What almost everyone gets wrong about midlife

midlife woman with a lamp shining light

Exposing 4 myths and misinformation about midlife.

Contrary to popular belief, many people experience increased happiness and life satisfaction during midlife.

Would you agree?

From my personal experience I certainly feel freer to do things and care a bit less about what people think now I am 50 (but it is still a work in progress!) However, I have also had a number of years of questioning myself and my life and purpose in my 40´s. Now I have hit my 50´s I certainly feel liberated and a desire to reinvent and reinvigorate myself and my life.

I type all this as I remind myself that, in fact, the average age for a woman to reach menopause is 51 years old. While much of our culture talks about menopause in hushed tones and with a sense of impending doom, I am trying to adopt a more curious approach, particularly assisted by the Japanese approach to menopause, konenki, which is far more empowering (see my blog post).

There is also a certainly a lot more information about midlife, perimenopause menopause these days, although I would question how much of it is accurate and framed in a way that is useful and accessible to women (and men). Here is also a post based on research I have done with some insights from women in midlife.

The Japanese talk about menopause as a time of transition to renew and grow and celebrate women´s wisdom. This is not a commonly held view in western society, but interestingly having researched for this blog post I have learnt all sorts of missapprehensions. For example, that women in their 40s and 50s are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs. So, far from how the media and we can portray or perceive menopause, it is often a time of reinvention and revitalisation!

midlife woman surrounded by waterfalls and light

What Almost Everyone Gets Wrong About Midlife: Debunking 4 Common Myths

So today I am here to shed some light on these 4 misconceptions and explore the truth about midlife. By challenging popular assumptions, we can gain a clearer understanding of the unique opportunities and challenges that midlife presents. Join me as we explore the misconceptions surrounding midlife crisis, changes in relationships, career transitions, the journey of self-discovery, and address common questions that arise during this stage.

Let’s unravel the truth and start to try and embrace midlife with wisdom and empowerment. Plus also celebrate all that feels good in our lives right now too!

I. Midlife Crisis: Yes, we have to go there and get this out there. Midlife crisis is often associated with regret and impulsive behavior, but what are people in this situation really craving? It is common for individuals to regret not pursuing their passions, neglecting personal relationships, or failing to prioritize self-care and well-being. These regrets stem from a desire for authenticity and a need to align with personal values and aspirations, whilst obviously also tinged with a fear of getting older and our ultimate demise.

The age at which adults mostly struggle with midlife crisis varies, but it typically occurs between the ages of 40 and 60. It is important to note that not everyone experiences a midlife crisis in the same way, and some individuals may navigate this stage without a crisis-like episode. Only a few people experience a midlife crisis, and it’s not always in a negative way. The midlife crisis is a time when people assess their lives, its purpose, and goals. This could lead to positive changes that can improve a person’s life. Instead of thinking about it as a time of despair, think about it as a time for reflection and possible positive changes.

midlife women together on computer

The key to how we approach midlife is critical and this often requires some support. If we don´t gently explore what is going on for us in a safe and nurturing environment we could end up ditching everything for a new partner, look, car, etc etc and still end up feeling pretty much the same. Whereas if we get to the root of what is going on we can pinpoint it and deal with it directly whether it is our fears or hopes for our health, wealth, relationships or whatever. It is so important to find someone or a tribe to go through this, feeling and supported and yes, a coach or therapist can also help a lot with this too. These can also help us navigate the myriad of information out there to find what is useful to us and make decisions based on knowledge, rather than fear.

Equally, it is important that we don´t only focus on what we feel needs improving in our lives and remember all that we are content and grateful for. Sometimes if we start to look for issues we can create more problems for ourselves and get in a negative spiral. Remembering to start with all that is going well for us and what we feel good about reminds ourselves of the positives and helps give us strength to deal with the things that we would like to improve. Exploring midlife does not mean getting rid of everything and starting again (again another common misconception!)

Midlife is not a crisis. Midlife is an unraveling. Midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: I’m not screwing around. It’s time.
– Brené Brown

II. Changes in Relationships: Midlife is erroneously seen as a period of relationship deterioration. However, research shows that midlife can actually bring opportunities for growth, renewed connections, and deeper intimacy in relationships. While some relationships may face challenges, others flourish as individuals reassess their priorities and invest in nurturing meaningful connections.

