Midlife crisis? Don't hit the Big Three Panic
When you're midlife and mid-career, your crisis may come
from outside events, such as layoffs or illness. Other times
you've outgrown your life and want to move on.
Either way, you have no idea what to do next and, most likely,
no mentor for the journey. Nearly every midlife client, caught
in a crisis following many years of success, hits one of these
three panic buttons.
Button 1: Looking for a replacement for what you lost --
immediately. Just moved to a new city? Grab some friends.
Lost a job? Find another! I've met several people who signed
up for a service that promised to send out a thousand resumes.
They're a little embarrassed -- after all, they are successful
achievers, often prominent in their own fields.
Button 2: Looking for immediate answers to the question,
"What should I do?" Several clients tell me they've
spent hundreds of dollars on tests and assessments. At midlife,
the tests invariably demonstrate that you're very, very good
at what you are doing. Many assessments lack scientific validity
-- they're not much more than a quiz you'd take in a magazine.
Button 3: Choosing the first coach or counselor you come
across. If you feel like you've been traveling alone in the
wilderness, a sympathetic ear can be very powerful. And when
you're hesitating to take even a small step, a booming voice
of encouragement -- "Of course you can do it! You'll
be great!" -- can be a siren call. In her book, Finding
Your Own North Star, Martha Beck warns us to guard against
cheery promises of fast answers. The best counselors often
come across as cool and distant, she says.
Hitting the panic button can cost more than the fees you
pay in fees. My client Griselda reported a backlash from her
thousand-points-of-paper campaign: "People thought I
was desperate. One company thought someone had sent my resume
as a joke -- I was too prominent in my field."
Reginald regretted not only the money spent for assessments,
but also the feedback he received. "They told me I would
make a good engineer, which I am," he said. "But
they also suggested I pick an outdoor career. I'm not ready
to be a forest ranger!"
Clarissa had been fantasizing about quitting her job to start
a freelance publicity career. When her coach urged, "Go
for it! You can always return to the corporate world,"
she jumped. Six months later, she was broke and far removed
from her old world. She couldn't afford to hire a coach to
get her out of this disaster. "Next time someone urges
me to take a financial risk," she said, "they'd
better promise to pay my mortgage if they're wrong."
Bottom Line: Don't beat yourself up if you hit the panic
button. We've all been there. Take time to investigate your
options. What seems to be a straight-line highway can turn
into a bumpy back road that damages your vehicle and leads
you on a hundred-mile detour.
|Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D. is an author, career coach, and
speaker. She works with mid-career professionals who want to make a fast
move to career freedom. Visit her site http://www.movinglady.com
or call 505-534-4294.