The typical image that comes to mind when someone mentions a midlife crisis is one of flashy red sports cars, older people trying desperately to recreate their youth through clothes or extravagant vacations, or plastic surgery to regain a more youthful look.
The list is endless!
But, what if “midlife crisis” just means something more — something more profound than simply turning 50 and trying to reclaim your youth.
Turning 50 — or any age around that pivotal milestone — often conjures up fear and the idea that it’s only downhill from now on. And not in a good way!
The belief that the good years are over is real and many people plan for declining mental and physical health.
However, this misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. Your midlife is really a great opportunity to create the life you’ve always wanted!
Here are 6 steps to turn your midlife crisis into a moment of personal reinvention, filled with possibilities and perhaps a new, more purposeful path in life.
1. Evaluate and appraise your accomplishments.
Take stock of all you’ve accomplished so far. It could be successfully launching your children to the next phase in their life, whether that be through college or simply moving out of the home.
Savor the love and the lessons you shared with your children and the home you created for your family. That’s also a success!
If you don’t have children, take stock of the relationships that you have developed with friends, family members, and coworkers.
Look at what you’ve accomplished with your career. Whether you loved your job or not, you have contributed to your company or business’s success. Enjoy the feeling of being a larger part of something.
Write down a list of 20 accomplishments over the last 25 years that make you feel proud. Be descriptive and recreate the experiences, the award, the pay increase, a customer thanking you for making a difference.
Include coworkers that you enjoyed working with or had helped you with your job. All of these accomplishments matter.
2. Reframe the experience of reaching your midlife.
Reaching 50, with all the challenges and accomplishments that come along with living life, demonstrates strength and perseverance. Some of the positive aspects of getting older are more time for you and your hobbies.
Most adults in their 50s have older children that are on their own, so it frees up time for you. Maybe you’ve been a single parent and did not have time to travel. Take some of the trips on your bucket list and get on a plane.
Travel to your local recreation area, whether it be the mountains or the beach.
With all of your past commitments and the noise of daily life, maybe you haven’t had time to read your favorite novel. Now, you can join that book club!
3. Take stock of what works and what needs to be changed.
Create a list of areas in your life that bring you joy and a similar list of areas that are challenging or energy drains.
From that list, evaluate how you can create more opportunities to do the things you love, carve out time for your hobbies, or learn a new skill or language. The areas of your life that feel like a drain, decide if you need to continue doing them.
These can include a job that doesn’t bring your happiness. Choose to either apply elsewhere, go back to school to get additional training, or apply for a new position in the company.
You don’t have to be stuck. While change is an adjustment, it can also bring long-lasting happiness. Now is the time, you still have many more productive years before retiring.
In fact, switching careers during one’s life is now more the norm than not. Midlife years bring you the opportunity to create a new direction in your life, take it!
4. Increase your sense of well-being and happiness.
Research has confirmed that during midlife, there’s a sense of renewed balance, good health, and a greater sense of control over certain aspects of our lives.
The New York Times reported in 1999 that people between the ages of 40 and 60 feel better about their lives than they did 10 years earlier.
The midlife years are often years of good health, financial stability, increased productivity, and more community involvement. Embrace these years and enjoy all they have to offer.
5. Evaluate what relationships sustain and support you, and let go of the ones that don’t.
Are you always the friend who is trying to get everyone together and stay in touch, no matter what? If so, now is the time to free yourself from those obligations.
Are those friendships more of a burden rather than a blessing?
Sometimes, friendships are not meant to be forever and a best friend from college at 20 is no longer a good match at 50. Your interests and values may have changed, and the relationship feels like too much work or creates more stress in life.
Or perhaps you keep a friend out of loyalty, but the friendship is one-sided and only about their life. It’s OK to release those friendships and find your tribe!
Everyone changes, so it’s logical and makes sense that your friendships change, too!
Stretch yourself and try some meetup groups or online friend-making websites to create new relationships.
6. Stop and smell the roses.
Turning 50 gives us a chance to pause, take a deep breath, and exhale.
It allows you to slow down and do some things that you haven’t had a chance to, such as gardening, or perhaps being on the committee of a volunteer program you’re passionate about.
Or, maybe it’s literally slowing down and giving yourself permission to stop and smell the roses. You’ve made it this far, time to enjoy!
It’s time to create a new image of midlife that fits more accurately with this transitional age.
This new image is without darkness or regret and more about energy, enthusiasm, new opportunities, and new directions.
Midlife can be seen as a renaissance or rebirth in new hobbies and a new mindset.
Midlife years can be some of the most rewarding years in one’s life, so seize this time and embrace all it has to offer!