I’m 54 years old, and I think I’m having a midlife crisis! No, I haven’t bought a shiny, new car or purchased a toupee.
As a Mom of two college-aged children I’m realizing the family obligations, time spent working and financial responsibilities have put me in a place I never thought I would be – I have unfulfilled dreams that may never come true.
A woman I know said she lost herself in the priorities of getting kids up and out to school each day and making sure the house ran the way it should. She also wondered if the box of goals she closed long ago would ever open up again.
Some of my friends have thoughts about the idea of a midlife crisis:
“I have been in middle-age “uneasiness.” and “I see myself getting older and I don’t necessarily mind, but I wish I was in a different place physically, emotionally, spiritually. I question so much about my life and choices that seemed to be a good idea, but have not yielded the expected results.”
Midlife Health & Mindset Coach Becky Clabaugh says, “People are surprised at how trapped they feel in their lives. They forget to make themselves a priority.”
Many my age were led to believe anyone beyond 50 years old has to be fixed in her thinking, but I still want to grow and learn, so I wonder if that’s possible.
Perhaps this isn’t a crisis at all, but a transition to a second act.
Below are five suggestions to move beyond the crisis and start the metamorphosis:
1. Reconsider your priorities.
Phillippe Deiderich, Editor-In-Chief of VivaFifty.com recommends identifying your strengths and weaknesses. Barbara Bradley Hagerty, a veteran NPR reporter agrees saying, “At this age, you know what you’re good at and what needs improvement.”
People who have gone through their private truths of midlife passage don’t protect an inflexible position. They know what works, they can make decisions with brevity, and they have developed judgement enriched by experience.
Be curious about your every day tasks and consider those that could be added in or taken away to make you happier.
2. Pursue long lost dreams.
Middle age is the perfect time to pursue the dreams you abandoned long ago. Gail Sheehy (author of Passages) says secondary interests can blossom into serious lifework as a second act, “the point is to defeat the entropy that slows us down.”
Sit down and think about “what you wanted to be when you grew up.” If you haven’t yet gotten to that point, there may be ways to capture some or all of your goals back.
3. Take charge of your health.
Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP says, “Health is much more than the absence of illness” it is what gives us a sense of well-being. Without good health, we lack the energy to pursue happiness and stay engaged. She says health is the foundation of personal fulfillment, allowing us to grow and develop as we age.
Becky Clabaugh’s clients tell her they want energy to enjoy life. Rather than treating diminishing bodies, medicine should promote physical and mental fitness making health a tool for living your best life.
4. Consider shifting jobs, careers or starting a business.
If you love your job, great. For those searching for more purpose, consider looking within your company first. According to a Stanford University study, 55 percent of older adults equate paid work with a meaningful life. Changing your career may be the best investment you can make in your cognitive health, says Hagerty.
Creating a second career isn’t always about the money. Some middle-aged men and women choose second careers to “give back” to their communities to avoid midlife crisis issues. Sheehy says the paradox of life is that as we live longer, “business psychology” seeks to shrink our work span.
In either case, Laura Berman Fortang says, “career satisfaction doesn’t come from what you do. It comes from the person you get to be while you’re doing it.” Who your job allows you to be is what’s important.
The Kauffman Foundation explains Americans between 55 and 64 start new businesses at a higher rate every year than those in their 20s and 30s, and the trend is growing. New business startups present a greater opportunity to start a new career after 50.
5. Find your next purpose.
A Stanford University Graduate School study found that people over 50 want to live a more purposeful life. Many in middle age identify, prioritize, adopt and actively pursue goals that are both personally meaningful and contribute to the greater good in order to be more socially connected.
Allison Robenstein is a freelance writer and journalist who lives in Colorado. After working for 20 years in the Technology industry, she is living her second act and changed careers. Allison reports for the Our Community News in Colorado and Pikes Peak Newspapers, contributing monthly and weekly articles respectively on community events. She also creates blog content for local businesses. An active community volunteer, Allison has given her time to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak region and to the Alzheimer’s Association.