Mid-life Crisis: A new beginning

Most people would consider their 40s to be mid-life. Often this is a time of change. The kids may be grown and moving out. There may be a few grandchildren. And some of the physical changes associated with growing older may be more obvious.

For many people this period is merely accepted as a normal part of life. For others, this period creates a panic or mid-life crisis that can negatively affect future growth and success. Change, by definition, means that something will be different. In this case, the future will be different than the past. This can be a very scary thought, if you define yourself solely by past images.

“Young and sexy” may no longer be an appropriate description, but most people will agree they have learned a lot over the years. “If I knew then what I know now, things would have been different,” is a common statement. Adapting to the role of grandparent, another sign of advancing age, may also present a challenge. Not to mention the changing role of parent. Adult children may still “need” their parents, but in very different ways. They can value opinions, but not follow through exactly the way a parent thinks they should.

The good news is that knowledge gained in younger years – through education and/or experience – can translate into greater success and personal satisfaction in later years. The 40s can be seen as an end, a new beginning or a reshuffling of goals and priorities. How they are viewed is entirely up to the individual. In any case, it is a time to take stock of the past and plan for the future.

Change of any kind (mid-life, job loss, relationship loss, a birth, a death, an illness, a move) usually results in a period of reflection, self-evaluation and future planning. This is a time to acknowledge the change, assess the impact and decide how to deal with or adapt to this change. Managing this process correctly will result in increased success and happiness. Problems can arise, however, if we get stuck in reflection, are overly critical of ourselves with regard to the change, or refuse to look to the future.

A mid-life crisis, therefore, can either provide new opportunities for growth or become a permanent barrier to success. Developing strong personal strengths can ease the effects of a mid-life crisis.


Tips to Overcome a Mid-life Crisis:

Accept change as a part of life. Everything in life is subject to change. In many cases we cannot prevent it, but we can anticipate and prepare for change to the best of our abilities.

Acknowledge that the future is going to be different and use or develop personal strengths such as self-confidence and goal-setting to help adapt to the change.

Allow a time for reflection. What was good (and bad) about the past? What lessons have I learned? What would I have done differently? What will be different now?

Reflecting on the past is a valuable exercise. It’s fun to relive positive experiences and we can definitely learn from negative experiences. Living in the past, however, can be dangerous. If we don’t adapt to changes around us we may become overwhelmed by them. And over time, feelings of helplessness could become feelings of hopelessness.

Allow a time for self-evaluation. How do I see mid-life affecting me (physically, mentally, emotionally, financially)? Did I contribute to any negative aspects I am currently experiencing? If so, in what way? What mistakes did I make? What lessons did I learn from those mistakes?

Self-evaluation is a valuable tool, but only if the assessment is fair. We should definitely accept responsibility for our actions, but not take responsibility for the actions of others. Everyone makes mistakes, and few people have sole responsibility for a given situation.

Allow a time for future planning. Realistically, how would I describe personal success in the future? What goals would I like to accomplish? What changes, if any, do I want to make in my life? What strengths, skills or interests do I need or want to develop? How can I strengthen or develop healthy relationships? How can I better acknowledge and use my AREA of Control?

Read about people who have successfully dealt with similar changes, seek out a formal or informal support group and /or volunteer. Considering a variety of perspectives is always helpful in sharpening our own.

Always remember: Life after a mid-life crisis may not be the same, but it can still be rewarding and self-fulfilling.