This is one of the first blog pieces I wrote a few years back and I’m resharing today.
Work shouldn’t be hard. Challenging yes, but never hard in the sense that it fills you daily with dread, fear or stress. Too many of us fall into a pattern of accepting the latter as ‘just the way things are’, particularly when we hit the middle stage of our career. If this resonates with you then reigniting the fire for the work you do is important for both performance and success.
So, let’s take a step back to when you landed your first job. Likelihood you were fresh out of university or college and were about to start in what was being considered a ‘proper’ job. There were celebrations. You were making the first step into a career which you’d had a desire to get into for a while. Perhaps not your 8-year-old self’s dream of being a fireman, footballer or ballerina. Yet, a career which you’d felt drawn to for some time and which was igniting a fire inside. A career which was going to bring everything you associated with success and more. It was exciting!
For a long time, at every turn in our careers, we feel the fire inside us which energises us. We meet new people, get new experiences or find new challenges all which keeps us stimulated, fresh and interested. Effort, perseverance, motivation and action flow easily. The fire inside continues to burn and powers our performance.
Then as the days, months, years go on it can become a little harder. Everything starts to feel less new, exciting and it’s now repetitive and mundane. Challenges are frustrating rather than energising. The fire inside starts to fizzle rather than roar.
Yes, you can dig deep and find the energy to ‘perform well’ even when the fire inside is fading. Many do. However, the honest truth is the desire and the ability to perform any better than just ‘well’ is tough (even if this is only really understood and admitted in your subconscious for a long time).
It’s very natural to feel boredom after a period of time in anything we do and a lot of us get to a point in a career where we simply just feel uninspired with what we do. And do you know what that’s ok. What’s not ok is not accepting the fact and doing anything about it.
But that is easier said than done I hear you say.
It can take a while to admit we are out of love with what we do and even longer to admit it is affecting our performance at work and our life as a whole. Denial is easier than acceptance. I know because I’ve been there.
On the outside, I had everything to be proud of. I’d risen through the ranks of my marketing career pretty quickly, had status, experience, respect and I had managed to maintain a senior leadership role and have two children along the way. I was successful. But it was success on the outside and not inside. I remember being miserable, confused, lost, trapped (so many ways my mind described my situation) for a long time. Convinced there was no way out, no other route for me to take and this was my bed I had to lie in it. Wanting things to change but I with no idea how or which way to turn.
The day I realised enough was enough, was when I clocked I had developed a habit of taking a huge deep breath before I pushed open the door to the office. That deep breath was my coping mechanism to face what was inside, as it is to many people before they do something they really don’t want to do. There were other signs of course but this habit stood out – it was symbolic and was a simple mental and physical exertion of what deep down I was truly feeling. It was the final wake up call that I needed to face the reality of the situation. I was unhappy, not meeting my potential, my performance was suffering and I had hit a mid-career point which was saying ‘change is the only way forward’.
It was hard yet really simple at the same time to face the reality that I was at a mid-career crisis point and had to make changes.
Thoughts of failure, confusion, security and panic flowed over me I will not lie, but with every small step I took, it became easier, less fearful and more exciting.
My first step was to find a partner to help me face the fears, the uncertainties and the truths.
A coach who could help me make sense of my thinking and open my eyes to new perspectives of a world outside of my comfort zone. Someone who would not judge me and who could support me outside my normal ‘go-to’ set.
I quickly learnt not to think of where I found myself in my career as a crisis point. It was a natural point of reconsideration and re-alignment to what I needed and wanted out of life.
Getting back on track and reigniting the fire within for me was to start my own business. To take my experience, interests, strengths and re-channel these into a new career path.
However, a mid-career ‘bump’ doesn’t have to mean starting something completely new but can simply be achieved through changes to the way we think and ultimately behave where we are.
So if you feel the fire inside for the work you do is fading, notice the signs, admit it and don’t fear the change but embrace it. Take action. This way you will keep heading forward delivering your best and will attain the success you set out to achieve on day one of your career.
Find out how I can help you with Career Reboot my signature coaching taking you through reflection, recalibration and reinvention or re-engagement.