A Harvard research report calls it Middlesence — You’ve ticked all the boxes in your check-list — Graduation from an ivy league college, well-paying job at an MNC, a spouse, few kid(s), and later you wonder what’s next?
Your life experiences have shown you the world in a new light and you realise there is more to you and what you can offer to this world.
For some, it’s a beginning of a journey inwards. Safeera Gaffar, 37 shares her story of leaving a nine to five job in New York and coming back to Bengaluru. “I have always been passionate about creating art, my true calling, which I suppressed for almost a decade. Summoning all my courage, I decided to drop a career in environmental science to pursue my passion for art.” This journey of self discovery led to her first installation Wish Upon a Star as an independent artist. The installation features over 200 handmade origami stars and each star is created with 30 individual pieces of paper that have been folded in a particular pattern and glued together with homemade rice glue.
The 30s and 40s is also when one is more open to risk, and ultimately reaps rewards of pursuing an ambitious vision. Shweta Jain, 36 shares, “I worked in a company for 14.5 years (left when I was 35) and started my own firm not just to work on my terms but also to build a legacy.” Within a year of leaving, she also published a book (My conversations about money) which deals with money management and wealth growth.
The report mentions mid-career women start looking for ways to balance job responsibilities, family and leisure while hoping to find new meaning in their work. They feel suddenly awakened, and driven by the desire to generate more value. This holds true for Shweta Kapoor, now 41, who went for a role change at 39 after 17 years of consulting with the Big 4 as director IT advisory. “After a hectic deeply technical career, it felt that just the left brain was gainfully employed. At this stage, I re-evaluated and went for ‘going whole’ as I call it. My own home is my pride and passion, and I partly inherited this trait from my mother and was partly fuelled by my husband. I launched my home styling parallel career as doing up homes and giving advice gave me a lot of joy and energy, like bursting open a citrus peel in a closed room.” She has not given up on her primary profession of consulting, and is sailing both boats and acing the balancing act.
Rituparna Ghosh, founder and EVP of India’s largest staffing company sums up, “I don’t know if I would call it midlife transition, but I have noticed this trend in CXOs who have been working with large organisations in senior roles for a while. Those with top jobs may not exactly retire or resign but prefer flexibility after years of working. They like to dictate terms about how much and when they want to work, and take up consulting roles. Some of them do take up dramatically different projects from their earlier professions but this happens after they reach a certain financial security level.
They feel they don’t have to be a part of the rat race anymore or they feel they want to try out something different before it’s too late,” she explains.