Today we’re going to talk about the infamous mid-life crisis. Why do we hit this point in our lives – this genuine crisis – and why does it trigger us to act in such extremes? And finally, 4 ways you can sidestep a midlife crisis!
The Midlife Crisis
The midlife crisis is a bit of an eye-roll at this point, it feels like a childlike tantrum, but we call it a crisis because that’s really what it feels like. If you’re looking at a U-chart representing the happiness you feel over the course of your life, your middle years are the lowest point on that U curve.
What Causes the Midlife Crisis?
No two paths in life are the same. Depending on circumstances like whether or not you pursued higher education, and if so, when you finish school (typically around 22 years old), you are then expected to seek stability. You’re thrust into the real world and tasked with navigating finances in a way you hadn’t been responsible for before.
The midlife crisis emerges from this lack of stability or lack of fulfillment. That is when you see people spending small or absurd amounts of money in an effort to find what they didn’t get emotionally or relationally. Possibly just as 20 year olds spend their time reflecting on their childhoods, midlifers (people in their mid to late 40’s) spend time reflecting on their 20’s to where they are now. If, upon that reflection, you come away feeling disappointed, that’s when you might see a midlife crisis emerge.
What does a midlife crisis look like?
Although we talk about how men and women typically experience a midlife crisis differently as we know it, gender doesn’t automatically decide how you feel about aging. The midlife crisis for men might involve fancy cars or unfinished household projects. A midlife crisis for women sometimes looks like changes to their physical appearance.
So, how can you avoid this midlife crisis pitfall?
4 Ways to Be Happy in Middle Age and Avoid a Midlife Crisis
1. Nurture meaningful relationships and invest in what makes you happy.
- Make time for your friends – don’t blow off a close friend’s birthday or your monthly drinks with your friends because you’re tired after a long workweek. The work may not make you happy in the long run, but a nurtured friendship will.
- Invest your time and energy in the things that matter to you, unrelated to your career climb.
2. Let go of unrealistic expectations.
- By accepting your strengths and weaknesses and letting go of the infeasible aspirations from when you were younger, you may be happier with your life.
3. Commiserate with your friends.
- You’re not alone in your midlife anxiety; it’s perfectly normal. Stop beating yourself up about it!
- Talk about your feelings with your friends – find community in this shared feeling and know that it is fleeting.
4. Live for the moment.
- Instead of thinking of life as a series of tasks you’re supposed to complete—get married, have kids, buy a house—try to see life as a series of possibilities. We have a habit of both berating ourselves when we don’t hit traditional life markers (marriage, etc.) on our self-imposed schedule and stressing out about those things (kids, etc.) when we accomplish them.
- Stop putting energy into the past and look at what you have in front of you.