Something’s missing but you’re not sure what? Despite wearing your superhero cape and supporting everyone else you are feeling overwhelmed and overworked! You maybe feel that you have no balance and no breathing space in your life? Or perhaps that you have lost some confidence, not sleeping well and feeling anxious? These can all be signs of a midlife crisis. For many of us, it is compounded by the changing view we have of ourselves, as we struggle to balance care for our children, who may now be entering those difficult teenage years, with possible new concerns about supporting ageing relatives. Apparently, the average age of a female midlife crisis, (once thought to be the preserve of men!) is 44 and the average age of divorce is 42! People are living longer and wanting more from life and the decade from the 40s to 50s has become a time of re-assessment for many of us. But what is a mid-life crisis and how can we view it an opportunity to create a better life rather than a threat?
Many people feel that they have forgotten the ‘real them’ and lost touch with what makes them happy. It is a time to re-evaluate who we are and what we want from life. For some, it comes down to wanting to wind back the clock to a time when we were young and had fewer responsibilities! Of course, the disposable income that comes from being mid-career helps with the Glastonbury festival ticket and expensive travel habit! Did you know that the average age of a Glastonbury attendee is 39 years and 10 months? And that going is listed as one of the signs that you are having a midlife crisis!
Other key signs of midlife are, worrying that someone younger will steal your job or clients, and thinking about quitting your job and buying a B&B! Apparently, the average age of a female midlife crisis, (once thought to be the preserve of men!) is 44 and the average age of divorce is 42! People are living longer and wanting more from life and the decade from the 40s to 50s has become a time of re-assessment for many of us. But what is a mid-life crisis and how can we view it an opportunity to create a better life rather than a threat
Midlife is a time for ‘uh oh’ moments when we realise that this is it and that while we have been busy looking after others and building our careers and businesses, the time has been passing quickly. It can be the start off noticing changes in our bodies and not feeling as attractive as we used to. With friends, I have discussed how we have suddenly started to feel invisible, and this can be a double-edged sword if it happens at the same time as our daughters start to get the admiring looks! This changing view of our own attractiveness and mortality can be depressing. Youth is often seen as a period of endless possibility, whilst maturity can inspire regret and as we consider what has passed us by and this can lead to frustration, a change in attitude and resentment. It can strike at the core of who we are and trigger our stress responses of flight or fight!
My own personal mid-life crisis was not particularly dramatic. No high profane affair or expensive surgery for me. It happened in my early forties and was triggered by my youngest starting senior school and finding myself feeling isolated; no longer having the comfort of the daily school playground contact and routine, that I had moaned about for years! Realising that my own business did not satisfy me and I did not have the skills or passion for developing it further, I went in opposite direction. I decided I wanted the big corporate role, with the regular salary and executive benefits! One last go at the corporate thing before it is too late! If you had told me, I was having a mid-life crisis, I would have laughed and told you to get a grip! A midlife crisis seems so out there! So flamboyant! So ridiculous! I had an urge to get my career going again, to belong to something bigger and feel I was making a contribution! Yet, I had, in a previous couple of years, lost my younger brother to a brain haemorrhage and indulged in a racy blue soft top car!
I personally, don’t like the association of the word ‘crisis’ and looked at it as just the next step. I encourage you to consider it as a period of transition and a time to reflect on the past and plan for a long, healthy and fulfilling next stage of life.
Eight years on from returning to the corporate world, I’m back to running my own business but my agenda has changed, I am now psychologically in a different place again! Do I regret my choices, absolutely not! I did what I wanted to do and I learnt a great deal and made some fabulous friends.
Of course, not everyone experiences a midlife crisis. Some people sale through without a backwards glance. However, I find that some of my clients are being triggered into coaching by ‘Big Birthdays’, generally those that end in a zero! This can lead to the desire to reconnect with themselves, reassess relationships, make the world a better place, create a simpler life or find their purpose. As we start to live longer we need to consider how we spend our time here on this lovely planet.
What should you do if this sounds very familiar?
If this sounds familiar, then here is what you can do to help navigate the change.
- Try to view it as a new beginning, rather than the ending of being young. This can be an exciting time in your life if you choose to look at this way.
- View your life as an expedition, you have come to a place where there are a number of options for you to take and each will lead you somewhere new.
- Some of these new paths are, perhaps, gentle strolls along similar territory.
- Whilst others may mean doubling back to places you’ve been before or changing direction completely.
- So stop now and pull out a map or use your GPS to plot where you want to go.
- Whilst you are pausing, take the time to smell the roses! Be present in your life, appreciate all the good things you have. Think about how lucky you are to be alive at this moment in time.
- If you are lost and don’t know which route to take then ask for help. Don’t keep going without any sense of direction.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog. Please feel free to leave comments below. If you would like to hear more from me, sign up for my fortnightly newsletter.