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How To Overcome A Midlife Crisis | 10 Key Steps

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How To Overcome A Midlife Crisis | 10 Key Steps
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Learning how to overcome a Midlife Crisis is crucial if you are to make the best of your 40’s, 50’s and beyond. It will help you to live an inspiring second half of your life.

This article is for you if you are finding things aren’t as you would want them to be. You may not see your situation as a midlife crisis but you are troubled by events that have made you unhappy. Maybe you got passed over for promotion by someone younger, your marriage has broken up after 20 plus years, your kids have left the nest, you have wound things down but find yourself regretting that. Whatever your problem this article provides you with solutions.

The quickest way to age is to be unhappy and disappointed and then do nothing about it. Just wishing that you were younger, regretting the passing of time, fearing the future, is a sure way of accelerating the aging process and bringing on a midlife crisis.

You have a choice.

See midlife as that scary over mid-way point in your life where you’re over the hill and your best is behind you with you seeing a downhill journey from now on.

Alternatively, see midlife as a transition point, the start of the next chapter where now you can launch your ‘second life’ and do those things you negelected thus far.

As a coach and author my mission is to inspire people to view midlife as the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in life, one in which they can choose to reinvent themselves, because that is exactly what you can do.

What is a Midlife Crisis?

Elliot Jaques introduced the phrase “midlife crisis” in 1965. Despite the fact there are those who now claim such a thing doesn’t exist, the simple fact is there are many on reaching 40, 50 years old who suddenly found themselves bordering on depression, fearing their future, regretting their past. Whatever you want to call it, it is a reality.

A midlife crisis is simply a period of doubt and anxiety that some people experience in middle age, when they think about whether their life is the kind of life that they want and they realise it’s not. It is when they evaluate their achievements, goals, and dreams against what they had wished for in the past and see themselves as ‘failing.’ Looking ahead they feel like their options are limited.

Also becoming acutely aware of their mortality which causes fear together with disappointment particularly if life hasn’t turned out as once they’d envisaged, but even those who have achieved what they set out to do, many find themselves left wanting more.

A saying I like, is it is like climbing up a ladder year after year, finally reaching the top, and finding you were climbing the wrong wall.

Hitting a mid-life crisis makes you question everything you’ve devoted your life to, and have done the last couple of decades, and all of your carefully-laid life plans don’t seem to make sense anymore. You look back over your accomplishments but thinking these could have been far better.

“In my early fifties, I was going through a phase where few things felt right and I was trying to figure out those that did. It was not uncommon. In your twenties, you pursue your dreams. By your late thirties and early forties, you hit a certain stride. Then you hit your fifties, you get your first annoying thoughts of mortality, you begin more serious questioning of not just the meaning of your life but of what’s working, what’s not working, and what you still want, and all of a sudden you don’t know which way is up. You thought you knew but don’t. You just want to get to where life feels okay again.”

Dick Van Dyke

Signs You’ve Hit Your Midlife Crisis

Midlife can be the unhappiest time in a person’s life. There are some tell-tale signs that you’re having a mid-life crisis.

  • You can’t be bothered – lethargic,
  • Find it difficult getting out if bed in the morning,
  • You’re procrastinating and not dealing with things,
  • Life seems to be drifting and you’re running on autopilot with no goal in sight,
  • Having no purpose driving you on,
  • Envious of the success and happiness of others,
  • Scared of dying or death, fear running out of time,
  • Everything feels to much an effort,
  • Constantly living with regret, saying “Is this all there is?”
  • Spending an increasing time worried about health issues,
  • Making crazy purchases e.g. sports car,
  • Drastic changes in habits,
  • Mood swings,
  • Shifts in sleeping habits,
  • Obsession with appearance,
  • Disconnecting from old friends,
  • Lost interest in leisure activities and hobbies,
  • Feeling tied down,
  • Tired and unfulfilled by your career,
  • Relationship dissatisfaction.

Often midlife crisis is brought on by an event such as redundancy, an empty nest, a divorce or ending of a long relationship, facing illness or the loss of someone close to us. Anyone of these events can make us feel concerned, stressed, scared about our future.

Things we say at Midlife

There are things we say that are evidence of a midlife crisis.

