The million dollar question I hear time and time again is: How do I know if this is a midlife crisis? Quickly followed by: Why do I feel so off all the time? I don’t even know who I am when I look in the mirror. I have worked so hard and I have nothing to show for it! I’m so lonely now that the house is quiet. I don’t even know what I want out of life now! I have nothing to talk to my husband about anymore. The list goes on and on.
And honestly if you are somewhere between the ages of 45-65, you’ve probably said at least one of those things to yourself, if not to a trusted friend.
The good news is all of those feelings are completely natural. It’s a very common process to question yourself as you transition from one season of life to another. And it drives me batty that everyone is quick to point out that it must be the start of a “midlife crisis”. Or even better…Let’s blame it on menopause!! I’m here to ask you to take a deep breath with me, (Seriously. Right now. I’ll wait) and relax. My guess is you are not necessarily ‘in crisis’. You are just unsure of what’s ahead and how you will handle it.
There are a few things you need to know.
You are not alone.
You are not crazy.
And there are some actions you can take that will relieve some of the anxiety and pressure you feel about aging.
The first step is just that, TAKE ACTION. Spending hours reading about how you feel, worrying about what’s to come, and planning what you are going to do about is not helping. You need to get up and actually DO something about it.
Even something as simple as getting outside and taking a 15 minute walk can clear your mind, help you feel better, and improve your focus.
If you are worried about your health, make a few healthier choices and schedule a check up with your doctor.
If you are concerned about money, see where you can make some changes in your finances or think about a side hustle that you would enjoy doing that could bring in a few extra bucks.
If you are lonely, volunteer, join a book club or exercise class, or reconnect with an old friend.
Whatever is troubling you, don’t just sit there and stew about it. Do something! It doesn’t need to be perfectly planned out.
Imperfect action is still a step in the right direction. Often it’s the imperfect action that will highlight the next step you should take.
The second thing is to let go of the past. We get so caught up in our story. Our thoughts are on repeat of all the ways we screwed up. We constantly remind ourselves of all the reasons why we aren’t good enough, and how the things we have done (or not done) in the past are evidence of that. That is simply a story that keeps getting played over and over again in our mind that is not true.
You have the capability to change at any given moment.
As you move ahead and make better choices, it’s important to be aware of all those ‘I am’ statements that are on your continual thought loop. While they may seem harmless at first, phrases like I am tired, grumpy, unorganized, lazy, forgetful, fat, messy, ugly, unlikeable, poor, stupid, and careless are not serving you. In fact, they are holding you back. You may be recalling times in the past where it felt like that may have been true. You may even remember hundreds of times where you made the same choice over and over again, but that’s all it was. It was a choice. Maybe it even became a habit. But that can change.
The first time you make a better decision is when you start letting go of the past and believing you are worthy of more.
You can’t let go of the past without settling into your present circumstances and wondering about what’s ahead. So that’s what we are going to do next. When you get quiet and think about what this next season of life looks like, what do you see? Late at night as you are drifting off into a peaceful sleep what are you thinking about? Is it something specific or is it more of a feeling? If a specific idea immediately comes to mind, don’t judge it – follow it! It’s what you are meant to do. But if it didn’t, don’t panic.
I think it’s so easy to get hung up on the fact that we’ve lived half a life and we don’t feel like we’ve found our purpose or made as big of an impact as we wanted. We feel left behind listening to other people make these big revelations about their passions and their new found identities. It’s enough to make anyone want to run and hide. But don’t fret. The truth is life is the most satisfying when you focus on how you are feeling right now in this moment.
If what you are doing brings you happiness and joy, keep doing that.
If you feel angry, anxious, or even bored, find what’s holding you back and make a change.
The true purpose of life is to live it. Not to sit on the sidelines and watch it pass by.
Let me say that one more time. Your true purpose in this life is to make the most of every day and enjoy the ride. What that means to you can be completely different from what that means to your neighbor. For some, it may be big changes like starting a new business, finally getting healthy and running a marathon, or moving to a new city, Yet others are just as satisfied to declutter their home, create a solid daily routine, and start dating their husband again. Don’t let the differences stress you out. You just need to do what is best for YOU.
