Here's a question I received from a reader about his midlife crisis:
I'm 51. I've reached some of my goals, but there is so much more I expected to achieve by this age, and I'm just wondering if it's worth it. I'm losing steam. Is it too late for me?
First, the answer is a big "No! It is not too late!" Until you die, it is never too late to live.
As a MidLife Empowerment Coach, my job is to remind clients that life is meant to be lived fully at every age, and that it's never too late to have and manifest heartfelt goals, and then to coach them in reaching those goals. In fact, once we move into midlife, which I define as the years between 40 and 65, it's more important than ever to have and actively pursue meaningful goals. Why? Because this is often the time when many people begin to lose hope, or even give up on the idea of a purposeful and rewarding life. Therefore, the pursuit of valued goals is a powerful and highly effective way to naturally fuel our lives forward in genuine hope, fulfillment and eagerness for more life.
While studying for my master's degree in psychology, I read selected works of Erik Erikson, the Danish-German-American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on human social development. He identifies this midlife age stage as "middle adulthood," in which the main conflict is "generativity vs. stagnation," the main question is, "Will I produce something of real value?" and the virtue is "care." Care, in this context, is very potent when we see it as care for the well being of self, our loved ones, society and the earth as a whole. Generativity relates to ways of living that support higher social values and help to guide future generations. In contrast, stagnation relates to ways of living that lack productivity and do not help the positive evolution of society at large.
When clients first come to me, it's often because they have given up, on some level, in one or more areas of their lives, and are seeking help in moving out of stagnation and discouragement into more productive, rewarding and inspired lives. The good news is that the clients who deliberately choose generativity reach their goals and live more inspired lives than ever before.
I feel great compassion for those of us whose time has come to pass through this natural valley of midlife. It's not for the faint of heart. It takes hope, courage, strength, confidence, persistence, patience, resilience, a sense of humor, and a high level of awareness to navigate this awe-inspiring time of life, which is admittedly also a time when we may face a multitude of unconscious critical voices, the insidious opinions of the misinformed, unwelcome physical transformations, surprising life changes and a host of other challenging dragons. This is also why I teach and encourage the regular practice of self-forgiveness, the life saving elixir of midlife champions.
But do we really have a choice? Yes, we can consciously and deliberately choose Life. The other choice is stagnation, which leads to atrophy, which leads to what I call "living death." Why not save death for last?
Goals keep us inspired, and when we're inspired we create goals, and when we create our goals, we feel inspired, in perfect symbiosis. This is one of the simplest yet most profound remedies for midlife crisis. In fact, there is no crisis, but rather opportunities for more choices and more life.
As Robert Byrne so aptly stated, "The purpose of life is a life of purpose." Dear readers, the real truth is that midlife is a natural stage of life, and potentially the richest, fullest and most rewarding time of life. So, really there's no need to panic, because midlife is truly organic.
Welcome. Now keep going!
Your Life Coach,
Copyright 2011 Maddisen K. Krown, M.A.