Empowering the Freelance Economy

Midlife crisis: what are the chances you’ll have one?

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Ah, the midlife crisis. A cultural touchstone, a punchline in sitcoms, and a potential pit stop on the highway of life. But what are the real chances of encountering this emotional detour, and can we take the crisis out of midlife?

Studies, those wonderful harbingers of both comfort and panic, tell us only about 10% of the population suffers a midlife crisis. The rest of us could however experience a period of questioning, yearning, and the sudden urge to buy or experience something exhilarating. When put this way, it doesn’t sound so awful.

Midlife is naturally a period of reflection and reassessment. This can involve questioning your career path, re-evaluating relationships, or crossing your fingers in the hopes a higher power will lead you to your true calling (if there was a higher power hotline we’d all be calling it).

So, what might this “reflection” look like? Well, it’s a spectrum, ranging from healthy introspection and self-transcendence to full-on channelling your inner Indiana Jones.

Now, the important part: how do we turn this potential crisis into a springboard for something positive? Here are some tips:

Talk about it: Communicate with your loved ones about your feelings and desires. They might surprise you with their support (and maybe even join you in that pottery class). Don’t bottle up those feelings, even if family is not as helpful as you would have hoped. Share your dreams with a trusted friend, therapist, or even someone you get to know well through a club or the daily dog walk.

Embrace the introspection: Use this time to reconnect with your values and goals. What truly matters to you? What brings you joy?

Seek professional help if needed: There’s no shame in seeking guidance from a therapist or counsellor. They can help you navigate this period of change and growth.

Remember, you’re not alone: This is a common experience, and countless resources are available to help you through it.

Take calculated risks: If you’ve always wanted to learn to surf (or llama shepherding), now might be the time. Just remember, start small and avoid spontaneous purchases.

Channel your inner Indiana Jones: Dust off your fedora and embark on a quest for a long-forgotten dream. Remember, it’s never too late to learn that language you always wanted to speak, or finally attempt that pottery class. Just take out insurance if you go running with the bulls in Pamplona.

Embrace the Marie Kondo method: Does your career spark joy? Does your social circle spark joy? If not, thank them for the memories (or lack thereof) and politely (or not-so-politely, depending on the situation) say it’s time to tidy up or “konmari”.

Take up a new hobby that makes absolutely no sense to anyone else: Embrace the weird and wonderful. You only have one life to live. Who knows, you might just discover a hidden talent (or at least provide endless entertainment for your loved ones).

The power of self-transcendence in midlife

A study published in the Journal of Personality sheds light on the significance of self-transcendence in the lives of midlife adults, offering valuable insights into navigating this pivotal stage.

What is self-transcendence? It’s the experience or realisation when you feel you are a small part of a much bigger picture. You find meaning and purpose in that connection. People often feel this when they look out at the vastness of a sea or ocean. While taking a walk in a forest, in the snow at night or looking up a a star-filled sky.

It’s the ability to look beyond your immediate self and connect with something larger. This could mean:

  • Feeling a sense of unity with others and recognising our shared humanity.
  • Connecting to the natural world and appreciating its beauty and power.
  • Finding meaning in a spiritual belief or a sense of purpose that guides your life.
  • Focusing on helping others and contributing to the greater good.

Seeking meaning

Researchers delved into the narratives of 144 late-midlife adults in their mid-to-late fifties, encouraging them to share stories that shaped their lives. These narratives, viewed as “chapters” in a larger story, included highlights, challenges, turning points, and personal growth experiences.

The analysis revealed a crucial role for self-transcendence in midlife development. This concept describes the desire to connect the dots of our past, present, and future, seeking meaning and purpose within the larger story of our lives.

The study also yielded some interesting findings:

  • Groups with higher self-transcendence: Demographic data revealed that middle-class Black women scored the highest, while affluent white adults scored the lowest.
  • Characteristics of highly self-transcendent individuals: These individuals view life as an “exciting journey of self-discovery,” are fascinated by their inner world and connections, and display a remarkable acceptance of life’s challenges, both personal and universal.

So, what does this mean for you? Self-transcendent individuals tend to process difficult experiences and move forward without getting bogged down by regret, according to a report by Psychology Today.

  • A sense of belonging: They experience a strong sense of connection, both with loved ones and with humanity and nature as a whole.
  • Lifelong growth: They describe their lives as a continuous journey of self-improvement, driven by self-knowledge and acceptance.
  • Connection to something bigger: They often report feeling connected to something larger than themselves, regardless of their religious beliefs.

How to take the crisis out of midlife

Remember, a midlife crisis doesn’t have to be a drama-filled spectacle. By embracing reflection, fostering communication, and taking calculated risks, you can turn this potential pit stop into a springboard for a more fulfilling and joyful second act.

Even if you aren’t near midlife, the next time you find yourself questioning your life choices and contemplating a career change to become a professional yodeler (no judgment), remember, it’s not the end of the world. It’s just the beginning of a new chapter, one filled with potential, growth, and maybe even a little bit of laughter (even at yourself). After all, isn’t that what life’s all about?

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