In a couple of months, I will be 58 years old. I have always thought of myself as “young”, resilient, strong and healthy. Yet, the health crisis I suffered last year left me feeling anything but these things. Going through any sort of transition, especially at midlife, can leave you feeling at loose ends. I guess you can say I am going through a midlife crisis. Maybe you can identify with this as well.
What Is a Midlife Crisis?
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines a midlife crisis as, “A period of emotional turmoil in middle age characterized especially by a strong desire for change.”
People respond to a midlife crisis in different ways, but it typically involves a change in the way that they act and feel, and in their attitude to life. It can happen at any time and can last for several years.
The term “midlife crisis” reflects the negative aspects of change. The phenomenon is also known as:
- Midlife transition
- Quest for identity
- The change of life
- Empty nest syndrome
- Identity review, or identity assessment
The phrase that you choose to describe it is less important than your strategy for coping with it. But it’s worth pausing to think about whether a transition needs to be a “crisis,” or if it’s simply part of coming to terms with a change in your life.
Many significant life events can trigger a midlife crisis but are usually centered on six main life changes:
- Awareness of aging and mortality: it could be your first pair of reading glasses, hair loss, the onset of menopause, or the death of a peer.
- A health scare.
- A feeling of “going nowhere” in your career.
- The end of (or lack of) a meaningful relationship in your life.
- Children becoming more independent or leaving home.
- Regrets regarding your life goals and achievements.
A midlife crisis can affect people in different ways however, there is a common feeling of “being adrift” and while they may be working hard, they are not getting anywhere worthwhile. In other words, there is a strong feeling of not being fulfilled or feeling purposeful.
The Next Step to Overcoming a Midlife Crisis
Now that I’m on the other side of my health crisis and in a good place (yay!!), I’ve been thinking a lot about “what’s next”. While there are several things you can do to overcome your midlife crisis, the most effective way is to set new goals. Goal setting is a powerful process for thinking about your ideal future, and for motivating yourself to turn your vision of this future into reality. If you’ve never been one to set goals, this may seem challenging, but here are some tips to help you.
Here are 6 holistic tips to help you set goals for success.
- Creating Clarity (mental) – Set aside time to get really clear on what’s important to you now – at this stage of your life, and why. Defining what each of these things means is important, and will help provide the motivation and support required to make significant changes.
- Be Focused (emotional) – Most goals fail because we set unrealistic expectations. Setting goals that are difficult yet attainable is the key ingredient for successful goal-setting. When you allow too much stress to get in the way of achieving goals a person feels doomed. Instead, stay focused on the journey. Along the path of goal setting, you stretch your abilities to achieve great outcomes building positive self-esteem.
- Understand Your Core Values (spiritual) – Make sure you have a clear understanding of your values. Without a strong set of core values, passion is weak and commitment is soft. When our values aren’t in focus, our energy is easily scattered. Core values provide a context for continuous growth and development that takes us toward our dreams.
- Visualize your Dreams (emotional) – Start visualizing or dreaming about what you want. Most of us don’t actually do this but rather narrow our focus to what we think is possible for fear of failure. Challenge yourself to think big. If your goal is to become healthier this year, what exactly does this look like?
- Write them Down (physical) – Once you have your dreams, write them down in the present tense. To turn your vision into concrete goals, start breaking them down so they become manageable action steps. It may help to devise a weekly, monthly or quarterly plan to ensure it doesn’t become overwhelming.
- Hold Yourself Accountable (spiritual) – Finally, in order for your goals to turn into accomplishments, you need to take action and to be held accountable. Research indicates that creating an accountability plan and having an accountability partner increases your chances of reaching your goals by 95%.
You can take steps to overcome your midlife crisis including talking to a coach, someone you trust, reframing your situation, carrying out a life audit, and setting new goals. The most important thing is to recognize that a midlife crisis needn’t be a “crisis” at all. Instead, it can be an opportunity for significant, positive change.
Ready to take the next step?
If you are in, or have recently gone through, a state of change in your life and wondering what to do next, I invite you to contact me. I can help you find more purpose in your life or career, help you create that meaningful change you desire and help you find ways to create success and meaning as you enter this new chapter in your life. Together, we will:
- Create a life and/or career vision.
- Understand what truly makes you happy.
- Learn to make choices that honour your values.
- Discover what’s stopping you from doing what you want.
Interested in Coaching?
If you have been thinking about coaching with me, now may be a great time to see if we are a good fit for each other. I’m currently taking on new clients and I invite you to connect with me to get all your questions answered and to see how we may work together. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 905-466-1903.
I look forward to connecting with you!