase

Before you can make changes, you need to want to make changes. You need to question what you currently do. It’s why we suggest it’s probably the best time to reach out to a mentor. It’s at that stage that you might feel as though you’re stuck or have reached a natural level. Symptoms of this phase could include being overlooked for promotions at work or although you’ve had a promotion you feel undeserving of it or there might be a disconnection from the younger generation. If you are used to success but feel as though you’ve reached a level where future success is limited or you no longer know what is required to continue to advance your career, a mentor can provide you with fresh impetus.There is always a great deal to be said for receiving help from others. A mentor though, can offer much more than acquaintances can for your career. A reliable mentor will have knowledge and experience of the situations you face. They would have made their way beyond the midlife malaise that you now feel. Having progressed from the liminality stage into the reintegration stage themselves, they are best placed to help you in your journey.

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