People often joke about their experiences of going through a mid-life crisis. But for me it was no laughing matter. This time last year, when I was already battling the double whammy of shielding from Covid and debilitating peri-menopausal symptoms, it suddenly dawned on me – frighteningly, I’d crossed that all-important threshold and had fewer years left on Planet Earth than those already lived.
My life went into a tailspin, and I started questioning everything. Why am I here? Why did I make certain past choices? Relationships with everyone around me, including why I was drawn to some people and kept others at arm’s length? Regrets and missed opportunities. My religion. Indeed, not to mention death and legacy.
Thankfully, it wasn’t all bad. Reflecting on years gone by helped me to reassess and identify my current core values, which had naturally shifted as I gained more life experience. This in turn allowed me to stay laser focused on designing a future aimed at making the most of opportunities (including creating some of my own) and remaining calm whenever life throws curveballs at me. In other words, knowing what is most important to the older and wiser version of me provided a blueprint for how I want to live going forward. The end result is that I now feel more motivated and confident in my decision-making, even if it means occasionally wandering off the beaten track. I’m now also less likely to be swayed by other people’s opinions of me. And most importantly I’m gradually finding inner peace and purpose, which was especially hard as someone who doesn’t have children.
However, seeking clarity around your core values and finding purpose needn’t be limited to navigating a mid-life crisis. Indeed, it’s a must for lawyers who have reached career crossroads and fallen out of love with their jobs (assuming they loved their jobs in the first place!) owing to shifting values. Indeed, that feeling of your values being no longer in synch with that of an employer’s is often cited as a reason for career dissatisfaction.
As a teenager my primary value of wanting to help others was what drove me to pursue a legal career. But that soon changed, and as a 20-something year old City lawyer I became more focussed on ambition, wealth-generation and progression to partnership. But most recently I once again felt motivated to help others (how ironic you might be thinking). Indeed, it was during my time working as a legal recruiter when I experienced a key eureka moment, realising that meeting and chatting to candidates about their career goals / aspirations interested me more than the process of finding them a new job.
What’s more, though I’d still describe myself as ambitious, career success now needs to be on my terms and mustn’t compromise my other core values including independence, better work/life balance and adventure. That means being able to work when and where it suits me. So hardly surprising that running my own career coaching business and website has been an ideal career path for me.
As part of my Career MOT sessions, I use various values exercises to help my clients gain clarity about what is really fuelling their inner engines. If you’d like to book an MOT with me please drop me a line!