So what is a mid-life crisis, and how can we avoid the perils it may cause in our lives to derail us from the goals and happiness we want. Recently I've been focusing on ten thoughts in my life that are holding this crisis at bay, and are generating positive action in my life.
According to Wikipedia the following is true about a midlife crisis,
Midlife crisis is a term first coined by Elliott Jaques referring to a critical phase in human development during the forties to early sixties, based on the character of change points, or periods of transition. The period is said to vary among individuals and between men and women. Despite popular perception of this phenomenon, empirical research has failed to show that the midlife crisis is a universal experience, or even a real condition at all.
According to psychologist and writer Oliver Robinson, a life crisis is defined as a period characterized by unstable mental and emotional health, altering the course of their lives and affecting them for a year or longer. Life crises usually have similar characteristics for each age group. Those in the early midlife stage are more likely to experience the deaths of loved ones, while declines in physical strength and vitality and impending death or work stoppage are more likely to affect people in late midlife. Effects of crises vary from being beneficial to some and life altering in a negative way for others. About half the people studied found results of their crises to be positive.
Midlife is also significant as a time adults come to realize their own mortality. A mid-life crisis is experienced by some people as they realize they have reached a midpoint in their lifespan and experience conflicts or dissatisfaction within themselves because of unrealized goals, self-perceptions or physical changes as a result of aging or health issues. Sometimes, a crisis can be triggered by transitions such as andropause or menopause, the death of parents or other causes of grief, unemployment or underemployment, realizing that a job or career is hated but not knowing how else to earn an equivalent living, or children leaving home. Additionally, when experiencing a mid-life crisis, people may reassess their achievements in terms of their dreams. The result may be a desire to make significant changes in areas such as career, work-life balance, marriage, romantic relationships, finances, or physical appearance.
I'm 45, so I'm right in that perfect window to experience that famous midlife crisis. I suppose it's only natural to look at your life because when you enter the middle portion of life there are numerous changes that occur. I'm starting to recognize changes in my parents that make me realize that time is passing quickly, my body doesn't look like it did when I was running with a bunch of Marines in my twenties, hair is growing where hair shouldn't be growing, I've realized that I'm not that dumb young kid anymore that doesn't know anything because I know at least one thing, and for those of us with kids they're becoming independent as they ration their hugs and kisses. At least some of your kids are becoming independent. My three year old daughter thinks she is more each day, but I'm just contemplating how much Geritol I'll need to keep up with her as she grows. :) Therefore, our lives are often referred to as races because we run through various stages, experience the highs and lows, and must possess both the right mindset and perseverance to finish the race with a sense of pride and satisfaction.
I'm not sure where you are in the age spectrum, but here are 7 ways that has helped me to continue running successfully through the middle stage of my life's race.
- Stay Positive - Remember it's just a phase on life on your journey to a successful lasting legacy. When you allow your mind to look at your current circumstances with a positive perspective, new opportunities can be realized that will propel your success into the next decades of your life.
- Evaluate Your Successes - Everyone can immediately remember the times that they've failed in life, and sadly those events usually sit in the forefront of our minds. To avoid succumbing to the challenge of a midlife crisis focus on your successes both big and small. These events should help you remember the amazing journey you've had that has resulted in a number of achievements that should make you swell with pride.
- Remember You're Important - This may sound strange, but think about the reasons why a midlife crisis may occur for someone. What's the catalyst? When we truly look at the cause it stems from a feeling of inadequacy. Not just tied to your successes and failures, but sometimes a sense that you don't matter. That's a bunch of @#$%! Think about all the people in your life that love you. Not because of what you've done, but purely because of the special person you are that brings joy to their life. Focusing on how important you are will keep the crisis at bay, and should help you look in the mirror with a smile.
- Rediscover an Interest or Talent - When life gets busy, as it does when you enter the middle stages of life, things you enjoyed doing sometimes fall by the wayside. I remember as a kid my Dad would come to our sporting events, work in the yard, go to work, volunteer to be a part of a committee. What I don't remember is my Dad getting to take many chances to play golf or go fishing. Now that I'm at this point in my life I fully understand why because he was sacrificing those interests for the family he loved. I'm sure we're all doing that, but we also need to remember what it's like to go back to that thing we once loved. Taking time to sit a the piano, take out the sketch pad, play a sport you enjoy, or spend time in the outdoors may be some of the lost joys that need to be rekindled in our lives. Preventing a midlife crisis can happen when we make time create the balance the play and work in our lives.
- Manage Your Stress - That seems to be a constant theme these days with the increased demands people are experiencing in their personal and professional lives. Each of is very unique, and respond to the stress in our lives very differently. The key is to find a healthy mechanism that fits your needs, and works to minimize the negative stress that is impacting your life. Here is link to a couple of things that may be beneficial to you 4 ways using your mind can reduce your stress and The story behind stress
- Make a Difference - We all need to feel life our life means something. That's the whole reason for the midlife crisis in the first place. We get to a point in our lives where we question what we've done for others, for our community, and to make ourselves better people. During the stage of life when these feelings and questions arise it's easy to dismiss any negativity if you're actively involved in making a difference. That can be by being the most nurturing person you can to those important in your life, seeking out a cause that drives positive change, or work on your own personal development. By becoming better people the other two actions will naturally occur.
- Make a Plan - It's like training for that 5k you want to successfully complete to prove you haven't become some tired old fart. It will never happen if you don't figure out the time and effort it will take to realize your goal or dream. Therefore, we need to make a plan of how we will navigate our race through the middle section of our life to avoid that looming midlife crisis. Start thinking about the things that are important to you in your life or the changes that you haven't quite achieved. List out these goals or dreams with a specific action of how you can make them a reality as you continue running your race. Have fun, and start filling that bucket. Races are much like life, there's a lot of anticipation and preparation that occurs for something that seems to happen so quickly if you're just sitting in the stands. Let's hop on the track and make this a race to remember.
Here's some of the things that I jotted down after pondering how I've been running my race.
- I want to tell the important people in my life how much I love them everyday.
- I want to let my daughter know why making choices in life is so important to our futures.
- I want my daughter to know she will always have our love no matter what she does.
- I want to share with my daughter what I believe is true about hope, love, and faith.
- I want to challenge myself everyday to look for ways to impact the world positively.
- I want to show another person kindness everyday.
- I want my wife to know she is the glue that holds my world and heart together.
- I want to take risks even when those around me can't understand my hopes and dreams.
- I want to provide a positive interaction with every person that crosses my path.
- I want to write down my story, so my daughter will see the amazing joy we can have in life.