Anyone else old enough to be having a career midlife crisis?

I will have been working in the same industry for 15 years this summer and, while I love my job and had a great career, I’m itching to jack it all in and do something completely different - most likely taking a massive pay cut.

Anyone else feel this? Done this?

Had the urge. Unfortunately, putting a daughter through university meant that I couldn’t act on it.

I have my coping mechanisms.


Good reason not to!

What are your coping mechanisms?

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Apart from writing and refereeing games of Paranoia at gaming conventions?

At work I am not the only person to feel the same way. It helps that being senior engineers (in terms of experience and knowledge, but not in terms of the hierarchy) we are olympic-level grognards. Despite the mandates of management, we have managed to put our stamp on our corner of the office. Nothing outrightly censurable - we know how to skirt the rules - but we are known for our collection of cartoons, models and engineering ‘mementoes’. Do not ask why I have a wiring harness, 20 m of surgical-grade plastic tubing and a Lego dinosaur in my part of the pigpen. I just have. Ignore the plans for world domination that I have on display. And the writing in Japanese on the whiteboard is not offensive. Not at all.

Of course, we can only take this so far. But we take pleasure in whatever minor victories we can win, and the management have learnt not to push us.

When my daughter finally gets a job that pays and leaves home, my attitude may take a different turn. After all, with no responsibility comes great power … .


Wow, so much of what you said reminds me of my dad twenty years ago - he was a telephone engineer and I went with him to work on a ‘take your daughter to work day’ and it was pretty much as you describe! I think he also probably felt similarly about his job.

Hmm, not sure I can apply it to my work in quite the same way but I can apply the sentiment.

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Someone once said: “It can’t be all about paying taxes and dying.”


I know exactly what you’re talking about. Unfortunately, with kids, a career change is out of the question.


40 hit me like a ton of bricks. I was forced to recognize and accept that I was no longer young (relatively) and entering middle-age. For the first time ever, I had to contemplate my own mortality. I’m two years from 50 now. Wondering what that’s going to be like.


And did you do anything differently after 40?

Nope still the same dorky eternal teenager I’ve always been.


I guess my husband already had his. He was 35 when he met me. He used to have the attitude “It’s going to be a cold day in hell when I get married.” Ever hear of Hell Michigan? Get’s cold their quite frequently. :wink: He then went from the wandering bachelor to the married father of three. But I do understand what you mean. My aunt had been a teacher for about 20 years, and she decided that it was time she did an early retirement. They crunched the numbers, they could swing it. Then my uncle got very sick. He had the attitude “If she hadn’t of decided to take that early retirement she would not have been able to stay home to take care of me.” Very much a man of faith he was. And is. He was a retired vet so they got their pensions.

It can be a risky thing to do, but sometimes it’s still the right thing. What exactly are your plans? And keep in mind what they are. P-L-A-N-S and therefore should be planned out. Ask yourself the hard questions, like is a new job worth getting a new lifestyle too. Will you need to downsize and possibly rebuild? Or would you be content to downside and live moderately continuously? Can you handle the idea of possibly relocating? If you do relocate, would you plan on moving first and then getting the job? Or would you rather apply for a new job and then move to the location and still have a way to give your two weeks notice? Is there anyone that depends on you or is it just you? And if you do have dependents, how will the change effect them? And how many more years do you have to wait until you can officially retire, and then do whatever you want at your own leisure? Reach out to a financial advisor if you can, and see if they can offer any advice of changing now or changing in the next five years or so.


Quite likely. Engineering is one of the few jobs that still (in the UK at least) has security. On the other hand, it also locks you in. Engineer burnout is a thing and, given that engineers seem to have/develop similar personalities,it seems to take pretty much the same course.

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The problems of being responsible adult with responsibilities. All those things apply. The key is being able to shed some of those burdens.


Thank you for such a considered response! There is so much to think about/plan, as you say. I don’t have anyone depending on me at the moment (a cat, a boyfriend - both can fend for themselves!) so that should make it easier, but i have a big mortgage and live in a place (and gotten used to a lifestyle) that comes with a high cost of living. Relocating, down-sizing, change of lifestyle - all things I’d have to consider properly! Although there’s a part of me that just wants to do it, then figure it out.

Loved the story about your husband by the way.

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I’m 25 and just starting my career but already feeling this way! Is it serious (and weird) ? :thinking: :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: :grin:

I feel ya. I’ve been working in the same job for 10 years now and I, too, love my job, but lately I’ve been thinking about doing something else. Not neccessarily thinking of quitting my job, but rather do another thing at the same time.

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Word :weary:

Yes. I felt burnt out after 17 years in basically the same role in a big company. Luckily, I requested and was moved to another role that was completely different from the previous one. It invigorated me, and I didn’t have to take a pay cut while I play with this writing thing at night. Maybe not a possibility for everyone, but weigh all your options.

I hit my career crisis early right out of college. Namely I got a degree in audio engineering and spent the next year interning trying to find a paying gig. It taught me that it wasn’t what I wanted to do for a living. So i wound up taking a shitty call center job where I failed at pushing sales. So I tailspin into just feeling like a failure overall. I hit rock bottom in a lot of ways at that point. Luckily, my friends found me an easy job at the airport where I was able to earn a living and reevaluate some things. I went back and trained as a medical assistant. Did that for years before deciding I was interested in the tech side of the medical world. Now I’m an application analyst working on the medical records system at the hospital.

I’m 36 now and my biggest hangup is the fact it took me so long find my way.

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I have pretty much the same situation as you (the original poster), same amount of years, the same feelings, and the same assumption that quitting would be a big mistake, at least financially.

Try to resist all those who say you should follow your heart and jump off the wheel, because there’s a good chance it might actually be a big mistake.

However, don’t also turn a blind eye at these feelings you’re having. If you’re bored, you are bored.

One thing I’ve found very useful is to constantly keep a few alternative plans in the drawer. Their mere existence reduces the feeling of being trapped by one’s career. They are also a security warranty. If my job was suddenly to end, I’d have something else to go on with, and not starting from scratch.

Hobbies are also very useful. Writing is such a hobby for me, and there are a few others. Writing is certainly something I’d love to do all days, but since it doesn’t pay the bills, it’s better to convince myself that I need to do one thing for income so I can then sit down in a comfortable flat to type my unprofitable manuscripts and poems.

I know, time is a major constraint here. But one can utilize a lot of good time from other wasted moments than a paid job. For example, I quit both TV and computer games long ago for the reason that they consume time. My free time should always be dedicated to what I truly love.