It’s time to refocus your priorities
It’s normal to reminisce about the past. I remember how sad I was when I realized all the big firsts in my life were over. There would be no more first dates, bringing home babies for the first time, or moving into our first home. It took me a few days to shake the funk away. And then I realized that was just my perception. I could intentionally create new firsts to look forward to.
Things like traveling to new places, renovating our home, and trying out new hobbies like hiking and kayaking all became things to be celebrated. Planning anniversary trips and enjoying more weekend getaways with my friends became a true highlight. And intentionally soaking in the moment – enjoying the people and the places that mean the most to be are something I never want to lose focus of.
You get to choose how it all plays out.
Don’t get overwhelmed. It’s easy to sit and dream about all the wonderful things you want to do only to have reality show up and quickly remind you about all your responsibilities. You’re wondering where you will find the time, energy, and money to fulfill all these crazy dreams, right?
You don’t need anything extravagant to get started. Just start making subtle improvements one small step at a time. And when a road block surfaces, find a way around it.
A few years back, we declared we would travel more. We scheduled a long weekend away at the beach, but had to change plans at the last minute due to our work schedules and were very disappointed. Instead of pouting all weekend long, I recreated a beach vacation for an evening in our living room with fresh margaritas, coconut shrimp skewers, Hawaiian shirts and leis, a fun playlist, and beach decorations. I pushed back the furniture and we danced and had a great time. It’s honestly one of my favorite memories and all it took was about 4 hours and less than $75 (including food and drinks!)
We could have chosen to be pitiful about our situation, but instead we changed our perspective and made the best of it.
With a little extra thought and imagination you can do that with any plot twist you are given. And after you have created a few ‘wins’, you become more confident and excited to see what’s next. Before you know it, you have designed a life you are excited to live. And remember…that’s the whole point!
So to recap: There are 5 things to remember about aging that will keep you from feeling like you are going crazy drowning in a midlife crisis.
- Take action. Preferably imperfect action. If you are trying to figure it all out ahead of time, you’re stalling.
- Let go of the past. You can change at any moment. How you showed up in the past does not mean that’s how you have to show up now. Take the next right step.
- Intentionally create your future. What brings you joy and happiness? Do more of that!
- Refocus your priorities. Don’t believe your best years are behind you. You get to choose what’s next! I believe with this knowledge we can step into this next season of life and intentionally create a life we’ve always dreamed about
- And finally, get creative! It’s not all going to fall into your lap. You will easily find the roadblocks that slow your progress. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. If you tried something and it wasn’t for you, that’s okay. Move on to something else.
Just keep going!
Our midlife years are what we make them. You can cling to the story that you must struggle, suffer with every symptom of getting older, get trapped in a midlife crisis, and long to have your youth back
You can find what brings you joy, make yourself a priority, enjoy the current moment, and keep your eye on making the most of what’s ahead.
Life is messy. It’s unpredictable. And everything can change in an instant. Why waste the time you have been given feeling sad about aging and dreading what’s to come. Instead celebrate the life you have been given and be grateful for every day ahead.
If you are feeling like you are in the middle of a midlife crisis, I ask you to take a few moments to evaluate what’s going on. Are you truly in a crisis? If so, reach out and get help. You don’t need to figure it all out on your own. If instead of a crisis, you are feeling the need to question what’s ahead – that’s actually a good thing. It means you want to improve your circumstances and feel more aligned with your surroundings. It prompts you to re-evaluate what’s important. What are the things you want to take with you into this next phase and what do you want to leave behind?
If you are interested in digging deeper, download the self worth writing stem I created for The Third Quarter Transformation program. It will prompt you to answer a series of questions regarding where you find joy, stress, fear, and hope. It will help shine a light on some areas where you could improve your quality of life and find greater satisfaction.
Until next time!