A Midlife Crisis is the Result of a Serious Mistake: You’ve Been Going with The Flow
In our youth, parents encourage us to form positive visualizations of the future. If you’re like most other people, you’ve probably wished for something big, like being a movie star, a superhero, or a massively wealthy philanthropist who will end global poverty.
Back then, it’s easy to be optimistic, especially when everyone reassuringly states that you can be whatever you want in life.
Thirty or fifty years later, here you are – feeling underachieved, underappreciated, unsatisfied, and undervalued by society. Desperate for change, you may begin switching up your lifestyle even if it means risking your family’s stability. And if you fail to get positive results, you feel as if you’re the biggest disappointment in the world.
These are some the signs of being in a midlife crisis. Coined by psychologist Elliot Jacques in 1965, it describes a phase in a person’s life between ages 40 and 65. It garnered a lot of attention in the 80s, but it was generally rejected by academic research as a normal phase for adults.
What are the Symptoms of Midlife Crisis?
As such, a midlife crisis isn’t recognized as a formal diagnostic category. Still, numerous studies as well as anecdotal evidence have isolated the following symptoms:
- Irrational Urge for Physical Transformation – A common symptom is the sudden urge to become physically active. This isn’t surprising, given that the acknowledgement of mortality is one of the reasons why adults experience a midlife crisis. Men, for example, may suddenly get into sports while women may turn to weight loss programs. The problem arises when they begin to overexert themselves and try to compete with younger individuals, resulting in disappointment, frustration, and possible injuries.
- Having or Seriously Considering Sexual Affairs – Another reason why middle-aged people seek physical transformation is that they’re somehow trying to restore their youthfulness. As a result, it may drive them to seek validation from others. Whether discovered or not, this may have serious implications in that person’s life. On the flip side, it may significantly decrease a person’s sexual desire, especially if they fail to find a potential romantic interest.
- Depression – A telltale sign of being in a midlife crisis is the frequent episodes of anxiety, fear, and resentment. This is normally triggered when middle-aged people compare their lives with their more affluent peers. While these emotions are devastating enough by themselves, the stress associated with a midlife crisis may also manifest into physical symptoms such as exhaustion, weakened immune system, and increased consumption of alcohol, tobacco smoke, or even drugs.
- Reduced Self-Confidence – Accompanying depression is the strong sense of remorse for past failures, missed opportunities, and—in some cases—lost loved ones. Questions such as “what have I been doing with my life” or “what’s the point” are the usual triggers for the deep sense of regret. If employed, it may lead the individual to blame their current career, which causes low motivation and performance at work. The physical signs of aging also contribute greatly to that person’s lowered self-worth.
Understanding the Problem
The first step to solving any problem is to first understand it – learn how it affects you, dissect its roots, and determine when it began.
As a middle-aged individual, exhibiting any of the symptoms above will clearly diminish your quality of life. It can also lead you to make major decisions out of impulse, such as moving to your hometown, quitting your job, or purchasing a luxury car. Why? Because upon realizing that the sense of accomplishment is hard to earn, you sought a way to “buy” it instead.
And this is exactly the kind of behavior that led you to the midlife crisis.
Somewhere along the line, you lost sight of your childhood aspirations and made do with the choices presented to you. In other words, you went with the flow and tried to compensate for life’s hardships by settling for easier options. And now that you feel like your time is running out, you succumb to panic and frantically look for easy ways to turn your life around.
1. Don’t be afraid of time
Time is of the essence when dealing with a midlife crisis. But rather than being afraid of it, you need to conquer it and make every second count.
Your midlife can be considered as “crunch time” – it’s now or never. The first thing you should do is to eliminate activities brought about by midlife crisis, such as going clubbing or meeting with a romantic interest. This should free up your schedule enough to introduce more productive activities.
A good example is making amends with everyone who were affected – starting with your family. In addition to the much-needed apology, consider activities that bring the family closer together, like home improvements, going out on vacation, or even starting a small business.
2. Let go of midlife toys
No – your mistakes in the distant past can no longer be undone, but you can still fix the problems you’ve caused during your midlife crisis.
For example, if you bought midlife toys such as cars, expensive gadgets, or any other luxury you don’t need, now’s the time to let them go. Sure, money may not be a problem for you at this point in your life, but it’s certainly not the time for you to be wasteful either.
Take note: if you still aren’t retired, you’re not yet in the clear. As much as possible, stick to valuable investments such as your house, your marriage, and the education of your children.
3. Continue working on your health
Believe it or not, a midlife crisis has a silver lining – it may introduce you to the importance of physical fitness. However, you need to redefine your goals.
If you are to engage in physical activities, do so because you value your health and look forward to the many years you still have in the future. Don’t do it because you cling to your youthful days, or simply want to compete with younger people.
As proof of your renewed motivation for exercising, try to invite your loved ones along and make it a bonding activity.
4. Worry less
Be it on your health, money, or image – you need to ditch the pessimism and embrace the fact that you’re back on the driver’s seat. Try not to overthink and focus only on what you know.
Eventually, you must accept that certain things can never be changed. Any failure is only a loss if didn’t learn your lesson. What matters is that you did your absolute best – no corners cut, no complaints, no regrets, and no midlife crisis.