‘I’m too old to find a partner in life,’

‘No one is going to want to employ me at this age,’

‘It is too late for me to make something of my life,’

‘All those years spent working in a job I hated, for what,’

‘Back when I was younger,’

‘If only I’d taken a different route through life,’

‘I look old,’

‘Everyone here is younger than me, fitter than me,’

‘I wake up every morning feeling aches and pains and they’re getting worse,’

‘Is this all there is?’

‘Why am I doing this?’

‘What is the real point of life?’

‘Why are all my friends more successful than me?’

These are the type of phrases and questions you have to cut out your vocabulary. But if you can hear yourself saying them, you’re flirting with a midlife crisis.

It’s more common than you’d think

Research published in 2000 found that equal numbers of men and women report a midlife crisis. Thirty-four percent of men and 36.1% of women who had reached 50 years old said they had a midlife crisis.

Both men and women reported that awareness of time passing was a trigger for their midlife crisis, and 14% of both men and women said the midlife crisis is a time for making major personal changes.

Out of the one in four people who say they had a midlife crisis, the vast majority say it was brought on by a major event, rather than age. Factors that triggered the crisis included life changes such as divorce, job loss, loss of a loved one, or relocation.

Make the decision to stop your midlife crisis

Yes, I’m saying you have the choice whether to struggle onwards with a midlife crisis or to move on and make the best use of your remaining time.

I want to assure you by reading this article you will find solutions to implement into your life that will pull you out of a midlife crisis. Maybe see this as a wakeup call. A wake up for life, to realize that, yes, there is perhaps more life behind us that is in front of us but knowing amazing things can still be achieved with the time you have left.

We have a longer life expectancy than our ancestors, that is a privilege, and we owe it to ourselves to make the most out of it.

It’s up to you, do you really want to cling on to old memories of what you could once do and spend your days regretting missed opportunities and things you haven’t done? Instead ensure you make every day count and strive to reinvent your life to ensure your last years are your best ones.

How do you feel about where you are right now in midlife?

I understand how hard it is to admit life’s not as you want it to be, and how challenging it is to figure what you’re going to do with the rest of your life when you seem trapped by your existing commitments.

You’ve made a start by being here reading this article. You have refused to forge blindly ahead in denial or having to put up with negative emotions and thoughts for any longer. Instead you are showing your intention to find more meaning, more joy, and more balance in your life. 

I wrote in a previous article these words:

“I was chatting with another 50 year old and he asked me with complete sadness ‘Do you realise we have lived more years than we probably have left to live?” I must admit my answer wasn’t the one he expected from a life coach, or necessarily the one he wanted to hear, because I said, “Well I hope so, I really don’t want to live to a 100, so I’ll take another 40 years happily.””

Larry Lewis

I don’t know how many years I have left, nor do you but let’s ensure we make the most out of every second we get.

Let’s look at workable solutions.

Solutions to overcome a Midlife Crisis

The National Health Service (NHS) website recommends you see a doctor, and then goes on to say you will be prescribed anti-depressants! I have to admit this approach doesn’t sit right with me. A life controlled by meds is a total no no in my mind. Yet of course if you are worried then please see your Doctor but read these solutions because they really will work for you.  I suggest working through each of these steps and implement them into your life.

1. Acknowledge the Crisis

Your starting point is to acknowledge your midlife crisis, accept things have to be changed so that you once again can regain control of your life. You must face up to your thoughts, so you can deal with them head on. You can’t bury what’s happening under the carpet to hide from the fact that you’re going through it. This does you no good and will just ensure things get worse. Make sure it really is a midlife crisis that you’re going through, then accept you are, and then get ready to make changes. Look at the list above of the signs you’ve hit your Midlife Crisis. If you see a reflection of parts of a midlife crisis in your life, take these steps.

“You have to acknowledge a problem exists before you can actually go about finding a solution.”

Demi Moore

2. Think Before Making Big Changes

I said you needed to make changes, but before you do, I want you to think long and hard about the changes you need to make. If you’re thinking of making major life changes, like ending a long-term relationship, changing careers, or moving abroad, you first need to work through each of these issues first.

You mustn’t make hasty decisions, or ones based on painful inner turmoil. You have to consider all your options and determine every possible solution. Don’t run from your problems, instead try working through them. 

