“There was a time in my 40s where I thought, oh, it’s all over – not just work, but I’m never going to feel young again, I’m always going to feel like I know what’s going to happen, I’ll know what to expect. Looking back, I don’t know if that was a midlife crisis, I don’t know – but I don’t feel that now. There’s possibilities. It gets better.”
– Paul Weller
Keep in mind that the causes of a midlife crisis are different from the signs that you may be suffering from a midlife crisis. Keep your eyes open for these sign in yourself and others. The sooner you can identify the issue, the better!
The presence of a midlife crisis can reveal itself in several ways:
- The desire to run away. It’s not uncommon to dream of running away after a bad week at work, but this is on another level. It’s a deep-rooted desire to drop out of your current life and reinvent yourself somewhere else.
- The sudden urge to quit a job. Panic that you chose the wrong career path can create the desire to do something else, or maybe just anything else. Few of us are fortunate enough to love our jobs.
- After spending 20+ years in mild misery, the pressure can build to the point that drastic action starts to feel reasonable.
- The belief that this misery will continue until you’re too old to do anything else only adds to the urgency.
- Spending a lot of time examining your childhood. There can be many reasons for this. Sometimes, we just want someone to blame. We want to know what happened to us that caused us to make less-than-perfect decisions later in life.
- We also try to remember what used to fill us with passion and where our plans were derailed.
- You might dream of starting over again. The magic age seems to be either the beginning or the end of high school, depending on the quality of your grades!
- Questioning the meaning of life and your life in particular. “Is this all there is?” It’s a common subject of contemplation among those in their adult years. After living as an adult for an extended period of time, you might start to question your assumptions and values.
- Our culture places a premium on accomplishment and acquiring possessions. These might seem attractive in your younger years, but have less significance later in life. You wonder if you’ve wasted the last couple of decades of your life.
- You might blame your parents for emphasizing certain things, such as income or worrying about the opinions of strangers.
- Questioning your long-held assumptions is one of the most common signs of a midlife crisis.
- The desire to get in shape. If you’ve been 30-pounds overweight for the last 25 years, but suddenly have the desire to see your abs, you might be having a midlife crisis.
- Getting in shape and being healthy are positive goals, but a sudden urge to make a big change can be a sign that something is going on besides a new desire to improve your health.
- Major purchases that are out of character, like a shiny, red sports car. Big purchases should also raise a red flag. It might be an expensive car instead of the economy car you’ve always been known for. It might be a swimming pool or a putting green in the backyard.
- There’s nothing wrong with enjoying yourself, just examine your motivation. You might discover something interesting.
- Replacing your current friends with younger friends. It’s easier to feel younger when you hang out with a younger crowd. They often have more energy and enthusiasm for life. It can be contagious.
- Again, having younger friends isn’t an issue, but consider your reasons. Be especially suspicious of a desire to dump long-standing friends.
- Searching for a new religion or life philosophy. Do you feel the need for a new perspective on life? Have you been a Christian for 50 years, but suddenly feel the urge to practice Tibetan Buddhism?
- Most of us keep the religions that were decided for us as children. There’s nothing wrong with making your own choice. Just ask yourself why.
- A sudden interest in adventure. Have you always enjoyed renting a condo on the same beach in Florida each summer, but suddenly have the need to ride a camel across the Moroccan desert? You might be showing signs of a midlife crisis.
- A sudden interest in extreme sports or activities. Most 47-year olds don’t suddenly choose to go rock climbing, skydiving, auto racing, or surfing. Why do you feel the need now?
- A dramatic change in hairstyle or dress or any obsession with appearance. Have you worn your hair to your shoulders since the third-grade, but now want to cut it all off? Why?
- Have you decided to dress much more casually or formally? Why?
- Feeling trapped or limited by your life. Do you dream of a life with fewer constraints and obligations? Have you lived in a suburban neighborhood for a decade but dream of living on a mountain in a cabin? Do you want to just drop your life and travel the world? Do you feel smothered?
- A strong desire for more freedom may indicate that a midlife crisis is blooming.
- Reliving the past. Did you spend your 20’s tailgating at the local college football games and now want to revive the practice? Does the idea of hitting your old drinking locations have an appeal? Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but it’s suspicious that a midlife crisis may be to blame.
There are countless symptoms of a midlife crises. Examining the past, questioning your assumptions, the desire to make a major change, or to relive the past are common signs that you may be in the midst of a midlife crisis.
What can you do about it?