The term “midlife crisis” can make even the heartiest baby boomer cringe. The stereotypical image for a man might be of a red Corvette with a young babe in the passenger seat. For a woman it might be Botox, lip enhancement surgery, and a personal trainer. Do all men and women over 50 have to endure this rite of passage before they transition to the gentler “midlife renewal?”
The answer is yes.
The good news is that a midlife crisis doesn’t have to involve a sports car, plastic surgery, tattoos, or clothes from Abercrombie. The bad news is that to renew yourself at midlife, you must take a risk toward self-discovery, which means there will be belly-gazing, and all of this self-reflection takes time, a valuable commodity that almost no one has any to spare.
First, let’s define what a midlife crisis actually means. For the most part, it’s when men or women between the ages of 45 – 60 feel stuck, frustrated and churn with emotional turmoil. This rite of passage from crisis to renewal will last anywhere from 18 months to four years.
The universal catalyst for your midlife crisis has roots in four sources:
- Relationship: dissatisfaction, divorce, separation
- Empty Nest: children have left home, or will depart soon
- Health: depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer
- Career: layoff, fired, or ready for retirement
If any of the four catalysts have catapulted you into a midlife crisis, rest assured, you are not alone. There are 78 million baby boomers in the United States, and nine million in California. Many of these men and women are doing the important work of introspection and examination that calls to us at midlife. But first, you must become self-aware that you are entering into a new phase of life.
After you understand that your life is changing, a tremendous opportunity opens up that you never knew existed: midlife renewal. It’s the place where the Nestea Iced Tea Plunge, meets Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.
Midlife renewal is when you realize that you can change the direction of your life. This process of renewal is largely about breaking out of the stuck place and beginning to live more intentionally. It’s the difference between being older and emerging an elder.
Our culture would benefit from establishing a rite of passage between the first half and second half of life. The first half of life is spent establishing your identity, building and achieving. The second half of life is more about being of service to others, and teaching what you learned along the way. This rite of passage would be a celebration of the person you once were, and then there might be a ritual to introduce the new you to society.
When you reach 50, there is a gentle realization that the time you have left to live is shorter than the time you’ve lived. Further, the time you have left to live in vibrant health is even shorter. Imagine if you only had 20 years left to live. How would you spend that finite amount of time? Why not take the time to discover who you are right now at midlife and then spend the balance of your days becoming the person who you were meant to be? Life’s a garden, dig it.