You can’t have a BIG birthday and not face the music about having a midlife crisis. Your family and friends won’t let you.
You’ll be sprayed with all kinds of well-wishes, sentiments, and mementos that tell you you’ve now reached the age where you’re officially over the hill.
And trust me, you will feel it. It hits us all contrarily at different times. But it hits. And when it does, it hits HARD.
Midlife is a time of our lives roughly defined by the ages of 43 to 60. It’s a difficult time when we transition to a space where we realize we have more of the road behind us then we have laid out in front.
According to an article in the Harvard Business Review on midlife, we all face two opposing myths that underlie our fears.
Myth #1: Midlife is the onset of decline
This is rooted in a wildly outdated misconception. According to this myth, we’ve reached a point where we are ending our productive lives as we near retirement. We set our sights on a goal, a retirement number for when we consider our lives to “officially” be over. Whether it be 65, 75 or 85, we see that as our worst case scenario, setting up the remainder years as the downhill road.
Myth #2: Midlife is a magical transformation
This myth has been fueled by millions of self-help books, articles, training programs, and gurus that sell the illusion that if people have enough willpower and vision, they can transform into anybody they want to be. We see case studies all the time about doctors that magically become world recognized pianists, or lawyers that start up billion dollar tech companies overnight. Because these stories make us believe there are plenty of real-life human beings out there living the life of their dreams, we have fears and doubts when it doesn’t magically materialize for us too.
All of a sudden you hit this magical age – 50 for example – and you begin fretting about the two myths interchangeably. You want change, NEED change, desperately want change in your life, but you’re super afraid to do anything about it because your best years are already behind you.
Then your family and friends fuel the fire by saying something stupid like:
“You’re going to do WHAT? How could you even think about that with bills to pay, a crushing mortgage, kids to put through college, and a retirement to fund? You can’t make that kind of change NOW!”
What’s a person to do?
We know we want something else.
We desire a simpler life
We want to rekindle old friendships
We want to meet new people that can help us grow and become even better
We don’t care as much about material things
We’re happier with the way we look and the way we are
We crave changing one thing about our appearance we’ve never liked
We want to take action on great causes
We dream about a better life
We worry we’re not acting our age
We daydream about new careers and different positions
We realize our health means everything
We worry about being worse off in retirement than our parents
We want to start a business that lets us have fun every day
We crave our hobbies
We desire to look younger than we are or how we feel
We want to give to things that matter most
We try out extreme sports or other hardcore challenges to test ourselves
We get distracted easily
We crave information and knowledge, and get it any way we can
We begin looking for things that really motivate us
We become more obsessed with bucket lists, goals, and dreams
We would give it all away for the chance to travel
We want what we don’t have, daydream about it all the time
We do something totally out of character, just because
We finally take action on something big, figuring “why not?”
All of a sudden, we learn life is too short.
But lucky for us, we realize it.
We know we don’t have to be on a downward spiral. Not really. Not if we don’t want to. We can hire personal trainers and join yoga classes. We can talk to our natural health care providers about bioidentical hormones. We can take supplements to a new level to look better AND feel better.
We can do anything we choose, just because.
That doesn’t mean everything. Just the one thing that really captures your attention right now. It might be a new relationship or a new job. It might be a move to a new city or a new country. It might be starting a hobby or building a new business.
What’s the one thing you want to do RIGHT NOW?
Then do it.
Just because you can.