“Some people are old at 18 and some people are young at 90 – time is a concept that humans created” Yoko Ono
It wasn’t that long ago that many people believed that when a woman reached 40, her life was pretty much over.
The best bits of her life anyway.
The negative focus was on everything it was believed she could no longer do and each year that followed contained more stripping away of the value that she once had.
Unfortunately, there are some dinosaurs, including some parts of the media, that still share this view, comments such as ‘She looks great…for her age’ are rife and would certainly not be applied to men.
Their focus is placed firmly on what has supposedly been lost in the ageing process, rather than looking at the gains of the new and positive possibilities of midlife.
Magazines and social media often carry lists of where you ‘should’ be in life, you know the ones ‘Things you should have done before you are 30/40/50’ or ‘Places you should have visited’ before whatever age they decide.
All of this can feed into our minds and pile on more pressure which can lead to feelings of complete overwhelm and perhaps feelings of under-achievement.
If we are lucky then midlife goes on for a long time. We can’t stop getting older but we do get to choose how we do it.
We can choose to make changes to enable us to spend our time in a way that works for us, that makes us feel happy, helps us feel purposeful and is a life that is both mentally and physically healthy for us.
If we were to ask most people which word comes after midlife, they usually say crisis. A bit of google research showed me that the definition of a midlife crisis seems to be ‘an emotional crisis of identity and self-confidence that can occur in early middle age.’
That got me thinking.
What about all the other times throughout our lives that we might have struggled with identity and self-confidence - presumably that would have brought a crisis for pretty much every decade of our lives?
At no other point in my life can I remember being told I was ‘due’ a crisis.
Midlife is the first time since puberty that we women have gone through so many physical and mental changes and whilst life can still feel exciting, there is no doubt that it can sometimes also feel pretty scary.
It’s the time of life when we can question who we are now, how we are needed (either at work or at home) and we can begin to wonder what we have got to offer the world (a world in which midlife women can often feel invisible).
My personal feeling is that the feelings and emotions that might emerge at 40+ have come about because of the ‘should’ word – it is because of the beliefs that have surrounded us or that we have personally created around where we ‘should’ be in life at a certain age.
Perhaps the most important question we can ask ourselves is ‘What do I want at this stage of my life?’
When we haven’t asked ourselves those type of questions before or perhaps have never thought about how we want to actually feel in life (I’m talking about possibly a lifetime of ‘just getting on’ with stuff) then life has a way of creeping up and biting you on the bum.
My personal view is that a midlife crisis is not a true crisis, it’s a panic.
I think the panic comes from the demands or changes that often surround midlife – caring for elderly or ill parents/other relatives, children getting older, more independent and perhaps fleeing the nest, the physical and mental challenges of menopause, the sense of mortality that surrounds us as we realise that we are suddenly the elders.
The list goes on. You might be experiencing one thing off this list or you might have the full set and more.
On top of that you have to manage your own relationships, feel fulfilled in your own career and lo and behold the things that you might want to do for yourself get shoved to the bottom of the list.
I think this panic /crisis, whatever term you choose is about a real rush and a push as we suddenly realise that we don’t want to be left behind without experiencing those things we want to do for ourselves.
And because those thoughts may then come from a place of panic, they might not be as planned out as we would normally do and they could become more reactive than proactive.
And that all makes for the possibility of a ‘messier’ outcome and not necessarily the overall life picture we are looking for.
It doesn't have to be like that.
The way I see it is that we can look at midlife in two ways:
1. We can feel miserable that our life might be half way through and we can join the dinosaurs and believe that everything is going downhill from this day forward.
We can wake everyday feeling disappointed and living a self fulfilling prophecy because if we continually believe that we are losing anything, we may eventually lose any impetus to fight for it. So the belief comes true.
2. Or, we can be grateful that life is only half way through and we can embrace the changes to start the next chapter. We can focus less on what we are ‘losing’ and focus more on how we want to live and what’s now going to be possible.
Which option are you going to choose?
I’m going with Option 2 all the way and my focus is now going to be working with women that want to embrace this new chapter, even if they haven’t got a clue yet as to what that might mean for them.
I love this quote from the author Cheryl Strayed “It isn’t too late. Time is not running out. Your life is here and now. And the moment has arrived at which you are finally ready to change.”
If any of this post resonates with you, how would you fancy getting together for a half day brainstorming session (just me and you) to get everything out of your head that you want to think about?
We can look at what’s working for you and what isn’t and then we look at all those things that you want to do that have ended up being shoved away and you can decide which of them you want to add into your life first.
We can work out your priorities (and the non-priority things that you might be overthinking or spending too much time on), look at what’s important to you and break things down into manageable tasks as we take a look at what you want your midlife to look like.
You could go into 2022 with a proper midlife plan – how does that sound?
If any of this sounds like your life and you want to figure it out with somebody that gets what you are going through and who understands what it’s like to spin all the plates then please get in touch with me here.
I would love to talk to you about how I can support you to have the midlife that you want.
With no crisis.