I’m in my late 40’s. Not young, not old …. middle aged. I’m not sure exactly how it happened but my young adulthood is in the rear view mirror and here I am, right smack bang in the middle of life.
My midlife period has brought with it a few challenges, such as:
- My body isn’t as bullet proof as it was and I notice the odd ache and pain when I get up in the morning.
- I can’t just eat anything I want these days. Quite often after the weekend it’s touch and go whether I’m going to fit into my work trousers.
- My daughter is rapidly approaching teenage-hood, and each week seems to bring a new parenting challenge.
- Our parents are not getting any younger and medical issues have become more regular.
- It’s become harder to stay in regular contact with my friends as some have moved away and all become involved in their own lives.
- Money seems to find its way out the door much faster than it comes in.
For many people the list of midlife difficulties also includes other problems such as strained or broken relationships, faltering businesses, loss of a job, unrealistic work demands, grief over the loss of loved ones, and more.
So far this looks like a pretty bleak picture. With the multiple strains and challenges that can surface in midlife it’s little surprise that studies show our happiness levels are at their lowest between the ages of 40 and 50. (See for example https://aifs.gov.au/publications/life-satisfaction-across-life-course-transitions)
The news is definitely not all bad though. Perhaps more than any other stage in life the midlife period can be immensely rewarding and can set us up for a very fulfilling second half of life, if we approach it the right way. As the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson says “this time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it”.
Some of the pleasant surprises midlife has brought for me are:
- I know myself really well these days, and have shed my attempts to try to prove myself to others by being someone I’m not.
- I’ve got 20+ years of adult experience under my belt and feel well set to put this to best possible use in the next 20+ years.
- My grey hair and other signs that I’m not straight out of university give me credibility which is useful in professional situations.
- I’m clear about what I’m good at and what I’m not so good at, which makes career choices much easier than they have been in the past.
- I’ve accumulated some first world luxuries such as a house, a car, a phone, and the obligatory Netflix subscription (I can’t wait for the next season of House of Cards).
- I have a wonderful, supportive family unit filled with love and mutual respect.
I believe the key to traversing the midlife period successfully is to stop and reflect rather than just blindly follow whatever path we may have been on. In my case I was “lucky” to have a health challenge a couple of years back which forced me to really stop and think.
Questions I found useful for this midlife reflection were:
- Where am I in my life?
- What do I have that I’m grateful for?
- What skills and abilities do I possess?
- What do I need that I don’t yet have?
- What’s most important to me?
- What do I want to do for the next 20 years?
- What do I need to change?
- What steps can I take now?
If you’re in or approaching midlife I hope you find the time to consider questions like these, appreciate the joy which is there to find in this period and use these years to build a great platform for the rest of your life.
If you can use some additional help to take stock of things and set yourself on a positive course through the middle years of life give Elephant Capability a call on 0400 917 167.
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