Friday, June 14, 2013

"The Experience of Vocational Alignment in Midlife: A Phenomenological Study"

Craig Nathanson, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

The experience of midlife adults who went through a major change in their work is examined in this dissertation. This research was conducted to investigate the experiences of those adults who in their midlife identified and followed a new vocational path which better aligned their work with their passions, interests, and abilities. The data collection process followed the Interpretative Phenomenological Approach in-depth personal interviews. Eight adults between the ages of 40 and 55 (four men and four women) participated.

The phenomenological analysis is based on building a series of sub-themes and master themes from the analysis of each of the eight interviews. Five major themes were identified. The themes were: 1) the experience of “treadmill” of life and work; 2) internal and external triggers pushed the need for change; 3) time for reflection, self-awareness, and self-care; 4) change was difficult; and 5) new beginning. The analysis suggests that midlife work change is difficult but necessary when the current work situation is not satisfying or meaningful for a person anymore.

Key Words: Midlife and work; work transition; career switch; finding vocation; meaning and work; mid-life change; self-reflection in midlife; joy, fulfillment, and happiness at work.

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