Whether you consider it a crisis or an opportunity, there is no doubt that midlife is a time of new challenges. A period in which we take stock of our life. Sometimes it’s a chance to reboot ourselves in a more fulfilling way but, more often than not, this particular time can be a bit of a rollercoaster.
How can we make the most of this stage of life?
According to Harvard professor and author of “From Strength To Strength Finding Success, Happiness and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life“, Arthur C. Brooks, the key to enjoying the second act of our life to the fullest is by focusing mostly on what growing older may give to us, rather than what it has taken away. Accepting our age and recognizing the new abilities that naturally develop after age 40, should propel us towards new goals and projects.
“Stagnation, which can lead to a crisis – he explains- happens when you try to fight against time, whether you’re desperately trying not to look older or struggling against changes in your skills and strengths“.
Another way for him to avoid midlife meltdowns is to “choose subtraction, not addition“. In midlife, we should step away from voluntary duties and responsibilities, and make more time to think, read, and love.
“Midlife is the point at which your medium of choice should change from a canvas to a sculpture – he says-. in which the work of art appears as a result of chipping away, not adding. This is hard to do when you have accepted a lot of responsibilities at work and at home. But I have found that in many cases, the most important impediment to chipping away is a belief that success = more. In middle age, this is bad math“.
Basically, people respond to a midlife crisis in different ways, but it typically involves a change in the way that they act and feel, and in their attitude to life. By using this time as an opportunity to re-examine your values and sense of purpose, the process of transition to another stage in life may be much smoother. Don’t judge your situation on others’ expectations or compare it to other people’s – they probably have their own doubts and insecurities, but reappraise previous life structures to make revisions when needed.
Midlife dissatisfaction is not something exceptional. It’s not something that is happening as a personal crisis. It might be just a normal developmental stage. It’s only by accepting this transition we can carve out our new future.