This is the Midlife Adventurer’s 100th post. And for this 100th post, what better topic than write about the challenges and opportunities of midlife? So, it is all about an empowered midlife.
Navigating midlife can be a challenge even at the best of times for the most confident and optimistic of people as a host of challenges, stemming from all spectrums of life such as physical, emotional and mental, hit a person.
Table of Contents
But, first what is midlife?
Generally, ages between early forties and early sixties are considered to be midlife.
In the seventies, the eminent US psychologist Daniel Levinson divided life into five stages or seasons.
- Pre-adulthood. This is from birth to 22.
- Early adulthood. From 17 to 45, with the period between 40 and 45 being the midlife transition years.
- Middle adulthood. This is life between 40 and 65 with the last five years being the late adult transition years.
- Late adulthood. This is between the ages of 60 to 85.
- Late late adulthood. Beyond the age of 85.
The Midlife (Crisis)
This is one of those much-dreaded terms in human life. It is the time we think we will start to feel old and the fears of the inevitable mortality creep in.
These changes don’t happen overnight.
One notices the gradual weakening of the bodily functions. The skin isn’t supple anymore and there are sags and wrinkles.
The Phases of Life – from the Vigeland Park, Oslo- Norway
One doesn’t have the same energy as before and the long nights-early wake up days slowly vanish.
The changes are slow but it is also possible that one day one wakes up to the thought, or at some point suddenly that awful thought hits – “I am old”. This is followed by very melancholic feelings, sometimes without a reason and explanation.
That is midlife.
However, the term ‘midlife crisis’ entered the lexicon only the sixties, through the Canadian psychoanalyst Elliott Jaques.
And the discussion around midlife crisis came up at a time when life expectancy was lower than what is today, and it came up at a time when the general assumption was that at 65 one retires and spends the rest of their life in a less vibrant/active lifestyle.
An Empowered Midlife – Positive Thinking
But life has changed and those beyond 65 are way more active than they were before in the sixties.
This, then, provides the opportunity to think positively.
First, one should not forget that the changes mentioned above, particularly the physical changes, cannot be avoided. One can perhaps slow down through healthy diet, exercise etc., but decline is inevitable.
Wisdom in Personal & Professional Life for an Empowered Midlife
However, it is also true that midlife is also a sign of inner strength. The ageing process comes with enormous wisdom in every aspect of life.
In personal life, midlife means we are more certain of our friendships and relationships. We have a core group of friends to talk to and to take comfort in. The children are grown up and have found their own way, certainly reflecting the care and compassion they were afforded by their parents.
And in professional life, there is so much experience gained through the years. Many started doing everything manually but gradually learnt to use all those fancy automated systems. But the automated systems don’t have the human experience and wisdom a midlifer has. We know how to handle workplace conflicts. We know how to approach challenges in executing work. We are problem solvers.
With all that accumulated experience in personal and professional spheres, one can thrive in their midlife.
And if anyone thinks it is difficult to succeed professionally in midlife, take the following examples.
- Julia Child, the well-known cookbook author known for her French culinary expertise, published her first book that made her famous when she was fifty.
- Momofuku Ando, who made instant (ramen) noodles famous came out with his product when he was 48. Then in his early sixties he went on to create the cup noodles.
- Colonel Sanders ‘finalized’ his secret KFC recipe when he was 50 but franchised his secret recipe only when he was 62.
- And Henry Ford was 45 when he came out with the famous Model T.
Word of Caution
A word of caution, though. It is not as easy as it sounds to become ultra successful in midlife. Sure, humans have tremendous potential and in midlife, one has the accumulated wisdom and experience. However, dreams should also match with reality. Can a banker give up a successful career as an executive to become a successful runner? Is it possible? It is possible but it will be a tough task if the person hasn’t done much running in their lives. Besides, even for those who have good athletes lifelong, the body’s ageing process will pose a challenge to making the dream turn to reality.
So, one should be realistic.
Marching on During Life in Transition for an Empowered Midlife
That does not mean one has to be overly cautious or depressed.
Midlife is a transition.
One should gather often with friends and family and enjoy life. Or go on solo expeditions – whether it is a walk or a trip abroad – to explore life and solitude. It is indeed an adventure to challenge the brain to allow us learn new things such as a language or a craft.
Our physical, cognitive and other functions will challenge us when we embark on a new adventure but challenges can only make one strong