What we used to call the mid-life crisis may becoming the post-pandemic crisis. There are some who suggest a mid-life crisis is only a ‘social construct’ but when you are experiencing the symptoms, it doesn’t feel like a social construct!
As we all know, many (perhaps most) companies scrambled to stay in business by enabling their workforce to work remotely – the experience of ‘work’ was changed dramatically.
To some, this change was welcomed and provided them the flexibility that they dreamed of.
I remember a CEO telling me that anyone who wanted to work from home would not be allowed because working from home was just a recipe for messing around and not getting anything done. If you wanted to play hooky, you asked to work from home in his mind. I bet he was shocked when the world went virtual and stayed productive.
On the other hand, I know people that social distancing, mask wearing, virtual meetings, and not being able to be around others, severely diminished their energy. It was crazy how challenging it was to them. Many of these people were extroverts that emotionally needed to be around people and the separation from others was killing them emotionally.
Some people have had an extremely hard time with work-from-home because of the had to help their children learn-from-home. The boundary between work and life are no longer clear and the feeling of burnout has never been more prevalent.
Are there similarities between a professional mid-life crisis and a post-pandemic crisis?
- Your career was on autopilot and now you might be willing to walk away from what you are doing.
- You feel more confused or unclear than before and you might be questioning everything. Not to mention; your inner critic seems be getting louder and louder.
- You normally have high energy but now find yourself at times, exhausted or lethargic; maybe it seems like you ‘hit a wall’, a lot of what you do seems like a chore.
- At times you may feel apathetic and sometimes you just don’t care as much as you used to.
- Your ‘plan’ is not working – you need a new plan but just going to another company doesn’t seem like it’s going to fix what’s missing.
In general, maybe you feel like you have lost your purpose or maybe never had one are at risk. It’s ‘normal’ to wonder if ‘that’s all there is’ but when you start to feel like you have not accomplished anything in your life and feel dissatisfied, it’s a full-blown personal crisis.
You don’t have to be a psychologist to know that a personal crisis can bring on anxiety and depression. Lifehack.org suggests that men who have experienced a mid-life crisis often can experience some or all of: “mood swings, sleeplessness or oversleeping, feeling stuck in a rut, thoughts about death or dying, and increased consumption of drugs or alcohol”.
Do you know someone who has some of these symptoms. How widespread is the problem? I don’t think there is any research yet, but it seems like we have a widespread problem.
We know that just doing what you have always done will probably result in the same situation that you are currently in. In a recent Forbes article said: “Some 34% of Millennials say they are planning to look for a new job with a different employer once the pandemic is no longer an issue, compared to a quarter of Gen-Xers and only 10% of Boomers.”
Can you fix the problem by switching jobs and/or companies? Maybe!
Maybe is not a great answer and it may be a reason many people are not immediately jumping ship. I spoke to someone yesterday who is getting 40% more pay, a three-year development plan at a company who seems more stable than his current company. Hard to not make a switch if this is the case. But the question still remains: is the problem fixed if you get a new job? I think the best answer is; yes but only temporarily.
The Pulse of the American Worker Survey by Prudential stated employees are looking for “more flexible schedules, advancement opportunities, and remote-working arrangements”. I disagree. Of course, we all would like to have more benefits but to me the missing ingredient is that people don’t know why they work.
The biggest reason people don’t like their job and are experiencing some form of ‘crisis’, is they don’t have a clear idea of their life’s purpose and how their work enables them to make the world a better place. If they knew their purpose and their work enabled them to accomplish their purpose, a lot of the noise and issues would go away or at least significantly reduce.
BOOM! The missing ingredient for most of us is we don’t have a clear purpose. Without it, the big challenges in life knock us down, throw us around, and make us crazy. The symptoms are what we talk about but deep inside of us is something that wants to improve the world and make a difference.