For many, mid-life change is like a hermit crab changing shell! What lessons might we learn?

The hermit crab is a powerful metaphor for reinventing your career in mid-life. It resonates strongly with a lot of people in this position.

Over time, the hermit crab can feel its shell getting tighter and tighter. It feels squashed and uncomfortable. It knows it needs to find a better shell but feels anxious about heading out into the open. Which shell should it scuttle into? Will it make it survive the journey? Will the new shell even be a better fit than the old one?

Many mid-lifers feel the same:

  • I am unhappy and dissatisfied now, but will something else be any better?
  • My life and work just don’t seem to fit me any more.
  • The idea of doing the same thing for the next 15-20 years of my life terrifies me.
  • I feel drained by the idea of staying where I am, and I feel drained by the idea of having to find something else.
  • I wish I knew what I really wanted instead. I wish I knew the right time to make a move.

The prospect of making a shift can be daunting though.

Like the hermit crab, you need to be sufficiently uncomfortable to let go of the past and head out into the lesser known.

Like the hermit crab, you need to be vulnerable and out in the open for a while to dis-cover a better shell.

Like the hermit crab, you need to try something new on for size, even if it’s only for a while.

Like the hermit crab, you will still be you, but with more space.

But unlike the hermit crab, some people don’t need a whole new shell, they just need to create more space or capacity in their current one.

Whether it’s a new shell you need or more space in your current one, evidence shows that choice and control are key.

By making deliberate and informed choices before it’s too late, you can make a real difference to your health, fulfilment, happiness, cognition and wealth.

You will have made transitions in your life before, but the timing makes this transition different – more multi-directional, more complex, more important, more about me.

By pausing and really paying attention to how your ‘shell’ fits you now – the pressure points, the size, the shape, the orientation, the squeeze – you can lay the foundations to begin thinking differently and for dis-covering what next.

To learn more, please check out my book: Dancing with fear and confidence: How to liberate yourself and your career in midlife – available now: ( (

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