From Crisis to Transformation
When we enter midlife, many of us start having the urge to do something different. We start asking ourselves questions like “What do I want to do when I grow up?” and “What is my purpose?”
Then there’s the larger existential query: “Who am I?”
These are normal questions. Some people will say this means you are in a midlife crisis. I believe this means you’re in a positive transition to finding your higher calling and purpose in life. The middle chapter of your life is a great time. It’s a rebirth of the authentic you. Start the new chapter doing what you love and the rest will follow. Here are a few tips to guide you on the journey to find your true self.
Finding your passion in midlife
Start off by writing your mission statement: What do you stand for? What are your values? What will be your legacy? Then write out your mission statement without judgment.
Is your mission statement promoting your strengths? Are you passionate about it? When we hit midlife, it is important for us to help others. We need to feel a sense of purpose in our work, a sense of making a difference. Will you be doing this?
Will your mission statement be a new career direction or a volunteer cause? Either is fine. There is no right or wrong, just making the right choice for you. You can figure this out by asking yourself: Do I love my career currently? Does my career match my values? Do I feel passionate about my career?
If you do feel passionate about your career your mission statement might already match up and you may want to add some volunteer or charity work to your life. Though a lot of my clients come to me confused about who they are and wanting to make changes to their career, that is not always the case. Some people have the right career and find they want to add more volunteer work, family time, or socialization. Writing your mission statement can help you can figure this out.
If you don’t have a passion for your current career it might be time to think about switching from the job you have to a career that you love—and there is a huge difference between the two. Between commute times, time at the office, and never being off due to technology, we spend about 60 to 80 hours a week working. With all this time and energy being used, you want to make sure you’re doing something you love.
Addressing difficult midlife questions
We all have many factors in our lives beyond our careers: following are a few more questions addressing some of the more persistent and difficult questions that come with midlife.
I feel so pulled by meeting the needs of my children, spouse, or parents. Is feeling guilty natural? And how do I control it?
It’s called “mommy guilt.” We are taught at a young age to be nurturers, which is a good thing, but there has to be a limit. We can take of others, but we also need to learn to say no! If not, we put ourselves in a situation of feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, and even angry.
To control it, we need to ask for help, learn to say no, and set up realistic expectations. If we continue to try to do everything perfectly, or to be in control of everything, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
How do I respond when others say I am being selfish when I do things for myself?
Tell them the truth: you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first. We need to be healthy in order to be there for others. Also, by taking care of ourselves, we are being a great role model for our kids. Kids need to see how important it is to respect yourself and your body.
I love my job but I can’t deal with the negative people I work with: what do I do? I don’t want to turn into a negative person.
We have to remember that moods and emotions are contagious—if we are surrounded by negative people, it could drain us. We have to set boundaries and limitations. We also need to remember not to take other peoples’ moods personally: it’s their issue, not yours. Be your happy, positive self and maybe your mood will rub off on them.
What can I do so job stress does not affect my family?
Leave work at work and set aside work-free, technology-free family time. Plan something to look forward to. Also, use your ride home as a timeout. Make it as relaxed as possible by doing some deep breathing or listening to relaxing music. Some of my clients will stop on the side of the road for a few minutes to deep breathe or meditate.
If you take care of yourself like we discussed above, you will be less stressed. Make sure to incorporate de-stressing activities in your life such as yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, and physical exercise.
I earn more at my job than my husband: how do I handle this? This has caused issues in the home.
Women who make more than their husbands are often called “breadwinner wives.” Some men don’t mind it and actually embrace it. Some women like making more money, but I also meet women who complain and go as far as calling their husbands “losers” for making less or having a part-time job. There is no right or wrong about it, just what works best for the family.
Having open communication between spouses is the only way to find out if your arrangement is working. How does each spouse feel? Once you’ve established that, you can make decisions both partners agree upon. Women, always remember to not measure the success of your relationship based on money.
I hope these tips will help you in your journey. Your middle chapter of your life is a great time, a rebirth of the authentic you. Start this new chapter doing what you love and the rest will follow.
Diane Lang is a positive living expert, nationally recognized speaker, author, educator, psychotherapist, and media expert. She has written two books: Baby Steps: The Path from Motherhood to Career and Creating Balance and Finding Happiness.