A philosopher and an economist tell Julie Gould about strategies to tackle the mid-career malaise.

Life satisfaction can hit rock bottom in midlife before bouncing back as our ageing brains start to feel less regretful about missed opportunites, says Hannes Schwandt, a health economist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Kieran Setiya, a philosopher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, adds that the mid-career stage can be dominated by having to juggle both urgent and important tasks, some of which have no definite endpoint. These can quickly mount up and become overwhelming, with non-work-related pressures swallowing up increasing amounts of time, he adds.

In the fourth episode of Muddle of the Middle, a six-part Working Scientist podcast series, host Julie Gould wonders whether this mid-career stage is like a second puberty, a time of confusion and frustration. “It might be worth reaching out to some of those people who have gone through it and come out the other side,” she suggests.

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