Prior research shows that mid-career professionals experience more negative emotions such as regret, confusion, disappointment, frustration and anger than positive feelings. Yet, many mid-career professionals are flourishing in their careers and not experiencing such negativity. The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of five professionals who self-identify as flourishing in mid-career. This study also addressed the literature gap concerning mid-career professionals who are flourishing. Prior studies did not utilize the up-to-date model of flourishing and specifically, Seligman's well-being theory and its PERMA-H (positive emotions, engagement, positive relationships, meaning, achievement, and positive physical health) model, to understand the elements that professionals perceive to have contributed to their flourishing and what role those elements have played in their flourishing.

The researcher conducted virtual, unstructured interviews using open-ended questions. A purposive sampling strategy was used for this study, with data collected from a total of five interviews of participants from different professionals with ten-to-fifteen years of experience in the workforce who considered themselves to be flourishing.

Through thematic analysis, five themes were found to describe how mid-career professionals experience the six elements of the PERMA-H model and what role those elements play in their flourishing. The five themes are: (a) interconnectedness of the PERMA-H elements; (b) carving out time; (c) continuous growth and life-long learning; (d) achievement if accompanied by other elements; and (e) character strength and virtues. The conclusions are: (a) the lived experiences of flourishing mid-career professionals suggest interconnectedness between all the PERMA-H elements, (b) flourishing mid-career professionals carve out time for meaningful things and relationships, (c) flourishing mid-career professionals demonstrate continuous growth and life-long learning, (d) while flourishing mid-career professionals value achievement, achievement needs to be accompanied by other PERMA-H elements, and (e) beyond the PERMA-H elements, flourishing mid-career professionals demonstrate character strengths and virtues. Conclusions related to flourishing during the mid-career years are presented. The study ends with recommendations for mid-career professionals on how to flourish and implications for organizational leaders on cultivating flourishing in the workplace.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Mid-career -- Attitudes; Success; Well-being -- Age factors

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Paula Thompson