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What is a mid-career dysphoria, you may ask? It is the sinking feeling that your career trajectory is not heading towards the direction that you seek for. It is of all the times we wonder in our heads, “Am I in the right career field?” “Am I doing what I am truly passionate about?” “Am I leveraging on my skills and expertise to its maximum potential?” “Am I creating something of value?” “Why does it feel like there’s a void in me that I can’t seem to fill?” “Why do I feel like I am stuck in a rut?” These questions can truly be harrowing and agonizing for mid-career professionals searching for life’s purpose and fulfillment, whilst needing to juggle between intense work pressures to earn substantially and the stress inducing personal and family demands at home.

Research has shown that when a mid-career dysphoria transpires, it will unequivocally impact one’s personal and work life as these two factors are interdependent, professionals may re-examine their career goals which may then lead to a major shift in their career trajectory, some may find themselves landing a new job, opting for work that is of vast difference with their current job field – starting from ground zero with miniscule remuneration in comparison to what they’re receiving at the moment if they were to stay in their current jobs.

Gianpiero Petriglieri, associate professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD stated that mid-career dysphoria runs deeper psychologically than what we portray it to be, where it is an “episodic moment” of frustration or “a particularly gruesome work project” that depletes you entirely. “Midlife is the time where you lose the illusion of immortality. You know your opportunities aren’t endless, and you realize that time is finite.”

Based on a 1996 article written by Andrew Oswald, professor of Economics and Behavioural Science of University of Warwick and a group of economists, they analyzed a survey of more than 5,000 British employees nationwide, which in turn resulted in the findings where job satisfaction essentially emerge in the form of a U-shaped curve, satisfaction rate declines from an average level in the early years of employment and then increasing exponentially up to the age of retirement.

Whitney Johnson, an executive coach and the author of several books including Build an A-Team stated that, “Professionals question: ‘Is this really what I want to be doing?’” She says that while “it’s natural and normal to experience professional restlessness,” We need to be proactive and figure out the next steps on how to go about this dilemma.

Here are some beneficial key points to look out for:

  • Reflect and reassess your current situation by identifying what is the cause of your professional discontent. “One reason for a mid-career crisis is that too much of your time at work is spent putting out fires and avoiding bad results, instead of pursuing projects with existential value” noted Kieran Setiya, a philosophy professor in MIT. Is the organization that you’re working for causing a sense of displeasure? Does it have to do with workplace culture or a sense of loss in personal and professional identity? The lack of development or career advancement or it is purely based on your routine and specialized job scope? Do bear in mind that to reevaluate your career trajectory during midlife might not be facile when you have numerous and non-negotiable commitments to take into consideration i.e. mortgage, your child’s schooling expenses, household expenditures.
  • Be multifaceted and seek for constant growth. Boredom can be one of the major setbacks in a professional’s career midway through, when one gets mildly comfortable in their everyday routine at work, you yearn for that adrenaline and dopamine rush from innovative pedagogical methods provided by mentors, self development online courses or even be in the pursuit of a vertical promotion. However, this suggestion may seem unorthodox to many but a lateral move where a different set of skills can be learned without a perceived increment in remuneration might be the possible remedy. One could even be proactive and seize every opportunity thus leveraging on their expertise to find and solve problems within their organization.
  • Set and create milestones outside of work. The inability to change what is ongoing in an organization shouldn’t deter you from finding insightful and valuable meaning in life when you’re not at work. For instance, incorporating activities that you’ve been putting on hold, it could be a pet project, a hobby, an interest that can come into fruition as a side hustle.
  • Contemplate if you require a change in career. It is worthwhile to deliberate over a seemingly dramatic move if none of the strategies above leave a desired effect. If you feel that your job is abstaining you from achieving greater heights, whether it being in terms of a personal or career development, precipitating your own demise may not be of surprise. People tend to think that remuneration is the only factor that is keeping someone in their respective jobs, but it could also stem from psychological elements such as a supposed “loss of reputation, prestige and status” of leaving a career path that you’re being wired and accustomed to. Switching career roles during midlife may be intimidating but only you know yourself the best, eliminating the risks you have in mind; in all probability, the unused skills and expertise you have in hand may bring you greater career prospects if you decide to take that leap of faith.

In a nutshell, it is undoubtedly conventional to experience a midlife career dysphoria after decades of churning the corporate wheels, fret not, because you’re never alone in this situation, thousands or maybe even millions of people worldwide face the exact same creeping syndrome. You are the captain of your own ship and only you can determine your own path, knowing which undertakings would best suit you – you will come to find that you have more to offer to the world than you initially thought.

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Why you should consider career opportunities in Chongqing

 

Positioned at the confluence of Asia’s economic markets, Chongqing is the largest of China’s four municipalities. What’s more, it has seen a year-on-year double digit GDP of 11% reflecting its rapid growth and development.

