I went down the rabbit hole on the world wide web this afternoon and ran across a website that peaked my interest. This particular page was called “The 12 Stages of Life” and it was on a website for the American Institute for Learning and Human Development.
Well I looked at the 12 Stages and my stage in particular, because, well, I was curious about what it would say about me and where I’m headed in life. It was kind of like getting my palm read or fortune told. I knew it would most likely be a broad statement that could apply to most of us in this age group but I wanted to see if I was “on target” I suppose.
This is what it said…
“Midlife (Ages 35-50): Contemplation – After many years in young adulthood of following society’s scripts for creating a life, people in midlife often take a break from worldly responsibilities to reflect upon the deeper meaning of their lives, the better to forge ahead with new understanding. This element of contemplation represents an important resource that we can all draw upon to deepen and enrich our lives at any age.” –
Yep, pretty much hits the nail on the head for me and explains where I’ve been from age 39 to now, at age 45. And all these years I thought midlife crisis was just an excuse middle aged men used to make irresponsible choices and buy extravagant cars that seem ridiculous to everyone but them. Turns out none of are exempt, this can happen to all of is and it doesn’t have to be a crisis. 🙂
There have been more than a few occasions I’ve wondered if I wasn’t having some sort of MLC of my own. Now I feel like this term covers most empty nesters that are wondering what their purpose is now that the kids are gone. Those of us that wake up one day and realized our life just isn’t what we thought it would be at this point and have these burning questions deep inside us that we long to know the answers to, like…
Have I done enough with the time I’ve been given?
Was this career choice a mistake?
How many more grey hairs is it gonna take before I’m 25% grey?
Are we leaving a legacy of something good when we die?
Did we really LIVE?
Have we done all the things we wanted to do?
How long before I start losing my teeth?
What’s the meaning of life?
Were we a good enough friend, parent, lover, spouse?
What can we do to make an impact on the world with the time we have left?
How can I leave a legacy for my family now?
These are the burning questions you never think of when you’re in your teens or 20’s and 30’s because we’re too busy trying to just create a life.
For me, the thoughts started creeping in when our sons were teenagers. I knew they would be leaving home soon and going on to live their lives and I wanted to find ways to distract myself, to keep myself busy. I had cut hair for about 15 years longer than I ever dreamed I would and I wanted a career change. Nowadays that means you need a college degree so I started taking classes. At first I loved it! I enjoy learning until it comes to the subjects I hate and then I don’t. The more I learned in the course of trying to obtain my business degree, the more I realized I didn’t want to work for anyone else. I’ve been self employed for far too long to go back now.
That’s when the dreaming began. I started asking myself, what would I do if money wasn’t a problem? What would I gladly do for free because I loved it so much? My answer was to do something in health and wellness. I loved exercise and hated that I never seemed to “have enough time” for it. It only seemed logical to find a way to make it my job. Crazy as that was….this Midlife Contemplation (sounds so much better than Midlife Crisis BTW) was costing me a small fortune (in student loans from the Business Degree I first pursued). Then I decided I could take all my spare time doing something I loved until I eventually sold my barber shop and went into the health and wellness business full time.
I would say pretty much everyone I knew probably thought I was making a big mistake but no one really said anything. There have been days when I questioned if I was doing the right thing. I gave up a lot of stability to fulfill a deeper passion and to fill a void that my kids left when they moved out. I keep myself busy to quiet my mind and do my best to surround myself with positive people that I look up to and that have achieved what I want to in my business.
Midlife Contemplation doesn’t have to be a time when we run up debt and quit our jobs and start drinking too much and wishing we had done things differently.
If you take anything from this post, remember that this stage of life is coming for all of us and we are all going to handle it differently depending on what we’ve been through in life.
Mostly I’ve found peace in learning who I am and what I really want my next 30-40 years to look like. I’ve learned that it’s better to live a simpler life and that I don’t need things to make me happy. I want to spend more time doing what I can helping others living healthier lives. I enjoy praying for my friends and family when they need it, spending time with my family when they are home and traveling with my husband as much as possible. I want to bring more light into the world that outshines the darkness. I want to grow really old with my husband and watch our grandkids grow up and get married. Oh and I want to be active when I’m 90 and able to enjoy life. 🙂 Everything else is just a blessing that I’ll enjoy one day at a time until the end.
So tell me about yourself. Are you in this Midlife Contemplation stage of life too? Have you found your special purpose yet? Are you happy or still searching for happiness. I’d love to hear from you. Be sure to tell me in the comments below.