In an earlier post, I wrote about Getting Real and what midlife crisis is.
A woman experiencing a midlife crisis may feel like her life is spiraling out of control. It can be scary when you start to get real and make the choice to travel a more authentic path in life. That choice is not without consequence. While midlife crisis is an introspective journey, it’s important to know that you are not alone. By reaching out for support, a midlife crisis can become a woman’s second chance to create a life of genuine meaning and happiness.
A balanced approach:
In her book, The breaking point, Sue Shellenbarger suggests that, “The challenge in midlife crisis is to integrate lost parts of ourselves without destroying the pieces of our old lives that are worth keeping. The goal should be a delicate balance between restraint and exploration. We must take our needs seriously, without losing a healthy suspiciousness of the siren song of the new people and pursuits that beckon.”
Ideally, you will find a way to respect your truth and move forward with grace and without regret. To do this, you must invest in yourself in a way that taps into the deepest and most vulnerable parts of you that may have been pushed aside for far too long. This takes courage, strength, introspection, trust and stepping beyond your comfort zone.
Evaluate the pieces of your old life that are worth keeping:
You know that you haven’t been truly happy for a while. You know things need to change. But you probably don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. As you begin to create your second half of life, take time to get clear about what you want to hold onto:
- What is it that, without a doubt, I will not leave behind?
- What’s really working that I want to maintain?
- What’s important/valuable but needs to be improved if I am willing to keep it in my life in the longer term?
Reflecting on these types of questions, writing in your journal, and talking with a trustworthy friend are all ways to get clear.
Remember the lost parts of you:
Sometimes, it’s been so long since you considered what you want, you really don’t know where to start. We need to stop the busy-ness of our lives long enough to create a quiet space to reflect on who we are now and remember what we once wanted before we did all the compromising.
Talking to people who knew you at an earlier stage in life, looking at old photos and journals, and seeking counselling can help to provide some clarity. When you identify what parts are missing, find ways to add them to your new life plan. However, you may also find that you no longer want the same things you did years ago. For that reason, you will also need to explore your new preferences.
Explore your new preferences:
Have experiences that will help you to clarify what your new preferences are. Take your time and reach out for support or mentorship when you need it to push beyond your self-perceived limits. Some ways to explore are:
- Coaching, Art Workshops and Retreats. If you allow yourself to be open and vulnerable, you can gain numerous insights from putting yourself in unfamiliar, yet safe, territory in this type of setting. It can also help you to formulate a clear plan as you move forward.
- Engage in activities that boost joy and spark laughter. How long has it been? Feeling good helps to lighten you and ignite your creativity. This can be a source for finding purpose and moving forward in an authentic way.
- What about taking a gap year? If you can manage it and it fits with what you’re searching for, why not try living a totally different lifestyle? Or, put your skills to use in a meaningful way that benefits people who really need help.
Move toward your preferences:
What do you want the second half of your life to look and feel like? What changes would bring you closer to your preferences, needs and desires? Once you have gone through the process of remembering the lost parts of you, deciding what’s working in your life that you want to hold onto as you move forward, and identifying your new preferences that you want to build on, you can make a genuine plan to create your most authentic life.
By having a plan, you can move forward in a way that honors your needs and includes restraint to avoid unnecessary chaos. This allows you to create your second life with passion and balance.
The good news is that, once you’ve genuinely transitioned through your midlife crisis, you can anticipate being as happy as you’ve ever been. Research shows that happiness increases after 45. The road of midlife crisis might be bumpy, but you can navigate with confidence if you follow your personal truth and reach out for support and inspiration when you need it.