Money & Careers

On the Bright Side: Reinvention—at Midlife, Small Changes Go Far

Thriller BIllustration: Cecilia Martin

There have been many articles about the benefits of “reinventing yourself” in midlife. If that dictum seems overwhelming (and it does to me), there are other ways to achieve the same goal. Sometimes it can just be a matter of “turning a page,” adding a new element, or simply re-examining your path.

Whatever you call it, it turns out that changing things up can have a good effect. This is especially true of those who are not happy in the workplace. According to Barbara Bradley Hagerty, writing in The Atlantic, ennui is very common, but can get worse in midlife for those who don’t feel “actively engaged” in their work. This effect, as measured by Jim Harter, a Gallup pollster who is Gallup’s chief scientist for workplace management, can be even greater among the highly educated, possibly because they begin their careers with higher expectations.

Hagerty’s advice (the short version) is to “quit your job.” The more disconnected you are from a sense of “purpose,” a life lived with what Aristotle called eudaimonia, the less likely you are to be happy with your lot. This becomes truer in midlife when we reach the stage of life identified by the legendary psychologist Erik Erikson. This is a time when we become less self-centered and more other-directed. As we age, it is natural to want to mentor the next generation, or, at least, leave the world a better place for them. And with the passage of time, the feeling that we are not accomplishing something meaningful can be troubling.

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  • Deborah Robinson April 5, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    Excellent article and lots of food for thought!

    Reply