The Mid-Life Career Crisis Or Mid-Life Career Opportunity

“I feel empowered.” Samantha said as she got up to leave our career counseling session.  Samantha had reached a high anxiety point in her job as an auditor for a large corporation in Stamford. She sought out career counseling in desperation. “I was always someone who figured everything out on my own.  I put myself to college – my parents worked in New Haven restaurants all their lives – I had no real career advisors in high school or college – I’ve been my own counsel all my life.” 
Samantha had been taking Xanax for anxiety during the last year and realized that she was not really doing it herself anymore and needed career counseling. She was in her late forties and feeling the anxiety that is well known in the 40-59 age range. Studies show that this period creates the most anxiety for most.  It makes sense.  The level of responsibilities, particularly with children, is very high and the level of fun/opportunity to change is usually low.
But those statistics related to mid life unhappiness are generalities. You can make a career and life change anytime. My most satisfying work is helping the Samanthas of the world move from miserable work to happier career paths.  I realized that I found this work so satisfying because unlike my twentysomething clients who have not been beaten (at least too much) by the world of work, many mid-life professionals feel they cannot change, that they are locked into a path, and that they simply must endure the path for the duration, which could be another 20-25 years. 

This is not true.  You can create career changes at any age.  Samantha had simply never thought through the process.  During one career counseling meeting, I provided the process for such change and Samantha felt empowered.