They say almost everyone go through the midlife career crises – whether you are in a technical field or non-technical one. Technologists who started their career in 80’s or 90’s can correlate following scenarios and possibly few of you are going through and are part of these scenarios.
Scenario 1: You started your technology career with old set of technologies and at the moment finding it tough to keep pace with latest architecture and technology paradigm shifts. You have grown in age but left learning new technologies long time back (when you got comfortable in what you were doing). You carry anxiety with you on what would happen to your job.
Scenario 2: You are dissatisfied what you are doing but are not enough motivated to learn anything new in technology world. Not motivated to look for new job as well.
Scenario 3: You were part of the original team architecting and designing the solution but now young technologists are redesigning what you did several years back. You interact with them but you know you will not be able to keep pace with them.
Scenario 4: Your growth in the organization has slowed down in last few years. You accomplished what you could as Technologist or Architect but in recent years things have changed. You are feeling stagnated as you don’t think there are enough opportunities for you. You do not know whether you continue with technology or move into management.
Scenario 5: You are comfortable with your salary but not happy what you are doing. You are in dilemma – continue with your current job or look around. You are at mid age and fear that you may not get right job somewhere else. You also know that you have your mortgage payment due next week.
Believe me, you are not alone who is going through these scenarios – many of middle age Technologists go through such ‘mid age career crises’. Here are few tips hoping they will help avoid getting into such mid age career crises and help them survive and grow in their organization and career.
# 1: Redefine your career objective – You started your technology career with certain objective which was valid at that specific age and experience level. If you are not happy, not growing and not enjoying what you are doing then it is the time you must redefine your career objective. Have you given thought around what you really want to achieve in your career next (say next 2 years)? Based on what you want to do and your career accomplishments, you can redefine your career plan and if required switch your job function as possible and feasible within your organization.
#2: Are you relevant to your organization? – With changes in organization business models, management styles, immediate supervisors and job profiles, you need to assess your fitment within your organization ecosystem. You must be relevant to your organization with your existing technology skills and expertise. If you are not relevant – you are misfit. Probably your age would not permit you to unlearn / relearn all required things to be relevant. Discuss with concerned stakeholders and plan next steps ASAP.
#3: Keep pace with changing technologies – Are you super specialist or generalist? When have you last learnt some new technology, framework, or tool? If your answer is more than 1 year back, it’s time to wake up. You are becoming obsolete. If you cannot lead or contribute to the latest technology initiative, someone else would do it. Your competition is not just your peers – the real competition is millennial. There are multiple sites which offer you online training on technology subjects. Have a look at few of them here . With other commitments you may not be able to go to college at this age, but you can definitely attend online courses and sharpen your skills.
#4: Rediscover your passion for technology – You entered and survived in technology field because you had passion for it. It is high time now to rediscover that once again. Keep small but smart goals for learning something ‘cool’. See how you feel once you execute small program and see something on your screen. Don’t wait for others to motivate you – you are a mature technologist now and not a college kid 🙂
#5: Formal management education – Well, this is a debatable point. Not necessary that every technologist must go through formal MBA program, but going through some formal management education certainly helps. With growing age, technologists enter into management pyramid directly / indirectly and good understanding of management concepts and principles helps.
#6: Adjust to future of work – You are a grey hair or no hair technologist with many millennial around you. Working culture, styles, methods and techniques have changed in last several years. You need to understand and adjust how new generation works and you need to be part of them. See if you can have a millennial as your buddy. Long time back you were mentoring someone young but now it is time for you to get mentored from young ones. Here are top 10 things what I have learnt from millennial.
#7: Past is past and future is here – You definitely did so many great things in past, worked on complex solution architectures and you must be proud of them. But past is past. You should not be egoistic with past achievements and be open in understanding different perspective, especially coming from millennial. You may have strong experience and opinions about certain technologies and products but look at new paradigms and technologies as well. You wrote hundreds of lines of code then spending hours, today same functionality can be achieved through drag-and-drop editors. Don’t be shy – ask and adopt new paradigms.
#8: Know your priorities – At this age you have your own personal priorities. How much time can you spend adjusting yourself to demanding work cultures and expectations? You have your own limits and boundaries. For you work-life balance is probably important than being master of many latest and greatest technologies in the world. Put smart goals, target one at a time and celebrate your small but meaningful achievements.
#9: Job satisfaction is a relative term – There is no standard definition of what ‘job satisfaction’ means. As far as you are enjoying what you are doing, feel energetic going to office every morning and come home with smile on face, consider it as job satisfaction. Salary can fulfill needs but it may not make you happy.
#10: Opportunities outside – Age is not the constraints for right technologists. If you still do not find motivated and think there are no other options within organization or you are not relevant to your organization anymore – look for job outside ASAP. Prepare your profile with you concrete technology skills, expertise, experience and accomplishments. Update your profile at LinkedIn and float word within your friends circle. There is still scarcity of strong technologists in the industry and if you are good, age is not the problem.
[Acknowledgement : Technologist picture drawn with Edraw mindmap tool]
Do you have any other thoughts for everyone’s benefit?
Note: All these blog posts and views mentioned in my personal blog are my own and NOT of my current and previous employers. I am NOT representing any of my organizations through this blog. This blog is just for sharing my findings based on publicly available information related to interesting things happening in Technology area.