If ultimately you decide on the most drastic change being the right solution so be it, as long as you’ve tried everything else. Read through a previous article How To Go From Struggling With Life To Finding Success And Happiness which will help you get clear about what’s wrong with your life, the areas in which you are struggling and determine the most important things to change.

“A year from now you will wish you had started today.”

Karen Lamb

3. Start asking yourself some questions.

Sometimes you have to take stock of your life, even if you don’t want to. You need to ask the tough questions of yourself. If you are brave enough to do so you will learn more than you thought possible.

  • How well does my work match my personality, my values and my talents?
  • What am I doing to build and sustain my relationships with family and friends?
  • When was the last time I did something that took me out of my comfort zone?
  • If I continue on my current path what (if anything) might I regret in 20 years time?
  • What am I doing to take care of my physical and mental health?
  • How am I making sure that I’m continually learning and growing?
  • What could I do to add some more fun and laughter into my life?
  • In what way am I making a significant contribution to the world around me?
  • How often do I slow down and give myself a chance to recharge?
  • Do I know my guiding purpose in life? Am I living in line with this purpose?

Asking questions that dig deep into your psyche will help reveal many things that to this point you’ve avoided. Whether you are going through something called a midlife crisis isn’t what’s important, what is the reasons for it are. These questions show you where your problems lie. Knowing this gives you the chance to get them sorted.

“We thought that we had the answers, it was the questions we had wrong.”

Bono

4. Be grateful for what you have

We so often take things for granted. The good in our life we take for granted and they become overshadowed by our problems. Yet to move forward in our life, and away from a midlife crisis, we have to make time for being thankful for what we’ve got. Start a gratitude journal to get into a regular habit of practicing thankfulness. The more we express gratitude for all the good things in our life, the more we are able to find good things around us. The more we express our gratitude the more open we become. We begin to see what’s possible rather than what’s not possible.

Willing to take time to find gratitude in your life read this article Practising Gratitude

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.”

Cynthia Ozick

How often do you pause to appreciate what you have in life? Start now.

5. Forget Numbers

Are you defined by your age? Do you limit yourself because of the age you’ve reached? Have you stopped  doing  things because  you  think you’re too old? Age isn’t what limits us, we are the limitation. I go to the gym 5 days a week, and lift weights bigger than most the 20 and 30 somethings. Why should my age stop me? Your age means nothing, and will not prevent you starting a business, challenging yourself physically, leaving an unhappy marriage or forging a life different to what you have now.

Are you willing to stop using your age as an excuse?

I wrote the other day that Colonel Sanders didn’t start his KFC empire till his 60’s.

“I was sixty-six years old. I still had to make a living. I looked at my social security check of 105 dollars and decided to use that to try to franchise my chicken recipe. Folks had always liked my chicken.”

Colonel Sanders

6. Develop Resilience

Midlife can bring all kinds of stressors, including divorce, the death of a parent, career setbacks and retirement worries, yet many of us don’t build the coping skills we need to meet these challenges face on. Resilience is our ability to bounce back from adversity. There is a naturally learnable set of behaviours that contribute to resilience. It is probably the most important characteristic we need to get through a midlife crisis. Check out this previous article How To Be More Resilient When Faced With Challenges .

“Someone said adversity builds character, but someone else said adversity reveals character. I’m pleasantly surprised with my resilience. I persevere, and not just blindly. I take the best, get rid of the rest, and move on, realizing that you can make a choice to take the good.”

Brooke Shields

7. Grow into a positive mindset

It is imperative that the mindset you have towards life is positive. Listen in to your self-talk. Is it positive or are you very negative?  You might find it helpful to keep a note book and jot down every time you notice you’re judging yourself because of your age or simply saying negative things about yourself.

Once you have resolved that you are going to develop a positive mindset, then the next thing you need to do is to commit to your mind and not feed negative thoughts to it. This commitment is easier said than done. We all have the ability to change our mindset, but sometimes our negative voice is very constant. By far the best thing you can do is practice a mental detox, and I wrote about this on my healthy lifestyle blog, so read it here.

“Believing in negative thoughts is the single greatest obstruction to success.”

Charles F. Glassman

8. Determine your personal assets

What are your best personal assets? I’m not talking about what money you have in the bank, or investments in brick and mortar. You have a set of unique gifts and strengths central to who you are that make you an invaluable asset to the world, what are they. Your strengths, talents, natural gifts. The ones that if you make the most of them and design your life around them, you’d enjoy both success and happiness.

