I do not know why it is called as Blue’s.
I accept that I did not do any research on the origin of this.
Blue is a nice colour and my favourite colour as well and I do not think it stands for gloom.
My fair guess is that, it is possible that we have been conditioning into this kind of thinking by the environment after some years in our job.
However for the purposes of this article, I will retain the familiar terminology.
I can safely say that I was a victim of that conditioning.
This would be a two part article. In this part I would possibly look from the individual’s point of view and in the next part I would see how organizations can actively address it. Generally my bias would be towards the individual as I see the individual can play a more effective role than the organization in encountering this.
Typically the origin of ‘Mid Career Blues’ can be mapped to a single equation
Expectations != Reality or in other words there is a mismatch between what you want to do and what you are doing.
If you are thinking about having the blues, in my view it is actually good, because if you are thinking, you are alive and you are in a state where you are examining you own status quo, which in actually is a very good thing.
It is a state , where you are pausing and reflecting, which again is an extremely wonderful thing to do.
However, the blues happen only because you feel you can do nothing to do change the status quo and then the stress starts adding up and gets reflected in your triglycerides which will hit through the roof.
If you have any doubt, please do a immediate health check and notice that value.
I can safely bet will be off the accepted values and that is a possible indication that your blues are on. (Well , please do take the help of a medical practitioner in understanding those values)
The other symptoms could be
- Work is no longer fun
- There is a nagging feeling that you seem to be stuck
- You feel that you are more of an industrial robot going through the motions
- Going to bed and getting up from bed becomes a strain
- You take too yourself too seriously and become extremely reactive or choose the other extreme and become extremely cold
I am going to list down twenty three factors of mid-career blues that you can identify with and take the necessary steps to correct them.
I do not think you are willing to go ahead. Twenty three would have put you off.
Well I was just joking.
I shall just stop with five
- Responsibility of Growth
- Challenge ‘Thy’ Self
- Shift ‘Status Quo’
- Bring back the ‘Fun’
- Know, when it is not working
Responsibility of Growth
It is unfortunate that you outsource the responsibility of your growth to your organizations. Well organizations do their bit, but the might of that responsibility is on your shoulders. Organizations definitely are focused on people development, but as the old adage goes they can only take the horse to the water, but cannot make it drink. I think if you reverse the framing of the problem to “My growth is organization’s responsibility, they have to do something” to “My growth is my damned responsibility and let me do something about it”, things would be easier. Once you put yourself on this path, you will notice a sea change in yourself and somehow you would see that suddenly organization nudging the horse towards the water.
Challenge ‘Thy’ Self.
The blues are the period when your desire to learn will possibly at an extreme low. This is the time you need to go to the ‘fresher mindset’, where you will work tirelessly towards learning something that has been thrown at you. Now with so many avenues for learning anything you want, challenge yourself to do something that you always wanted to do or you were always scared to do . Both works. It does not matter whether you are choosing a skill related to work or choosing a skill unrelated to work, but put yourself back in student mode who has to clear a exam. Just get back the discipline of acquiring skills or augmenting your existing skills. You can begin on a steady way or an aggressive way depending on your appetite and time.
Shift ‘Status Quo’
Make an attempt to create some imbalance. In your sphere of work or your personality, take something mundane and attempt to break the monotony. If something was always done some way, ask ‘why’ and see if there could be a better way. It does not matter if you reverse the position of your sitting desk or come in a some kind of dress that no one has seen you wearing or anything else it is fine. Change the way you participate in a meeting. Refuse to go for meetings without agendas and in recurring meetings stop the meeting if the earlier items were not acted upon. Make a statement. In short, attempt something that you have not attempted. Do not worry about the outcome.
Bring back the ‘Fun’.
Statistically more than one third of your life is in your work place. If it is not fun, there is no point. If you are faking grumpiness and having fun inside that according to me is fun as well. It really depends on your personality. It is ok to show that underneath the layers of skin, you are human after all. Have your hallway conversations with everyone, not everything related to work, nor related to creating a better future. It can be about where you can get the best road side street food surrounding your area or about some goofy things that you keep repeatedly doing.
Know, when it is not working
All good things come to an end. Despite your best efforts, you may realize that it is not working out. You may realize the erosion of your contribution margin or the organization’s perception of your contribution margin. In an organizational context all perceptions are facts. If this continues, I think you will have to call it a day. It is good for you. It is good for the organization. You should leave with everyone wondering ‘why’ rather than breathe a sigh of relief!.
That is all is there to it folks, but if you have to just focus on one thing, just remember this ‘Your growth is your responsibility’. Write it down as an imposition one thousand times if you have to.
In the next edition of this, I would cover how organizations can effectively address the blues, but I repeat, that the onus should be on you .
Being aware of the blues and taking effective measures to address that is the beginning of a phase in life, where you have clearly made a statement to exercise a choice that only you can make. I think you will enjoy exercising that choice.
If none of this makes sense, remember the below quote. It always works for me as a good compromise!
The serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference” – Reinhold Niebuhr
Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun)