“Am I in the right job?” is a question asked by many individuals in their mid-life. This could be triggered by different things such as not making a promotion or losing a job. Or there might not be a trigger at all. A person might be in a seemingly great job/ situation, but still be asking this question.

Interestingly, studies have shown that an individual’s happiness is U-shaped, and reaches its minimum in middle age, keeping other factors constant. Studies show that satisfaction in lives is high when people are young and bottoms out in their mid-40s to mid-50s, after which it starts to rise again. This could be a result of coming to terms with reality vs high expectations in younger days. This could also happen to those who are seemingly in very well paying and prestigious jobs, as the satisfaction they expected from that job might not come true. Once, satisfaction levels and expectations are aligned, satisfaction starts to rise again.

By mid-life, most individuals have gone through many ups and downs in their life and career. This gives them the benefit of wisdom and experience to look at things in perspective. They are also willing to look at doing things which align with their interests and passions, rather than work for money/ prestige, as they did in younger years. As many individuals have fewer limitations at this stage, this could potentially be a great period for growth and rejuvenation.

What can I do to make mid-life crisis a good thing?

  • Self-awareness – As a first step, individuals could start by being aware that we all go through this phase of aligning our expectations and satisfaction levels and that it’s a difficult period. It helps to introspect and identify our interests and passions. It also helps to understand our own strengths and development areas.
  • Keep skills upgraded – As industries evolve and new industries come in, it is important to keep upgrading skills and develop ourselves in our areas of interest. There are so many cases of people changing careers mid-life. In most cases, those individuals kept growing their skills in their interest areas. As a result, they were able to make the transition better.
  • Aligning interests with strengths – Mid-life is also a time to introspect and identify areas of interest where we also have our strengths. Once we take up work we enjoy and develop the strengths required for that work, satisfaction levels will rise. This might not always mean a career transition. There could be opportunities within the existing job/ company to pursue our interests. Or people could pursue interests outside their jobs.
  • Networking – Whether one chooses a new career or decides to continue in the same one after mid-life, it is important to keep the professional network alive. This helps to, not only understand market trends, but also get support from friends/ colleagues/ family during this difficult phase.

It helps to keep in view that there is no straight road to happiness, but it is fun if we enjoy the journey.



Hannes Schwandt, “Why so many of us experience a Mid-life crisis?”, April 20, 2015

Is well-being U-shaped over the life cycle?

David G. Blanchflowerabc,

Is well-being U-shaped over the life cycle?
Social Science & Medicine, Volume 66, Issue 8, Pages 1733-1749
David G. Blanchflower, Andrew J. Oswald