What is a career-crisis?

Career-crisis from psychology point of view

What is a career crisis?

A career crisis can be defined as a period of insecurity, doubt and disappointment surrounding your career, professional choices and aspirations. Often, people experiencing a career crisis feel at odds with their professional identity and struggle to associate with it. This is manifested as a clash of one’s personal values with what they are required to do professionally. Usually, a career-crisis this follows a period of personal growth, hence your professional image is simply not valid anymore. When this happens people start longing for a career change, but often nothing happens because they lack an understanding of who they really are and what they want to do.

Career-crisis stages

Stage 1: you have a vague feeling you were meant to do more… or different things…more important things, and that they will certainly happen in the future but for now, you are just rehearsing for your big role… the issue is you are rehearsing for too long. You don’t yet know what that “big” thing could be, but you feel you are not where you have to be.

Stage 2: unlike in the 1st stage, when you were just vaguely feeling something is not right, at this stage you start having concrete dreams and longing for change. You start dreaming of another job and usually this is something completely different from what you are doing right now. Sometimes you hear stories of people who changed their lives, and you start thinking about your dream job again. Perhaps you even take some steps towards this dream, but because there is no clear path, nothing happens. It becomes your “someday…” plan.

Stage 3: you dread Sunday evenings. Your work is something to be endured, not enjoyed. You don’t just long for changes, you are desperate for them. This stage can last for years. The longer you spend in it, constantly weighting choices, decisions, actions, the less energy you have to act.

What triggers career-crisis?

Crises can happen at any point in your career, and be caused by a variety of triggers. Some are outside of ourselves and beyond our control, but most of them are internal and psychological. Big birthdays (40s, 50s, 60s), changing life roles (e.g. becoming a parent), life threatening disease (e.g. cancer), or simply desiring more meaningful work can trigger a search for a new professional identity and career.

What is the meaning of a career crisis from psychology point of view?

As any other crisis, a career-crisis is a crossroads. In its essence it is a Choice Point, when we decide to turn left or right. It is a point where our freedom of choice is activated and it’s good if we stop to reflect on our previous choices and decisions. This is a perfect time for taking a conscious decision on what to do next. Our actions and decisions in this Choice Point will determine the quality of our life going forward.

Realising you are at a Choice Point is an important step. Only when people realise they are at a decision-making crossroads, their life can change for the better. If not, life will go on as usual. The window of opportunity is open.