“Everything I read about hitting a midlife crisis was true. I had such a struggle letting go of youthful things and learning how to exist and have enthusiasm while settling into the comfort of an older age.”
– David Bowie
You have a good attitude. You just need a solution. Finding a suitable solution to a midlife crisis requires flexibility, creativity, and an open mind. It’s necessary to let go of the past and allow for an alternative you may not have ever considered. Being too attached to a particular outcome is at least half of the problem.
Create a solution to your midlife crisis:
- Determine the cause of your midlife crisis. Put some time into this and determine the actual cause. There only a few common causes:
- Your own mortality.
- A perceived lack of options.
- Many other causes are actually a version of items on this list. For example, you might be an accountant, but always wanted to be a physician. The issue is aging or a lack of options. Otherwise, you’d be able to pursue your dream of being a doctor.
- What are you missing? What would you have gained if your life had been the way you desired?
- What would having children mean to you?
- What if you lived forever? How would that be comforting?
- If you had the perfect relationship, what would you get from it?
- What can you substitute for what you’re missing? If you’re upset that you never had children and are too old to start, what else could you do? Maybe you could be a foster parent or volunteer with children.
- Once you know what you’re missing, search for an alternative that can satisfy the same needs.
- Set goals. Once you’ve determined a substitute, create goals that will enable you to accomplish your objective.
- Avoid giving up. Expect some challenges along the way.
A midlife crisis can feel like the end of the world. However, a solution can be found if you’re open to other alternatives. Keep an open mind and examine what you believe you would receive if your life were different. It’s just a matter of finding something that can fulfill the same needs. Set appropriate goals and see them through.
“It is utterly false and cruelly arbitrary to put all the play and learning into childhood, all the work into middle age, and all the regrets into old age.”
– Margaret Mead
Let’s look at an example.
Imagine that you’ve always dreamed of being a neurosurgeon. That was your dream from the time you were 9 years old. You did well in high-school and attended a good college. You had the grades and test scores to get into medical school.
However, you decided that you were sick of school and couldn’t stand the thought of four more years, not to mention the 6 years of residency necessary to become a neurosurgeon. Now you’re 55 years old and work as an accountant.
Your dad just died, and it has triggered some soul searching. You’re finally faced with the undeniable truth that you’ll never be a neurosurgeon.
What can you do?
You already know the cause of your midlife crisis. You’ll never have the career you desire. You have two kids in college and lack the finances to attend medical school. Neurosurgery residency programs don’t like older residents anyway.
What would a career as a neurosurgeon mean to you? What would you get out of it?
You decide that:
- You would be helping people.
- You would be respected by society.
- Your mom would be proud of you.
- You would receive a large income.
- You would enjoy the challenge of attending medical school and residency.
What is a suitable substitute?
- Helping others. There are countless ways to help others. You don’t need to be a doctor to be helpful. You can volunteer or take a position with a charity. Coach a baseball team for children. In fact, doctors can only help one person at a time. You can find a way to help millions.
- Do you actually need this? Working on your self-esteem might be in order. A healthy adult isn’t too concerned about the opinions of others. However, there are ways to be respected other than being a doctor.
- Parental pride. Again, this is something that might not be as important as you think. Your mom might actually prefer that you had been a priest. But there are other ways to make her proud. Just being a good, happy person is enough for most parents.
- A physician is all but guaranteed to make a substantial income, but there are even better options if money is a concern. A successful entrepreneur, investor, or real estate agent can make far more money than any neurosurgeon even dreams of making. There are other ways to make a lot of money that require less time and effort.
- Becoming a physician is challenging, but so are climbing Mount Everest, writing a best-selling novel, and starting your own company.
You might decide to start your own business that helps low-income families with housing. You’d have the potential to meet all of the needs fulfilled by a career as a neurosurgeon.
- There’s the potential for challenge, excellent income, respect from your neighbors and society, and making your mom proud. You’re also helping others.
There’s an alternative if you’re willing to look. Setting goals is the final step.
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