A midlife crisis is a great thing and it’s about time we celebrated it!
For too long the midlife crisis has been confined to cliche reasons for 50 year old guys having an affair with a 24 year old, buying a sports car, or deserting a relationship with no hint or warning. Sure, these symptoms can have something to do with it, but maybe if we celebrated the crisis a bit earlier on, it might not result in destructive behaviour.
Look around at our planet and you’ll see that life is about growth, adaptation, nourishing the new, transitioning, and celebrating the things that have thrived through the seasons and turmoil. There’s simply nothing that doesn’t change. Sadly, so many people get to their 40s and 50s and inadvertently put growth on hold. Sure, we all understand the pressures and commitments of mortgages, kids, jobs and visiting Aunt Daisy on Sunday afternoon when you could actually be snoozing on the couch. But we are designed to grow, to learn new things, to develop, to push ourselves, to adapt, to live with a sense of purpose and ultimately help make this World a better place?
Disclaimer: I’m not suggesting we quit our job, smoke weed and live off the local food bank either.
But here’s the thing: A midlife crisis creeps up and confronts us when we suppress the natural stimulus within to keep growing and continue the journey towards being the person we really want to be.
Take the test to see if you’re in a midlife crisis.
Of course, there’s times in life where we’re not afforded the luxury to just stop, focus on the big picture and contemplate World Peace, but if we put on hold who we really are for too long in the name of sacrifice and compromise we start to live a lie. We are not being true to our own self.
We suppress who we really are and pretend to be someone we’re not. Added to this, is the underlying and subconscious pressure from our nearest and dearest to keep the good times for them rolling. Of course they’re actually enjoying life – they love the stability, fun times with friends, growing older and simply being ‘normal’ like everyone else. How indulgent for us to contemplate destroying their happy bliss and start to think about who we’d really like to become?
Herein lies the seeds of confusion and the tension between the two worlds fighting to ensnare us into their gravitational pull. But what if ‘normal’ isn’t who we are? What if we’re suppressing who we are for the sake of our family and our own fears around growth and change? What if it’s too scary to do what we really want? What if we actually don’t believe in ourselves or our ability to take a risk? What if there are dreams and desires deep down that are unfulfilled and we see no way of ever achieving those?
Let the frustration and discontentment begin!
Added to this our 40s and 50s are a time when a number of truths confront us:
1. Time is running out – if I don’t pluck up the courage, face the fear and chart a course to become the person I’m meant to be soon, I’ll never do it. Endless time is no longer available. But I’m paralysed by fear, and too many other things haven’t worked. I’m trapped.
2. The goal posts are moving – our dreams and desires of our 20s and 30s don’t have the same pulling power as before. Our desires change. Being a slave to a job we don’t enjoy for the sake of providing and buying the nice house isn’t exciting anymore …. I want to have purpose in what I’m doing. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life unfulfilled.
3. Unfulfilled dreams - we didn’t become CEO of that Global corporation. Far from it, we’re stuck in middle management fighting insecure and political managers dealing with their own issues. My Husband or Wife has disappointed me – they don’t meet my needs and haven’t grown into the person I dreamt of them becoming. Life is hard, we’ve had some unfortunate situations and life just seems like a dark tunnel with no light at the end.
Here’s the thing – it’s not all about the rash big decision to solve the issues …. ditch the Husband or Wife, buy the Porsche, buy more shoes, have an affair, become a hippy or bury yourself in more work to get rid of the feelings inside. Quite the opposite in fact. Firstly it’s about understanding what’s going on so you can start a journey. Then, look at the many options you’ve got and understand deep down inside who you really are, your values, and what type of life, roles and responsibilities are aligned with who you are and make a plan. What do you need to do to transition out of and away from and what do you need to move towards? Who do you really want to be in five years’ time is the question, not what do you want to have?
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You’ve all heard about the Chinese characters that make up the word ‘crisis’ – danger and opportunity. I think this definition is so apt for those of us in our 40s and 50s. A midlife crisis is actually life nudging you to re-evaluate, take stock and ask yourself who you’d really like to become. What needs to change? Is fear holding me back? Have I been able to discuss this with my spouse or partner, and how can our lives together be much more enriched by making a slow transition? (Rather than letting the pressure build up inside and then a rash decision that could cost you your marriage, finances, job and happy future together).
Okay, so it’s not always as easy as that, but there’s a fight taking place inside you or your partner’s head and heart. This crisis is actually life pulling you forward. It’s an opportunity to step up and be the person the World is waiting for you to become.
For help on transitioning to the next phase, or if you want to take our free midlife crisis test (http://site.midlifegps.net/midlife-crisis-test) simply click on these links or visit us at midlifegps.net.