Thursday, September 27, 2012

Day 1088 - Mid-Life Crisis

I am pleased to say I have not yet had a mid life crisis. Or have I?


At the age of 40 and 1088 Days old (translation - almost 43) I am pleased to say I have so far managed to avoid a mid-life crisis. I think.

I coach people of all ages and it seems that the crisis can hit at any age. Mid-life is fairly common usually when someone has been in the same zone (same job, same town, same holidays, same mindset) for the last decade or more.  This often prompts them to buy a sports car, get a tattoo, go bungee jumping or trade their partner in for a newer model. Or they can simply crash. But this feeling of being stagnant or stuck can hit at any age.  My theory is that it has to do with lack of (a) growth and/or (b) fulfillment.



When I was in my early 20s my then boyfriend turned 30 and he was shattered that he hadn't achieved all the things he'd expected to achieve by that age. I made the decision then and there to set goals for myself and take action on them every step of the way. I didn't want to live a life of regret.  That being the case I have grown fairly consistently ever since.

As you know the idea of turning 40 freaked me out ... not because I was aging, but because I hadn't achieved the 40 year goals I had mapped out for myself in my early 30s.  Focusing on your kids can do that to you.  But in my 39th year I powered it all out so that when I turned 40 I felt confident, peaceful and fulfilled.

If you were to plot out your growth in a chart you would find that you experienced exponential growth between the ages of 0-10, and again from 10-15, then, depending on the person, it can start to dip a bit and the growth is not so steep from there on.  However there is still growth - usually right up to the age of around 30. That's when people often get comfortable. That's where they often settle into same-old-same-old for a good decade or so.  Then one day they find themselves at the age of 45 or 50 and absolutely nothing has changed.  Sure, the kids have grown and friends have come and gone, you may have even been on a few holidays, but the goals are smaller and for many they don't exist at all.  And as a result people plateau on their growth chart and suddenly wake up with a distinct lack of fulfillment and WHAMMO the mid-life crisis hits.

As I quickly approach the age of 43 I am pleased to say I have averted the mid-life crisis so far.  Perhaps I am experiencing mid-goal crises instead due to exhaustion.  But my sense of  fulfillment ... or at least striving for it through growth ... is quite high.

It seems though that the mid-life crisis isn't actually just about mid-life.  Studies are showing that people are starting to question their life choices and their growth at all ages.  On www.News.com.au today Angela Ranke discusses the Quarter Life Crisis.  The crisis that people are now experiencing in their mid-20s.  Angela suggests it often has to do with finding the right career and the ability to actually buy a home and get settled. She talks about the uncertainty, panic and helplessness.  I can understand that.  I have discovered that it starts as early as 16 with some people (not knowing what they want to do with their life after they leave the nest) and can also occur in the 50s and 60s (particularly if it's almost retirement age and a person doesn't own their own home nor feel financially stable).

Studies into happiness have shown that although people believe happiness is associated with possessions, money and achieving goals, many people have it all and still aren't happy.  They can still hit crisis mode.  Why? Because they lack fulfillment.

So these teen-life, quarter-life, mid-life and retirement-life crises might actually be about the human need to feel fulfilled.  To have grown consistently through life in a manner that is fulfilling.

Have you ever hit "crisis" mode?

What does fulfillment mean to you?

Is the whole quarter-life, mid-life crisis thing actually about growing and feeling fulfilled as I theorize, or is it something else altogether?


8 comments :

  1. Oh yes, it feels my life leaps from one crises to another and at 46 I do feel I've hit my first major Mac. But within that too I've also achieved a hell of a lot, I'm not one to rest on my laurels, I'm continually seeking new experiences, new ways of thinking and being. I'd actually like to settle a bit now but I'm already pal,ing my next major trip away with my young daughter, finishing some post grad studies etc ... May be next year ;-)

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  2. Being in my mid 30's I am yet to hit the whole mid life thing yet. I want to live to 100 so I still have a few years to get there in. Having said that though I think it is ultra important to keep things fresh and fluid and be ready to roll with the changes as much as possible as it is when we become stale and stagnant that trouble tends to set in

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  3. Being in my mid 30's I am yet to hit the whole mid life thing yet. I want to live to 100 so I still have a few years to get there in. Having said that though I think it is ultra important to keep things fresh and fluid and be ready to roll with the changes as much as possible as it is when we become stale and stagnant that trouble tends to set in

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  4. I know many friends who have had the quarter life crisis. Looking back, I may have had a little one. But I like what Rhianna SG had to say about keeping things fresh, I think that is important, doesn't necessarily mean you are in any type of crisis though

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  5. I let my 20s go.. my 30th bday came up so quickly there was no time to plan (baby was due on my 30th bday)... making my plan for my 40s...

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  6. Really interesting. I think I had a quarter life crisis in my 20s. Suddenly found myself in the real world after years of study, and I had a lot of growing up to do. Then I had a baby :) That helped sort some stuff out. I completely agree that it is important to always have something to work towards, some goals to achieve, so we keep on doing and contributing and being useful. It works for me, anyway :)

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  7. This is really insightful. I agree and think that an age crisis has a lot to do with fulfillment. I think I had one in my 20's with my desire to travel, then in my 30's I was trying to kick career goals.
    Now at 41, after all the travelling and climbing the corporate ladder, I'm pretty content where I am.
    Although, I think it'll be time to get some new goals realigned soon, maybe when the twins start school.

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  8. Well written. A couple of years ago I questioned the direction my life was heading and made a few changes. You get a degree, get a job, start a career and then climb the ladder - all because you're told that's what you are supposed to do. It was time to take a step back and think if I was on the right ladder, or if indeed I wanted to be on the ladder at all. And so I took a gap year, then changed ladders, then stepped off the ladder to have kids. And am loving it. The things that I thought I had wanted weren't the things that I wanted after all. Does that count as a midlife crisis I wonder?

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