Have you had your mid-career crisis yet? If not, why not? The only good excuse is you just started your career or you are in the process of ending your career. Everyone else needs to get on with it.

An optometrist’s mid-career crisis often seems to be triggered by a single adverse event. For example, you may have had a bad online review, perhaps posted by your wife when you forgot your anniversary. I may or may not be speaking from personal experience. But it was not my fault. Ruth, who owned a gift shop next to my office, was specifically instructed to remind me. This one is on you, Ruth.

Maybe your mid-career crisis was triggered by something quite important like the impending ice age or global warming or climate change or whatever they are calling it these days. Maybe your mid-career crisis was triggered by something that’s not as easy for politicians to manipulate like, I don’t know, COVID-19?

Whatever it is, there is certainly something. There are many, many common warning signs that you are entering your mid-career crisis phase. Here’s a few:

1. You start to like other people’s kids.

2. You start sitting in the front row at CE courses so nobody will talk to you.

3. You want a cat.

4. You donate to charity, but not for tax deduction purposes.

5. You consider taking up jogging again but order pizza instead.

6. You ignore your father’s advice to never clean the inside of your ear with a cotton swab.

7. You don’t try to convince that -11.00D myope to pay for scanning laser ophthalmoscopy. You just do it. 

8. You Google CBD.

9. You read about online eye exams and wonder what these companies would pay you to work there.

10. You buy a belt that’s not on sale.

11. You try to find your high school ring again.

12. You chat with the mailman.

13. You floss.

14. You don’t tell the patient who abuses his contacts not to do that (for the 12th time).

15. You blame the weather for a no-show.

16. You realize there’s more than one kind of CRT.

17. You stop ordering more khaki pants.

18. You realize the kids won’t ever shut up.

19. You don’t really care if the receptionist texts all day.

20. You beg off babysitting the grandchildren because the college cornhole championship is on TV.

21. You finally put your foot down and raise your exam fee by $50 even though it has zero effect whatsoever on what the vision plan pays you.

22. You pat yourself on the back for not having a beer with lunch—not just one anyway.

23. You lay yourself off.

24. You reenergize the practice with newer technology. They call it Netflix.

25. You protect your patients from COVID-19 by keeping them in the parking lot.

26. You relocate but cannot remember where you relocated.

27. You schedule an office meeting for all the doctors in your solo practice.

28. You have your techs do the refraction because they know more about vision than  you do. I should mention you have to become an ophthalmologist first.

Everyone has their triggers. Yours may not have made the list, and for that I apologize. There are just too many mid-career crisis catalysts to count. The point is that you should go ahead and have your mid-career crisis anyway. Then shake it off and get your psycho self back into the exam room. What matters is always in the next room.

Dr. Vickers received his optometry degree from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 1979 and was clinical director at Vision Associates in St. Albans, WV, for 36 years. He is now in private practice in Dallas, where he continues to practice full-scope optometry. He has no financial interests to disclose.