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Q I’m a mid­dle-aged man and feel like I’m al­most in­vis­i­ble at work. I’ve been in the same pro­fes­sional role for over 15 years and even though I con­sider my­self very ex­pe­ri­enced and al­ways do the job to the best of my abil­ity, I am over­looked for pro­mo­tions. Younger, less ex­pe­ri­enced col­leagues al­ways seem to get their ideas heard over mine, while it’s taken for granted that I will just get on with the job. This is mak­ing me feel re­sent­ful and un­ap­pre­ci­ated. Is there any­thing I can do to change things?

A This is an is­sue for many peo­ple in the sec­ond half of their ca­reers; they feel their in­flu­ence wane and a grow­ing sense that youthful ex­u­ber­ance and ideas outdo ma­tu­rity and ex­pe­ri­ence when it comes to get­ting the ear of the boss.

In some ways, you should be flat­tered that they see you as a ‘safe pair of hands’ who can be re­lied upon to do the job prop­erly, but that can also make you feel put upon, es­pe­cially if oth­ers seem to out­shine you with words as op­posed to deeds.

You de­scribe your­self as feel­ing ‘in­vis­i­ble’, but I won­der how far you have looked in­wardly for the causes of this, rather than plac­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity for how you feel onto oth­ers? It’s very easy to lay the blame else­where when we feel re­sent­ful, but one of the most pow­er­ful ways of chang­ing things is to look at what you can do to take con­trol of the sit­u­a­tion. Af­ter all, your own be­hav­iour is the only thing that you can truly in­flu­ence and it’s a good place to start look­ing for so­lu­tions.

You can ini­ti­ate this process by be­ing ob­jec­tive. You said you have been do­ing the job for 15 years. In this time, you have ob­vi­ously gained ex­pe­ri­ence and that is in­valu­able. But, you may also be fa­tigued and bored by it all, in a job you can do with your eyes closed that doesn’t re­ally stim­u­late you any­more.

By con­trast, those who are newer to it will nat­u­rally have a fresher out­look and per­haps be more in-touch with what is cur­rent in the pro­fes­sion. The key is to try and tap into this en­ergy to re-en­er­gise your­self. Why not sug­gest to your boss that you men­tor new col­leagues? That way you can share your ma­ture ex­pe­ri­ence and guide them in those daunt­ing first months whilst at the same time giv­ing your­self the op­por­tu­nity to en­gage with new ideas, new per­son­al­i­ties and re­gain a sense of in­flu­ence.

Work is im­por­tant, but it’s not ev­ery­thing. You don’t men­tion any­thing else but work and I sense that per­haps you need to achieve a greater bal­ance in your life.

Mak­ing the most of life be­yond the of­fice is so im­por­tant to our sense of well-be­ing and strength­ens so­cial bonds. Rather than work­ing harder to prove your­self at work, why not shift your per­spec­tive and your pri­or­i­ties to fo­cus on what you do in your spare time? Throw­ing your­self into a new hobby, ac­cept­ing in­vi­ta­tions or mak­ing them your­self, spend­ing time with peo­ple you con­nect with on a so­cial rather than a work foot­ing, will all do much to im­prove how you feel about your­self and boost the con­fi­dence you feel you’ve lost.

Fi­nally, it’s im­por­tant to re-eval­u­ate what your goals are. Be­ing in a job for that length of time some­times means hopes and dreams get lost in the day-to-day. So, ask your­self: What do you want to achieve in the next five years?

The an­swer might not come in­stan­ta­neously – so stick with it, but do try and de­fine what you want the fu­ture to hold. If you don’t know the desti­na­tion, you won’t know the route re­quired to take you there. It’s im­por­tant to have some­thing to aim for and plan for, so that you have real pur­pose. Shift the onto your­self. You clearly still have a lot to of­fer, you just have to let oth­ers see it.

Throw­ing your­self into a new HOBBY, ac­cept­ing in­vi­ta­tions or mak­ing them your­self, spend­ing TIME with peo­ple you con­nect with, will all help im­prove how you feel about your­self and BOOST your con­fi­dence

RUS­SELL HEM­MINGS is a life coach, and clin­i­cal and cog­ni­tive be­havioural hyp­nother­a­pist

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