I was chatting with a potential client the other day and he said to me, “Help, I am in a midlife crisis!” My response wasn’t at all what he was expecting.
“That’s awesome”, I said, “What a great opportunity for you!”
He turned fifty a year ago and also experienced some deaths in his social group that really affected him. “Twenty, thirty, and forty were easy”, he said, “just a blink of an eye. Turning fifty and seeing a few friends die has really sent me for a loop. I feel lost and I don’t know what to do.”
This situation is a very common for most men. The naming of it – a midlife crisis – is likely why so many of us avoid it, deny it, or distract ourselves from the call to review the life we have already lived and look forward to the life we have yet to live – To make some heartfelt choices to live more passionately from our deeper purpose. Besides who wants to admit they are in a crisis especially we men?
Lets reframe it;
Turning fifty (midlife) is a type of doorway or a rite of passage – a death of sorts. We have more life behind us than we have in front of us. Our mortality can become uncomfortably real and in a way force us to look at how we have lived and then ask what we must do now if we intend to die well. If we approach it as a crisis we may miss the glorious opportunity to explore and ponder these most important questions.
Sometime this midlife opportunity comes as financial loss, other times and most common as a divorce. From time to time as was my case a sibling dies suddenly and unexpectedly. Other times this opportunity can be brought on by job loss. All these ‘deaths’ when approach as a growth opportunity can and will propel us into living the remainder of our lives with more authenticity, passion and purpose.
Here are several questions that help in this important exploration of what we have done and how we have lived. They help us take stock of our living with reality.
What do I need to do? How do I need to live, in order that my death
be a grand celebration of a purposeful life well lived?
How did I contribute to the divorce? How was I living, how was I being that led to the end of my marriage? How did my partner experience me? What do I need to change in me to be an even better partner next time?
How was I performing at work? What was I doing and not doing that led to my dismissal? How would my employer have seen me? How to I need to adjust my work effort to be an even better employee?
Moving forward from these ‘deaths’ and also using the passing of a sibling or a friend we could imagine being on our own deathbed and feel how we would feel if we did not grow and change but instead just carried on trying to get back to normal.
When I allowed my late sister Jody’s death to guide me I heard the question; “Is this what I want to do for the rest of my life?”
When my second divorce came to pass I asked the question; “What did I do to create this ending?”
I then asked how I wanted to feel as my own death comes knocking. What regrets would I have if I failed to act on this midlife opportunity?
By reframing this important time in life AND taking personal responsibility for where we find ourselves – divorced, fired, broke, or lost – we can catapult ourselves forward into a new and even more fulfilling life if we so choose.