Reframing the midlife crisis

Apparently it really is a thing. The midlife crisis is not just a cliché – one in four adults aged between 40 and 59 experience it. And, despite the stereotype that it’s a male thing, research shows that slightly more women than men go through it.

One of the triggers, according to Dr Oliver Robinson, a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Greenwich, can be feeling “locked in” to a job.

 “… it often revolves around the increasing pressure of work and feeling like you’re in a job that you don’t actually want to be in, but you’ve progressed up the ladder and it’s too late to jump off”.

As a career development coach, I see a lot of people in this age group who are looking to change their jobs or careers – but they are not necessarily showing up with the negative characteristics often associated with midlife crisis.

Certainly many are feeling stuck, and are lacking confidence to leap off the ladder, but we work through it and they’re soon keen to explore options. So I wasn’t surprised to hear Dr Robinson talk about a silver lining to the midlife crisis that makes you open to new things again.

In a radio interview earlier this year, Dr Robinson said people who were going through a midlife crisis were particularly curious about all kinds of things. “It was almost as though the crisis had somehow piqued their curiosity, even though it was a difficult time”.

There is an opportunity, then, to make the most of that ‘silver lining’. If you are feeling stuck in a job or career you no longer care about, it needn’t feel like a crisis. A career coach can help you get clarity about where you are now and where you want to be, identify the obstacles that might get in the way of making changes, and gain the confidence to transition into work that is more meaningful to you.

After all – better in the long run to channel that inquisitive yearning for newness and change into something healthy and positive, than taking the clichéd solution of having an affair or buying that expensive convertible!


Lucy Sanderson-Gammon, MBA, is a career development coach, trainer and consultant. She helps mid-career professionals who have fallen out of love with their jobs to find work that is meaningful to them – at a time in life when they have more choices open to them than ever before. Find out more about Lucy's coaching services here.