So what are you best at? What skills could you really hone to make life better? Take time to think through this!

“Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.”

Leo Buscaglia

9. Create New Goals with a Purpose

This is a must-do. Your life changer right here. No doubts you set goals before. Maybe you now are a non-believer, they’ve never worked for you. Well just believe now’s the time. Why is this so important? Human beings need more than anything a sense of purpose, and this is what gives life meaning. Your goals need to be designed to bring meaning to your life.

What goals have you consigned to the back burner or worse still the bin? Those things that once upon a time really excited you.

People with goals are nearly 20% more satisfied with their lives.

“People who could identify a goal they were pursuing were 19 percent more likely to feel satisfied with their lives and 26 percent more likely to feel positive about themselves.”

Krueger

It doesn’t matter whether you have achieved every goal you’ve made for yourself to this point, or whether life has not worked out the way you thought it would when you were a youngster. Being in your 50’s doesn’t mean life is over, you have time to set new goals or to make those old one’s still come true. Believe me when  I say it is never too late! 

I urge you not to think small. This is your opportunity to ensure you create the right legacy, one you’d be proud of. Maybe its writing a book, volunteering for a cause you believe in, taking a course learning something new, anything that challenges and excites you.

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

Henry David Thoreau

10. Improve your Lifestyle

Midlife is certainly the time where we really need to take notice of our health. When we do, we then need to ensure we do everything we can to live a healthy lifestyle. Living is a gift and growing older a privilege.

Looking after our health and wellbeing is essential. A lack of physical activity and regular exercise, as well as a poor diet can contribute toward high blood pressure, heart disease and heart attacks, a lack of sexual activity, and a poor health-related quality of life. Many of these things are associated with midlife. Yet the causes are clear and can be avoided if you make the right choices.

A healthy lifestyle adds more years to your life. If you have not been exercising before or eaten healthily, it is never too late to start. I used to own a chain of gyms. I loved working with midlifers, of both sexes, particularly those who hadn’t done much physical activity for over 20 years.  I was constantly astonished by the number of 40 plus people who reckoned they did no sport or physical activity since they left school. Worse still few knew what a healthy diet incorporated. The one thing they all shared was fears about their health. I can assure all of you, a healthy balanced diet, regular physical exercise, a good 8 hours of sleep can make an amazing difference. It did for them, it can for you.

“Looking good and feeling good go hand in hand. If you have a healthy lifestyle, your diet and nutrition are set, and you’re working out, you’re going to feel good.”

Jason Statham

Conclusion

Adopt these 10 suggestions and begin to write a new chapter for your life. If you’re not happy or fulfilled now what possibly could hold you back from trying to make the life that could make you feel this level of satisfaction and overcome a midlife crisis

I’d love to hear from you too, don’t be shy!  Drop me an email  – coach@larry-lewis.com and share your thoughts  on midlife.

To do nothing is to let midlife crisis decide how you change, instead reinvent your life and make it great.

Larry Lewis

I can Help You Resolve your Midlife Crisis

Whether you are dealing with a midlife crisis, a job change, a physical or emotional challenge, or the loss of a spouse or loved one, let me help you.

I am a reinvention coach evidenced by my creating the Compass for Life Reinvention program and one of my blogs, the Reinvention Men, written with my friend Andrew Loader. My life experience and the body of work that I have developed equip me to guide you as you navigate your own life reinvention, identifying what’s missing in your life and re-align your life with what is truly important to you.

Together we’ll face the challenges and the new possibilities that come up as you begin to chart a new course for your future. Invest in yourself and invite me to be your life coach – you don’t have to deal with this alone!

I invite you to reach and call me at 01325 345824 or fill out the Free Discovery Session – Enquiry Form to arrange for your complimentary and confidential consultation.

I am based in the North East of England meet with clients in my Darlington office or over Skype or Zoom.

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About the author: Larry Lewis
I'm Larry. As an Executive Life Coach, entrepreneur and writer, I am an unshakable optimist dedicated to helping you become the person you most want to be. I am devoted to sharing ideas, tools and resources that will help you create a better, stress free, well balanced life.

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