You struggle every morning to get out of bed and start the same old routine that you've done every day for the last umpteen years. Get out of bed, get dressed, consume some fuel for the day, drive the minutes/hours to the job that fills the majority of space in your life, and then reverse the process. You get home, you consume some fuel for the evening, maybe watch some TV/surf the web, get undressed and go to bed; only to do it all again tomorrow.
You wonder what the hell happened? Where did all the time go? Better yet, where did all the passion and drive go? When you first started this adult thing, it was go, go, go, until you flopped into bed at the end of the day, feeling exhausted and accomplished! Now, you lay awake for hours staring at the ceiling, contemplating your universe, wondering why you can't sleep?
You're tired all the time now. You used to be able to work all day, party into the wee hours of the morning, and then get up and start again; now you struggle to get to the bathroom to shower and brush your teeth in the morning. You gaze into the mirror at the stranger in front of you - is that Mom/Dad looking back at me? You look again and realize that it's you; older, but still you. You quickly turn away, preferencing the image of yourself in your mind's eye.
Five minutes to departure and you can't find your keys, your shoes, or the papers for the morning meeting. You wander around the house, scratching your head. You didn't have this problem last year. When you finally arrive at the office, the majority of your co-workers are strangers, younger, more agile, quicker than you. You start to wonder if they might be smarter than you too. You start to keep your head down and nose to the grindstone. Ageism in the workplace is real; everyone knows that. You start to feel like you have something to prove, or you have to justify your position, or that you are still the right person for the position.
The morning meeting. Your co-workers talk over you, or around you. You feel like you're wasting your time. You start to feel like everyone's mom or dad in the workplace ~ awkward, nobody likes to party with parents; right? Resentment sets in. You know more about this place than anyone else in the room. You were wining and dining potential clients, while the rest of them were still drinking juice out of sippy cups in daycare! Resentment morphs to anger and back and forth and back and forth; resentment, anger, resentment, anger...
You dread reading your email everyday, wondering when the email to meet with the boss and HR is going to come. Deep inside you know it will; one day. You've watched it happen to former co-workers for years, and have always known that your turn is coming - someday. You just don't quite know when. The anxiety is overwhelming some days. What will you do if comes? What if it's today?
The frosting on the cake is when you find yourself grieving a loss that hasn't happened yet. Boredom sets in, which breeds mild to severe depression - depending on the other circumstance that are going on in your life - perhaps a looming empty-nest. If you find that you are suffering from depression - mild or severe - go to your doctor immediately. Depression clouds the judgment of even the strongest minds. Rash decisions are not the answer to your problems: Quitting your job, leaving your spouse, or buying extravagant high-ticket items can all lead to long-term ramifications that can result in undesired results.
Conversations with your spouse or friends turn to: "I just feel so burned out. I don't want to do this anymore. I want to live life, not just exist". It has come to the point where you feel like you are just coasting to the finish line. All the hopes and dreams you had way back in your twenties, never came to fruition, because life happened instead. You feel somewhat cheated. You feel like life hasn't been all that you thought it would be.
For people, men and women, who are forty/forty-something to their early fifties, this is not burnout. It's the shift that we all experience, and none of us will escape. It is the natural order of things. The question is; are you prepared for it? Have you even thought about it?
Start making a plan for what your end of career is going to look like.
Retirement is about more than money and net worth. It's about quality of life and a sense of centered self, and sliding into the finish line dirty, scraped up, every bit of talents and gifts used up, looking like something the cat dragged in, because all of this means you have truly lived!