How to Avoid a Midlife Crisis

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Midlife is a time we come face to face with lots of things in our life. Some big triggers for what can feel like a big crisis at midlife include:

•An empty nest, or an empty house due to divorce or the unexpected loss of a partner/spouse, 

•The realization that you may never have the dream career you had hoped for, or 

•An unexpected health diagnosis, or your own mortality.

Midlife crisis is NOT an official medical diagnosis, which makes it challenging to conduct valid research about it. 

AND…not everyone feels like they have a midlife crisis! 

The term, midlife crisis, was coined by a Canadian psychoanalyst and organizational consultant, Elliott Jacques in a paper published in 1965. 

Research indicates about 25% of us think we might be having a midlife crisis. Sleepless nights, depression and stress-related health issues are just some of the typical symptoms. 

Whether or not you think you’re having a midlife crisis, some experts believe that there is a natural dip in our wellbeing at midlife --- a U-shaped curve in life satisfaction and happiness over our life cycle, according to several economic studies. 

Daniel Pink, author of 10 best-selling books, was quoted in a blog about the U-shape curve, saying, “we don’t have the research to support what is often called a “midlife crisis,” but that there are similar experiences akin to a slight dip or slump in our individual happiness at midlife that happens across the world when people experience certain things like empty nesting or realize their level of professional success (or lack thereof) in their 50’s.” 

While the severity of the dip involving our happiness and fulfillment is not life-threatening, it can be a period of sadness and personal adjustments that affect our health, our sleep and our productivity. It can have a negative effect on our relationships and hinder our ability to figure out “what’s next” or how to feel happier and more fulfilled. 

Pink suggested that we can make progress in lifting ourselves out of a slump by:

1. Focusing on our top 5 goals in life – don’t let too many goals, or confusion or a lack of being able to focus become a barrier that keeps you from figuring them out – it’s just as important to know what you don’t want, as to what you do want at midlife and beyond.

2. Stopping the comparison game --- ignore what they’re doing – remember that “comparison is the thief of joy.” 

3. Getting a mentor…someone more experienced and older who has already navigated phases of life you have yet to experience. We’re never too old to have a mentor we trust who can guide us because they’ve gone before us.

Some people will navigate midlife with greater ease than others; however, if you’re struggling with midlife changes or what feels like a bigger “dip” or “slump,” it’s most likely affecting your mental, emotional and physical health. 

We don’t automatically become irrelevant or less intelligent when we have a certain birthday. We owe it to ourselves to keep learning, developing skills and new interests so expand our world in ways that make us happy and fulfilled. 

Yes, it’s common sense to understand that you’re aging; however, it can also be an exciting time if you approach it with a mindset of curiosity and as an opportunity for growth. Midlife is a chance to reflect and evaluate the kind of life you’re living now, so you can close the gap on where you are, and where you want to be in your future.  

Midlife CAN be a CATALYST for creating a better life! We’re just not trained how to do it.

There is no fast, magical way to make transformations at midlife. The truth is it takes time to open your mind and heart to explore your deepest desires. It takes time to look in the mirror and honestly answer some tough questions that will most likely reveal some issues that you need to address. It takes commitment to follow through with intelligent action. Relying on willpower, motivation or vision boards will leave you disappointed.

Attending inspirational talks and getting all pumped about making changes at midlife can spark momentum; however, confusion and overwhelm can stop us from taking any meaningful action. Fear about doing the wrong things or failing at something new can keep us from moving forward.

The good news is that gut feeling about a dip in your wellbeing is the first step to being more aware of your desires to make changes at midlife. The key ingredient to your success in making changes is your mindset – your lens to the world. 

Why this is important? If we choose to have a positive lens, midlife can be a time of unprecedented opportunity for growth, joy and fulfillment in our life. Choosing to be open and curious at midlife can bring us more insights, ideas and creative opportunities and a whole lot more fun! 

Don’t let fear keep you from reinventing or making even small changes at midlife. 

If you’re thinking of making major changes in your life, such as ending a career and starting a new one, relocating, ending a long-term relationship, or you’re in the process of trying to figure out what’s next, make sure that your decisions are rooted in your own research, insights and experiences. 

You deserve to get the support you need at midlife.  Maybe for you that’s working with a coach or mentor who can help you figure out your priorities, focus on just a few goals, and help you be accountable to making progress. A mentor or coach can help you develop a positive mindset, beginning with no longer comparing yourself to others or what your life has been in the past. 

My own midlife experience was a catalyst for positive change and transformation years ago. 

I now coach other professionals how to do this successfully. Schedule a complimentary call with me by clicking here. Together, we can figure out if I can help you. At a minimum, I’ll be able to recommend some good next steps for you. I promise you that the call will be well worth your time. 


Jennell Evans, MA, CMMI | 
Leadership | Emotional Intelligence | Mindfulness | Advisor & Speaker

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