Are you living your best life?
If you’re not sure, use my blog about 5 Steps to Define Your Own Success to evaluate what matters to you and how you’re working to achieve your own version of success.
Once you know how to define success in a way that is meaningful to you, you can use your Success List to guide your career decisions.
Whether you’ve been working for years, or are just getting started, regrets can always set in.
We often think about the “what-ifs” and convince ourselves that the grass is truly greener in another job, but this isn’t always true.
Really quickly, I’ll go over the most common mid-career regrets:
- Not Designing Your Own Life: Listening to other people’s advice instead of your own desires.
- Not Investing in Yourself: Take the time to invest in your knowledge, health and soul.
- Missing Out on Moments: A Work-life balance doesn’t always lead to happiness, think through the moments of your life that you’re happy to be at work, and the moments you want to experience outside of work.
- Not Being Authentic: Being too focused on other people and how you are perceived instead of learning more about who you are and what you believe in.
- Searching for Happiness Instead of Creating It: Learning about your authenticity will help you learn how to create happiness in your life.
- Letting Fear Prevent Change: Doing your research and thinking through decisions is good, but letting fear keep you from making that leap is not a risk you should take.
- Not Addressing Toxic Situations and People: Time is your most valuable asset and spending it in situations or with people who don’t build you up is a waste of your valuable time.
- Being Trapped Around Money: Save up a cushion of savings that can last you 6-9 months of unemployment to help temper the fear you may have around changing your career.
My Tips to Avoid Mid-Career Regrets are:
1) Continue to strive for growth
Even if you love what you’re doing, at some point you are going to have to put in hard work. It might be work that challenges you mentally, physically or emotionally, but it will challenge you.
You may think you want an easy job, or just to turn your hobby into a paid gig, but waking up each morning and looking forward to the day ahead often comes from experiencing continued growth through challenges.
Even something you love can become difficult when you turn it into a job, because when you do an activity all day long and depend on it for survival, the playfulness can disappear quickly.
Continue to strive for grow in your career in personal, professional, and spiritual ways.
Personal growth can come from trying to be early into work on a regular basis, or getting along with a co-worker who knows how to get under your skin.
If you’re a workaholic, personal growth can also come from learning how to find a better balance between your work life and life outside of work.
Professional growth can come from a mentor, and if you don’t have one yet, I highly recommend seeking one out.
Related: Bootstrap – Why Mentorship Matters
Professional growth can also come from company lunch-and-learns, reading books or blogs about topics you’re interested in knowing better, going to conferences, or enrolling in continued education courses.
Spiritual growth can come from starting your days with gratitude and meditation, or finding time at work to have a quiet mind to centre yourself.
Whatever your personal journey is, you can make room for spiritual growth in your career.
2) Take More Risks
Naturally, our brains are designed to keep us safe. Taking risks of any kind can feel dangerous, even if the “danger” isn’t as real as it seems.
Our aversion to take risks is our brains way of trying to maintain a status quo, keep us in our comfort zone and feel safe. However, it is also what causes us to be stuck, resist growth and thus fall short of meeting our full potential.
Do your research and seek out advice from mentors/peers/family you trust, but in the end you need to make your own decision based on what you know is right for you.
When we ask for other people’s opinions they sometimes project their fears onto us in a bid to keep us safe.
Being authentic and designing your own life may not come easy, but part of living your destiny and not your shadow career is being able to live with and even embrace uncertainty.
If you know that it is time for you to move on, to learn something new, to change your career direction or to start your own business, you will not be fulfilled until you take action.
3) Make Lateral Moves for Happiness
As a society, we are obsessed with climbing the corporate ladder.
Sometimes moving sideways, onto a new ladder, will bring you much more happiness and fulfillment.
Take time to look up; where is your career heading, and does that bring you excitement or apprehension?
Searching for happiness at the top of a corporate ladder can lead you to become disappointed and cause you to miss out on important moments in your life.
So every 1-3 years, take some time to consider how far you’ve come, the path that you’re on, and where you want your future to go.
A lot of people make career decisions without knowing what they’re working toward. If you make a decision that is only based on moving “up” you will most likely experience career regret.
Take the time to consider the type of work that plays to your strengths, develops some of your weaknesses and work that energizes you. Find ways to add more of that in your work life, and you will experience less regret.
Time you enjoy spending is never time wasted.
Sometimes it’s okay to take a step backward or sideways to get to a happier place.
4) Consider Your Overall Wellbeing
A work-life balance doesn’t exist, we bring work home with us emotionally and physically.
Sometimes we spend so much time working it feels like we never go home at all.
Do you know why you’re working?
Is it to make more money, or is it bigger than that? While we do need money to support ourselves and our families, being trapped around money can keep us from making changes to get away from toxic situations or investing in ourselves to move towards a more authentic life.
There will be pros and cons to every job you have, in whatever career you’re in.
Weigh them carefully to understand what matters most to you.
In the end, your career path, your success, and your happiness depends on you.
Use your definition of success and your personal Success List to guide your career decisions.
Even with all of this knowledge, you may still find yourself feeling some mid-career regrets. Just know that your time has not been wasted.
You can learn valuable lessons from every experience in life, and mistakes do not lead to failure unless we fail to learn from them.