A vibrant and unique city

Touted as the world’s fastest growing tourism city according to the World Travel & Tourism Council, Chongqing is the gateway to the stunning Three Gorges reservoir and home to alluring valleys.[1] Its location in the Sichuan region also makes it a great place to enjoy simmering hotpot dishes. Thrill-seekers can expect the American-owned Six Flags amusement park franchise to open an adrenaline-pumping space here in 2020.[2]

WeChat Image_201805240951225

The Chongqing region is identified as one of the focuses under China’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) for socioeconomic development, with a mandate for greater urbanization and connectivity by strengthening its shipping centers in the Yangtze River, the longest river in Asia.

Chongqing is a key inland transportation hub for the Belt and Road Initiative which connects Western/Southeast Asia, Africa and Europe. The recent Belt & Road Chongqing Brand Expo 2018 drawing 20,000 visitors highlighted the city’s auspicious position as the intersection of the Silk Road Economic Belt, Indo-China Peninsula Economic Corridor and Yangtze River Economic Belt.

westernchinaairport

Transport options abound with Jiang-bei International Airport located in the heart of the city, over 150 trains passing through daily to connect major cities like Beijing and Shanghai, and 6 easily navigable subway lines linking Chongqing’s 9 districts, just to name a few. The huge investment in connectivity here has, in turn, attracted investment from other cities in China.[3]

Establishing a career in Asia’s largest smart city

Primed to be Asia’s largest smart city and also China’s pilot city to apply Big Data Intelligence by 2020, Chongqing hosted the Smart China Expo in 2018 which welcomed key personalities in business and tech such as Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Tencent’s Pony Ma.[4] Recently, Alibaba partnered with a local bank to develop financial service apps and Tencent announced its 1,000-strong workforce in the city, an increase from the previous figure of 400.[5] The presence of these MNCs here is testament to the growth potential of Chongqing—you certainly want to get on board this wave of progress!

 Incentives for talents

Career opportunities are impressive as the local government seeks to attract worldwide talents. The launch of the Hongyan Talent Plan in 2017 is a major factor: it offers monetary incentives based on industry classification, services around investment and financing, eligibility for resident visa and household status, medical services and more.

Hong Yan cover

Eligible talents (those who meet skillset requirements and sign an employment contract of a minimum of 3 years in Chongqing) can apply for the Chongqing Talent Service Card. This helps with household registration based on the available range of accommodation selections in expat-preferred areas, residential visa privileges, finding employment for spouse/children, schooling privileges and preferential medical arrangements. Entrepreneurs are also given support via tech initiatives, project financing, loan subsidies and more.

Those with children or looking to start a family can choose from a good variety of established international schools catering to ages from nursery to tertiary. Medical care is also just a ring away with most major serviced apartments having 24-hour call services with doctors on standby.

Achieving success

Adapting to life in Chongqing is easier than imagined with the availability of expat support networks and activities. These might include café meetups to get to know fellow expats in a relaxed setting, or even marathon races, seminars and conventions.[6]

Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned expat, keep an open mind and be willing to explore. Get rid of any preconceptions you may have and you might learn something new along the way!

In terms of business etiquette which can be delicate in Chinese tradition, here are some tips to follow:[7]

  • 关系 (guānxì) or strong relationships is particularly important in China—this may involve several meetups which could involve informal lunches/dinners to achieve your objectiveGuan Xi
  • If you are new, it helps to have an intermediary as most Chinese don’t conduct business with people they don’t know
  • Small talk is common and expected before meetings, instead of just getting to the point
  • Maintain composure and avoid strong displays of emotion, as losing and gaining ‘face’ is a key Chinese concept
  • Enter meeting rooms in order of seniority; the person entering first is usually the head
  • ‘Yes’ doesn’t always mean yes, and ‘no’ is only said in private

With practice and over time, these customs will naturally come to you.

With a plan dedicated to attracting world-class talents to this lively city brimming with opportunity, Chongqing is definitely a place you should consider for your next career move!

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Sources:

[1] Source: https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/chongqing-china-tourism/index.html

[2] Source: https://investors.sixflags.com/news-and-events/press-releases/2018/04-24-2018-213034885

[3] Source: https://www.internations.org/chongqing-expats/guide/working-in-chongqing-18651

[4] Source: http://en.people.cn/n3/2018/0830/c90000-9495761.html; https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/chongqing-to-host-smart-china-expo-boosting-development-of-big-data-technology-300699414.html

[5] Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Business-Trends/China-s-top-tech-flocks-to-inland-cities-to-develop-AI

[6] Source: http://www.cqexpat.com/

[7] Source: https://www.todaytranslations.com/doing-business-in-china; https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/27/etiquette-tips-for-doing-business-in-china.html; https://cnbusinessforum.com/chinese-business-etiquette-101-business-china/