Have I hit a wall in my career?

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    • #165554

      I’m 34/m and I feel like I’ve hit a wall in my career.

      At this stage of my career, everyone around me seems to be moving into entry level “director” or “senior manager” roles – where they own a chunk of stuff (are financially responsible for their area of the business, or responsible for people, or both).

      I’m barely able to manage my own sh*t; in the best months or quarters, I manage a B+ review grade. I blank out in meetings about decisions we’ve made previously, so people don’t trust me when I say “I will do this” in a meeting. I “float” through the day doing random things. I just cannot setup / create / manage large projects like my peers can. My job increasingly requires me to own stuff and manage more complex things, and I’m very uncertain about how I will fare in my career ahead.

      I haven’t been formally diagnosed, and even if I am, I’m very skeptical of taking medicines to “sort out my ADHD”.

      Are there mid-career folks who have struggled like me and have insights to share?

    • #165557

      Yes but I am looking for ways to better work with how I am wired. Work hacks, tools, even looking for accountability partner to help me stay on task. I am new to all this recently being diagnosed. I am in my 40s and was so stuck. Now that I am getting a better picture of understanding how I am wired, I can figure out a way to make it work for me. Let’s see how the rest of this year goes.

    • #165558

      I think what you’re experiencing is pretty common. It’s not unusual to begin to question your career, your job, and your life after a certain amount of time. Especially in your 30s and 40s when you start to feel like everyone else has their dream or is moving up and you’re stuck in the same place.

      It’s important to answer some questions for yourself about what’s going on right now.

      – Do you like your job? If so, what do you like about it? If not, what don’t you like about it?
      – Do you feel acknowledged, valued, or rewarded at work? Do you feel challenged?
      – What makes you happy?
      – Where do you put your effort? They say that you shouldn’t follow your passion, instead follow your effort. What do you put time into doing at work that doesn’t bother you, or that you do well?
      – Do you want to move up? Or would you rather stay in a role with less responsibility?
      – Have you taken advantage of opportunities for professional growth? If not, would you be interested in seeking those out? For example, asking a boss to take on a new project or to sit in on higher level meetings. Maybe taking a leadership class or finding ways to volunteer in other projects.
      – Do you have the time or energy to commit to your job and company? A lot of times we don’t “get ahead” because we’re not driven to and we don’t want to give our job any more of our time and effort than we already do.
      – Finally, are you happy? Are you taking care of your mental health? What is home like? Do you feel recharged? Are you battling depression? Are you getting professional help?

      Mid-life and quarter-life crises are common. They’re opportunities for us to look internally and see what really matters, and decide for ourselves what we’re willing or not willing to do to be happy. I hope you find your answers, and also that you find your happiness and a career that you can enjoy.

    • #165806
    • #166369

      I was officially finally correctly diagnosed at the age of 38. From my early 20s until about that time, I was experiencing very much the same as you’ve described. 

      If you genuinely have ADHD, you need to know that this is a condition that can quite possibly destroy, over time, your career if it’s not managed correctly. The seriousness of this can not be overstated, which, as you have described, I think you are starting to understand for yourself.

      It’s critical that you get a proper diagnosis from a well-informed clinician without delay. The effects of ADHD compound over time, it snowballs, i.e., lost jobs, bad reputation, missed promotions, damaged relationships, earn less money, not to mention a massive hit to your self-esteem.

      The quicker you get to the bottom of this and get your work challenges under control (with or without medication), the better off you’ll be.

      • #166707

        Thanks for the response jmoney! The foggi-ness is real whenever I’ve tried to have a conversation with myself about how to get to the bottom of my issues.

        I can and will try the diagnosis and medicines route. This is time consuming in the UK, and even more so with health systems flooded with people dealing with direct issues (Coronavirus symptoms) and indirect issues (mental health problems brought forth by the pandemic).

        But back to trying to sort out issues yourself – how did you approach this? Do you have advise for me to start?