It is crucial to communicate openly, express needs and desires, and actively work on maintaining healthy relationships during this phase. This can be particularly, and in some ways, more challenging if you have kids who are getting older and are less dependent on you. There may also be other caring responsibilities in the mix, so it is even more crucial that our relationships continue to be nurtured.

journalling our feelings and emotions with a cup of coffee

III. Career Changes: Setting the record straight here, many believe that midlife is too late for career transitions, but this is a misconception. It is important to understand that midlife can be a time when people start questioning what they want to do and what their passions are. It’s a time when people consider changing their career paths to follow their dreams. The midlife career change could be an exceptional opportunity to pursue the hobbies we’ve always wanted to or learn new skills. Midlife presents an ideal time for us to reassess our professional goals, explore new interests, and make meaningful changes in their careers. While it may involve challenges such as retraining or adjusting to a new industry, midlife career changes can lead to greater satisfaction and a renewed sense of purpose.

Midlife can also be a time to reenter the workforce after caring responsibilities of children or parents have adapted. This can feel like a bit like a step into the unknown if we haven´t been in the workforce for some time. It is vital to bring awareness and compassion to ourselves as we embark on this journey as many of us can lose confidence in our skills and abilities if there is a gap in our paid working. Remembering all our strengths and achievements in and outside of work over the years are essential to boost ourselves as we take each step into the workforce again.

Again getting some support from friends, colleagues (present or past) or a coach can really help here.

Feeling invisible at work during midlife can be a common experience, as individuals may face ageism or feel undervalued. However, with proactive steps such as networking, upgrading skills, and seeking new opportunities, it is possible to overcome these challenges and thrive professionally.

midlife woman or mum looking at a map self discovery

IV. Self-Discovery in Midlife: Self-discovery is an integral part of midlife, allowing individuals to explore their identity, values, and purpose. It is a time for reflection, introspection, and embracing personal growth.

While feeling invisible and disconnected from one’s true self can occur during midlife, it is essential to recognise that these feelings can serve as catalysts for self-exploration and transformation. The journey of self-discovery in midlife involves uncovering passions, embracing new experiences, and aligning one’s life with authentic desires. During this phase, people get to learn more about themselves, their strengths, and their weaknesses. They also learn new hobbies and interests, discover new passions and talents, and become more comfortable with themselves. It is a time of growth and self-discovery. But only if we allow ourselves to go there.

Some of us may fear that starting to explore some of our fears, thoughts or secret hopes will lead to a mildlife crisis and ending relationships. However, by ignoring ourselves, things can end up way worse in the long run. If we start to approach ourselves with open curiosity each day we can start to make small changes to improve our lives and not end up making rash decisions which we may later regret.

midlife women together with support

First off we need the courage to bring awareness to what is going on for us, which may be different to our partner, friends, family and that is ok. We all go through life in different way and midlife is no different. It doesn´t just need to be a case of grumbling about our body shape, being on endless diets and going on HRT for whatever menopause symptom/s we are dealing with (although these may also be the ´right´ options for us too!) If we explore what is happening for us with gentle curiosity and armed with resources and support then we can deal with what is true for us in a calm and empowered way. However, this phase can be more dauting, especially when surrounded by a sceptical to fear-inducing culture.

Having support is crucial.

Finding someone or a small group to navigate a new way of doing, being, relating can really help as we explore new territory and create a life that we are excited about in this new phase.

It can lead to a new surge in energy, excitement for the future in our relationships, careers, family life. But we have to allow ourselves to go there. We have to give ourselves permission to be curious and explore, just like we did in our teens and 20s.

Midlife is a new time to see what we want in our lives and gets us excited!

So let´s dispel all the myths around midlife and how we are told or thought we had to live it or endure it.

Instead we get to decide!

Would you like to have a revitalised midlife?

Yes, me too!

What are you feeling good about in your life right now?

What would you like to feel better about?

What would you like to explore doing first?

As always, I LOVE to hear from you with your experiences, questions, comments, thoughts and please also feel free to get in touch if you would like to chat – obligation free. Please do share below it is always wonderful to connect! Thanks so much for reading and please do share with someone else if you think it may be useful to them too.

woman on the beach surrounded by sunrise and reflections

Images: Centre for Ageing Better, Mohamed Nohassi, Kalen Emsley, Baran Lotfollahi

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