The “midlife crisis?” The "oh, crap, I’m halfway through my life and I think I’m on the wrong track" realization?
Are you thinking that it may be time for a midlife career change?
Okay… enough questions. Let’s get to some answers.
Let me assure you of this, first off: if you’re experiencing this kind of midlife mindset, you are a) not alone and b) perfectly normal.
What’s commonly known as the midlife crisis is something that psychologists actually expect us to go through. Midlife is a great time for self-evaluation: we’ve lived just long enough that we’ve probably (hopefully!) achieved a number of the goals on our lists, but it hits us that the clock is ticking and there’s still much that we’d like to cross off our lists. We also have the sense that it’s not too late (yet) for us to be able to tackle some of those To-Do’s (but… it will be soon if we don’t get moving!).
Psychologist Erik Erikson refers to what we most often call the “midlife crisis” as one of the eight stages of psychosocial development that we all go through. He notes that this one typically occurs in middle adulthood, but he says that it can happen anytime between the ages of 25 and 64. The existential question that we are seeking to answer at this stage is “Can I make my life count?”
He says that, at this stage, our primary developmental concerns are to contribute to the overall betterment of society and to help guide future generations. When we leave that positive footprint on society as a whole, we feel productive and accomplished as human beings.
Through our midlife evaluations (let’s move away from calling them crises!), we seek to correct those areas where we feel like we’re on the wrong track. We assess our families, careers, relationships, and overall societal involvement to determine changes that may need to be made in any of these areas in order for us to leave the kind of legacy with our lives that we’ll be proud of.
So, it’s not only normal to hit that midlife evaluation, it’s a good thing to do so!
You’re supposed to hit this period of your life, where you consider just how on-track you are to achieving your dreams. If you’re having a bit of a meltdown, it’s probably a good sign that, indeed, you are off-track. Don’t mistake these feelings as being unhealthy – they’re a great signal to you that something does need to change in your life. The issue is not the “crisis” (we’ll use that word again for a moment!) itself, but the resolution.
What are you going to do about it? Take the opportunity to think, very deliberately, about just what it is that you still want to achieve in life. If the actions that you are taking, on a daily basis, are not moving you forward to achieving those goals, consider what you can begin changing to get you on the path that you’d rather be on. Recognize that the change won’t be a radical one that will change your life overnight, but that moving your life in a new direction begins with small changes that you can begin to make on a daily basis.
So, don’t freak out about the midlife “evaluation.”
Get specific about your goals and vision for your life, and work on developing a plan to achieve them. Get an accountability partner. Find a friend, life coach, career coach, or someone you can meet with on a regular basis who supports you and your dreams and would love to see you achieve them.
This can be a courageous time of your life. Make the career change. Rededicate yourself to your family and relationships. Make the rest of your life count… starting now.
This Guest Post was written by Lisa Sperow of LEGEND Talent Management. Lisa’s firm works with both career coaches and individuals looking to transition careers. They offer assessment tools that assist in matching an individual’s skills, abilities, personality and interests with rewarding career options.