Aging/Gerontology, News

Stuck in a Job- Issues/Frustrations for those Close to Retirement

By Kelly Mitchell-Guest Blogger

Here in Canada, a trend that is currently happening is that a large number of people are moving quickly toward retirement. This is a massive number of people, and as such, there is going to be an equally large number of jobs becoming available in the next 10 – 15 years as those people make individual decisions to give up their employment. For many it will come with some disappointment that they are no longer working at jobs they loved, while for others it will come with great relief that they can finally walk away from jobs where they’ve been stagnating for years.

One of the harsh realities for many people is that in their late 40’s and early 50’s, they come to realize that their current jobs no longer bring them the happiness and opportunities they once promised. The climb to the top has stalled, the job becomes routine, the days a repeat of previous days, and the likelihood that things will change diminishes.

Now personally, I know of 8 people who are in this situation; some are my best friends, and some are colleagues. What’s more is that I’m willing to bet that if I really went out of my way to ask other people I know, I’d see this number rise even more.

What all 8 of these people have in common is a sense of growing frustration and acceptance, and a diminishing of their capability to do anything about it. Can you identify with them? For example, one is a Senior Manager in a large corporation who is only using a fraction of the skills and knowledge he has to do his job. It’s not that he wouldn’t like to do more, it’s because his superiors are holding him back out of their own ignorance. They don’t have his training, and as things are running just fine in the company, why introduce change where change is not needed in their eyes? So just keep doing the same thing they’ve always done, running it the same way its always been done.

Another guy is at the top of his franchise. The only other place for him to go is head office in another city or leave the company entirely and take his skills somewhere else. His problem is very complicated with financial commitments and not being able to uproot his family and move to another town. Marital break-ups can do that to a person. And to be gender fair, I know a woman who is in 2014 stuck lacking the courage to take a big leap of faith by quitting and doing something boldly new. She’s been stuck for 5 years now feeling unfulfilled and spinning her wheels. She doesn’t want to get promoted because she doesn’t want what comes with that job, and her own job is something she could do blindfolded and in her sleep she feels.

Now I’ll tell you this; as an Employment Counsellor, I have had 1:1 talks with some of these people. They know what I do for a living and they know they can count on me to listen to them and support them if they seriously want to make a change. But I know too that I can’t live their lives, and their choices are their choices to make. Even not making a change is still a choice; a choice to keep things the same and carry on.

In a perfect world, wouldn’t we all do things that we find stimulating and interesting? We’d be paid increasing salaries as we grow, and each day when we did whatever it is that we do, we’d come home feeling good and fulfilled giving thanks for the wonderful jobs and careers we have that bring us such satisfaction. Well maybe for some. For others, a perfect world would mean we only work 3 days a week or some variation, and we enjoy the other days doing our own thing with enough money to live the way we want.

Are you stuck in a job or career where you need the money it provides and there’s little opportunity to change much? Feel trapped? Despite the outward appearance each of these people show to the world, when deep in conversation on a one-to-one basis each gets very serious and I can easily pick up their discontent. It must be frustrating to know you need a change and yet feel change is the very thing you cannot do or will not risk.

The issue in one’s 40’s or 50’s is the commitments one has at that point. There’s spouses and children, parents that need supporting, social convention that says you should have made it career-wise by now, mortgages and financial obligations, and a growing realization that only a finite number of years are left to build that retirement nest egg. With so many other people looking for work, not only would your job be filled within a week, the number of other people you’d be competing for other jobs with is alarming. And the result is keeping the status quo.

The danger in all of this is growing despondent and depression setting in; a feeling of failure and a life of unhappiness ahead. That’s what they tell me. As a colleague and personal friend to some, I feel for them. This column doesn’t come with easy fixes either. While I could dispense ideas and advice, this time around I just want to highlight the situation.

*Original post can be found at: http://myjobadvice.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/stuck-in-a-job/