        To figure out where I’m more effective day to day: I’ve tried making lists of things I do well at work and don’t do so well, to refocus only on my strengths. Unfortunately, even for tasks that I do better than the average person, the inability to control my attention and focus render my advantage moot (hence I cannot rely on these tasks to help be build a great career).

        To figure out if I need a career reboot and maybe switch to a more “ADD/ADHD friendly” career path.. the conundrum is exacerbated because of my ADHD. I am excited about every possibility (marketing? YES! operational stuff? WOW, LETS DO IT!). How do I objectively assess career possibilities adjacent to my current role (that are ADHD friendly) so that I don’t have to go down to a starter salary, and I can leverage my training / experience / education, while moving into work that is ADHD friendly?

      • #167257

        Hey Addy, I’m happy to hear that you want to get to the bottom of all this, that’s fantastic!

        This journey is time-consuming in the best of times, especially in the beginning, not to mention expensive. Of course, it’s all worth it considering the alternative.

        Become an expert on ADHD and know it inside out. You just have to bit the bullet and do it because reading superficial articles on this just isn’t going to cut it. ADHD is too complicated for a superficial knowledge and can overpower even the best of intentions. So make a strong commitment to getting through these books (as best you can).

        Read these books (in order):

        1) Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood M.D. Edward M. Hallowell M.D., John J. Ratey (available on both Kindle and Audible. Don’t confuse this book w/ “Delivered from Distraction”)

        2) More Attention, Less Deficit: Success Strategies for Adults with ADHD by Ari Tuckman (unfortunately there is no audiobook for this, but he does have a Podcast)

        3) Taking Charge of Adult ADHD by Russell A. Barkley Ph.D. (Author) (available in both Kindle and Audible. recommend getting both.)

        After you read those books, you’ll know:
        -exactly what you’re dealing with
        -your options are managing your ADHD
        -strategies to get your life under control

        The book by Ari Tuckman I found to be the most useful and practical in terms of how to manage my ADHD consistently.

        Russell Barkley is considered one of, if not the top, ADHD doctor/expert/researcher in the world. However, it can be hard to read because he doesn’t sugar coat this condition, and it can be a bit disturbing. I don’t recommend starting with his work but get around to it after you have solid baseline knowledge.

        I highly recommend this video:
        -The Perfect Career for ADHD (Digital Download)
        -The production quality isn’t all that great, but the content is spot on.
        -It’s worth the 16.99

        The Perfect Career for ADHD (Digital Download)

        Also, seriously consider an ADHD coach (after diagnosis):
        I don’t know them personally but find someone like this.

        Driven to Distraction

        Taking Charge of Adult ADHD

        Ari Tuckman, PsyD, CST – his Podcast

    • #168426

      Hi Addy,

      I’m a ‘floaty’ person too and I have found that a subtle ‘awareness chime’ helps a lot. Just a subtle alarm that I have programmed to go off every 20 minutes. I told some co-workers that it was a reminder to drink more water, but in reality whenever I hear the beeps/or feel the vibrations I ask myself if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing (according to my schedule, priorities, deadlines etc.) and If I’m not, why not. It helps me keep track of the flow of time and how I’m spending my hours. Perhaps this can help to get more of a grip on your current workload while you’re figuring out whether or not you want to keep at your job or not and pursue a diagnosis.

      And if you are like me: Always write sh*t down. When I’m asked to do x during a meeting I will forget it as soon as the meeting is over. If you commit to something or are supposed to do something write it down asap. You can also send them an e-mail confirming what it is you are going to do for them. It takes work to get trust back if people think you’re unreliable etc, but it is worth it to try extra hard to fix this if you decide to stay in your current job.

      Also reading your post I wondered what you wanted. Do you want to get ahead? Do you feel you have to? Is your company promoting people based on seniority or whether or not they would be a good teamleader? Will they let you go once you hit a certain number of years without being ready for the next level? Could you be satisfied not getting to the ‘top’?

      I think that when you are able to understand yourself a bit better and to manage yourself a bit better you will find that many techniques that help you stay on top of things are also usable to manage larger projects and more people. I’m rooting for you!

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