The mid-life crisis occurs for a reason

Up until about 40, we spend our lives building, collecting, acquiring. We do our best despite in some cases our upbringing, society pressures and our economic conditions. Around 40, however, life starts to take on new meaning. Usually this is a result of some big change forced on from external sources or related major challenge in our life. For some people it may be a divorce, emotional or health issues, for others losing a job, gaining a new relationship, or just an overall feeling of anxiety. Suddenly, the feeling that your dreams are not achieved and some risks are not taken urging you to take new steps.

Re-assessment is healthy

After nearly 18 years now of researching and observing the phenomena of midlife especially how it relates to work, I can tell you that most people skip one important step. That is—re-assessment!

After 40 is perfect time to assess what is working and what is no longer working in your life. After 40, there is not much time for ego. It is a time for a little humility and to step back from the pace of your life and examine what really matters to you.

I joined my wife the other day for a yoga class, which she is an expert at, and I am just learning. It occurs to me that yoga is a perfect example for what we should do with our life after 40. Inner inquiry and paying attention to what one yearns for most is perfect exercise. Just like yoga teaches one to slow down and pay attention to the inner you, so does the search for an authentic life after 40. This is, of course, difficult for many people because it means we might have to make a major change in our life and this can cause fear.

Start with a re-assessment of your work

A re-assessment of your work after 40 is a good place to start. After all, this is where we spend the majority of our time. Does your work bring you joy, happiness, and a sense of coherence? That is, is it clear WHY you are doing this work? If the answer is no, then you are the one who must make the change. Don’t let excuses get in the way like a disapproving spouse, a terrible economy, or anything else you can create in your mind as an excuse to live a status quo life.

What happens after 40 if we do work which we don’t enjoy

First, our health suffers. Physically, we get sick more often. Psychologically, we get more depressed. We take our job misery out on others and, sadly, those people who are most important to us. Instead, what you need is a big change—drastic change – the kind of change which will rock the boat of your world and force a new direction.

Our second half of life brings more wisdom

By this time in our lives, we know more, have experienced more and should know ourselves better. Indeed, the second half of life is a time for all those past dreams left behind to be picked up and followed. Especially the ones rated the most crazy to pursue by others. After all, why would you want to take advice by someone who decided to live the status quo life? I run into many of these people at the health club I belong. Their lives’ center around watching the stock market daily and deciding on their emotional state based on whether their investments were up or down. I wish the country placed more emphasis on individuals and their well being rather the health of the financial markets and we would probably see a much more healthy society.

Why now?

Should I instead save for retirement and just work at my job, which I don’t enjoy? NO! This is a strategy doomed to fail. The solution is not to retire but to find new work which is a vocation and will last the next 50 or so years! I hear the same excuse from many people – I don’t care about the rest of my life, I need something now. True but it’s amazing how these short term decisions end up lasting 20 or 30 years.

Become more comfortable with yourself

The best changes are those we decide to make based on our own choices and not driven by external conditions. The second half of life should not be the time to be secure or cautious butthe time to identify exactly what would be perfect for you in your life. This should include your work, your relationships and your health. What do you want in your life, who do you want in your life and what and who needs to be dropped. Investing your money in the stock market gives you a chance it will either go up or down. Not investing NOW in the most important time of your life will guarantee you that the second half of life will not be any different and will not correct any unhappiness or angst you have right now.

The best times of your life are NOW if you choose

With deep thinking, new planning, and increasing your self-awareness, the second half of your life can be a crusade and not a crisis. Pick up and dust off those unrealized dreams and pursue them now. Did you always want to become a teacher, a writer or travel around the world? Now is the time. Forget about leaving a legacy- Instead live your legacy now when you can still enjoy it. What changes MUST you make in your life now? The more drastic the better! Always remember there is a difference between decision and action!

I am cheering for you as you make your big change!

Craig Nathanson

Author's Bio: 

Craig is a 25 year management veteran, Executive coach, college professor, author, and workshop leader. Also, Craig Nathanson is The Vocational Coach helping people and organizations thrive in their work and life.

Craig Nathanson is the founder of The Best Manager , workshops and products aimed at bringing out the best in those who manage and lead others.