In the United States, it’s common for people to work from their early 20s to about the time they’re 65. And once they hit 65, after over 40 years of working, folks generally consider retiring.
Now, it probably goes without saying that 40 years in the workforce is a long time. And many people burnout and get tired of work prior to that.
To that end, this article is written specifically for people that are in their 40s and tired of working.
Transparently, I’m not 40 yet. I turn 35 soon. So while I can’t fully speak from having been in the exact position of being in my 40s and tired of working, I can share my perspective on what might be causing that feeling of burnout, based upon periods when myself and other people in my life have gone through similar experiences.
So, to that end, I’m going to share my thoughts on why you might be in your 40s and tired of working and recommendations on what to do about it.
Let’s dive in.
What Age Do People Get Tired of Working?
According to a recent survey, the average worker experiences career burnout at the age of 32. So, if you’re 40 and tired of working, that’s not uncommon.
However, my point of view on this is that career burnout can happen at 25, 32, in your 40s, or it may never happen at all. I know some people that continue to work and enjoy doing so up until their 80s.
The key is what type of work we’re doing and whether it fills us with life.
Where I think many of us run into trouble with work is thoughtlessly following what Paul Millard calls the “default path.” And that’s the path of viewing work as something that we have to do to make ends meet. And that our goal with our work is to climb the ladder as high as we possibly can and make as much money as we possibly can.
Pursuing that default path can be a recipe for disaster. You’re operating on auto pilot to pursue a path that may get you status and acclaim but if it’s not one that gives you energy, brings you joy, or enables you to feel like you’re making a difference, then it’s one that will likely result in you simply feeling like you don’t want to work. And your 40s could be the breaking point for that, or it could even happen well earlier than that.
Why Am I Tired of Working in My 40
You’re likely tired of working in your 40s because the work that you’re doing probably isn’t life giving for you.
And many people get to that point in different ways. It might be because we started out chasing the wrong things and by the time we woke up to that, our lifestyle had creeped to the point where it would be difficult to reset and make less money for a period of time.
Or it could be because we didn’t demand more out of what we wanted from our work and never expected it to be something that we enjoy and that gives us life.
Lastly, it could be because we simply need to make ends meet and we took a job because it was the only one we could find.
Whatever the reason, if you’re tired of working in your 40s, it’s because you’re doing work that makes you tired and not that fills you with energy.
In My 40s and Tired of Working: What To D0
If you find yourself in your 40s and tired of working, then it’s time to step back and assess what you really want and experiment with different paths for how to get there.
At a high level, you want to start by establishing a vision for your life. And I mean looking at your overall life, not just work. Too often, in the United States, I think that we start by selecting our work path first and then building our life around that. I recommend that you think about what you want your life to look like and then seek work that fits into the context of that life.
Once you have your vision for you life, then try and find tangible career paths that fit into that vision and that may be life giving you. I find the Ikigai to be a wonderful framework on how to do that.
From there, once you have a sense of what some potential paths might look like for you, it’s time to go out and experiment and reflect on which of those feels right to you.
I unpack that whole process and provide tools and references for each on the different stages in our article called I Have No Idea What To Do With My Life: How To Get Unstuck.
Can I Quit My Job at 40?
Yes, you can quit your job at 40. In fact, you can quit your job at any time if it’s not serving you and/or you feel like you’re not serving others in the way that you like through your work.
My favorite definition of work is the energy that we put forth to create good. And we only get one life and one opportunity to create good. So try to create good in the best possible way that you can.
My recommendation would simply be to quit in a responsible way. So if you’re going to quit with nothing else lined up, make sure that you’re in a financial position to do so and have a plan for what your next steps are going to be.
Career Failure at 40
If you find yourself in a situation where you’re tired of working at 40, or maybe you’re in the opposite position and feel like you have no career at 40, you may feel like you’ve failed in your career.
I’m here to tell you that there are many, many people that are feeling and experiencing the same thing. And the only failure is not working to change your circumstances when you’re not happy with an aspect of your life.
So, my recommendation is to follow the steps in the previously recommended what to do with life article and go establish a vision for what you want to do, identify some career paths that may fit into that, and go experiment.
It is very common to be in your 40s and tired of working.
In fact, many people experience career burnout well before that.
If you’re experiencing burnout, it’s likely that you’ve followed a path that is not life giving for you. Now, it’s your turn to go and try to find work that fits into the life that you want to live and build it.
Good luck to you!