Were you excited to develop your skills and expertise at the start or your career? Were you full of ideas, ambition and goals? Many solicitors find that their motivation and productivity lag when they are several years into their career. Research has shown that for many, job satisfaction is U-shaped over time - starting and ending your career on a high with a drop in the middle - there are several reasons for this…
Maybe you have become too familiar with your job and may need a new challenge. If you do seek a new challenge through promotion or a new job, competition can be high, providing even more stress and pressure. Or, maybe you find your peers less supportive than they were earlier in your career. Family commitments can also contribute to a lack of motivation as many professionals start families at this time, and may be struggling to find a healthy work/life balance.
So, how do you know if you are experiencing a mid-career slump? Have you begun to question whether you are in the right job, or want to do something entirely new? Do you feel stressed, burned out, unmotivated or even depressed? Are you less productive or less efficient and find yourself looking for excuses to take a day off?
If you are answering yes to these questions, the following strategies may help you to pull yourself out of a slump.
Find meaning in your job
Which parts of your role do you find most rewarding or significant? Consider what gives you a sense of achievement or purpose and develop a plan to incorporate more of them into your routine. Talk to management about how you could spend more time within these areas. Spending more time working on areas you love can also help to combat burnout.
Set key goals
It is important to take a step back and examine where you are and where you aim to go. Spend some time thinking about what you would like to achieve in the next year, five years, or 10 years. It can also help to think about how you could improve yourself personally. For example, developing soft skills, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution skills etc. may keep you interested, engaged and focused towards your goals.
At this stage of your career you may have gained a lot of knowledge and expertise, while this may make you bored or dissatisfied, it is important to remember that this would also make you a valuable asset in your firm. Add some new challenges to your role to deter any discontentment - take on projects outside of your comfort zone. Maybe try to gain some managerial experience if that is the route you want to take - ask to lead a team of more junior staff/trainees so that you can test your skills and identify the areas where you need to improve.
Find a mentor
A mentor can give you valuable insight into your career to date. They can provide direction, set goals and help develop skills to improve your productivity. Look to your own firm initially - is there someone willing to mentor that you like, respect and look up to? If not, look to the wider legal industry or your network. It is important that you choose someone who can remain objective, rather than a close friend.
Change your role
This can be a rewarding option because it allows you to take on a new challenge while staying within a company in which you are already a valuable asset. Consider this carefully, it may only be worth contemplating if you are completely dissatisfied - think of the change you want to make, are there other specialisms or projects that interest you? or maybe you would consider a different office, or country to work in.
Having an interesting role and a good relationship with your boss are very important factors for job satisfaction. Strong links with colleagues or clients are also important; the more connected you feel to others, the happier you will likely be. Build good work relationships by getting to know the members of your team. Make an effort to connect with others, even outside of normal office hours.
Happiness, of course, is different for everyone; do you know what makes you truly happy? Identify these factors and then incorporate more of them into your personal life. You might find that your happiness outside of work can significantly affect how you feel about your job, so do more of what you enjoy.
Try to remain positive. People enjoy being around optimistic and cheerful people. You will likely find that forcing yourself to think in this way will lead to positive outcomes in your career.