Dealing with the mid-career doldrums: Is it time for a change?

Posted On April 12, 2018

Are you tired of your job? No, I mean really tired – to the point of throwing away a career of twenty-some-odd years and starting over?

You may be suffering from a fairly common phenomenon I call the mid-career doldrums. You’ve been doing the same job for a couple decades, you’re bored, and the achievements that once thrilled you don’t move the needle for you anymore.

You crave something new, but stepping away from the familiar into the unknown can be scary. Can you make the leap? Should you?

My guest in this episode of “What’s Working With Cam Marston” took the plunge, giving up a lucrative and successful career in the financial industry to start a somewhat less lucrative but just as successful career in broadcasting. Jill Schlesinger grew up around finance as the daughter of a trader and went to work on Wall Street as a commodities option trader. She thought she was doing what she was destined to do.

“I thought I would love this career so much,” she said, “and I wasn’t really that happy.”

So she left. She made a change – a couple of changes, actually – that took her from Wall Street to becoming a partner in a financial planning and investment firm in Providence, and finally, to CBS News, where she now uses her expertise to put financial stories into perspective for viewers. After an initial foray into the news business through TV and the internet, Schlesinger now also hosts a radio show and podcast, does speaking engagements and is writing a book.

How did she do it? The first step, she says, is to be open to trying new things.

In this episode, Schlesinger shares some questions to ask yourself if you’re contemplating changing careers:

  • Are you financially prepared for it?
  • Could a “side hustle” cure your boredom? Or is there something else you could do within the company where you already work?
  • How would you go about finding a new career? Have you developed contacts and relationships that could help?
  • Is your discontent with your work really just a symptom of some other problem?

For Schlesinger, the answer was using the expertise she’d gained through a career as a trader and financial planner and using it in another way. She found fulfillment in being around so many bright colleagues who trust her news judgment and expertise, and in relating complex financial stories to a wider audience.

“Although I don’t make as much money as I did previously,” Schlesinger says, “I’m still sometimes surprised that I just don’t care.”

The right move is not always up, Schlesinger says. Be careful about trying to micromanage your career. Make real connections and be open to opportunities, even if they’re outside our comfort zone.

Categories: Financial Services, Generation X, Podcast, Work