Such a dramatic term, with not so subtle hints of negativity surrounding it- a mid-life crisis, as it’s called, is something that many people experience at some point in their lives. It doesn’t even have to happen in mid-life (studies show Milennials are experiencing them in their 20’s), nor does it always reflect the stereotypes we see played out on TV and the movies. Its much more than the cliche of the balding man buying a sports car and sporting gaudy leather jackets and racing gloves, or the single Mom who starts dating men half her age- its a shift or call to action to re-evaluate one’s life purpose and/or priorities.
I have re-branded the term to mid-life retrospective (shout out to Agile PM). I call it a retrospective because I reserve the term crisis for serious emergencies like famine or violence. It’s also because I feel like I have been reflecting on my life, and what currently takes up my time, uses my money, and my energy. For the past year (or 18 months) I have been taking inventory of my life and deciding what serves me and what doesn’t. This retrospective started after I had noticed some feelings of emptiness and boredom, and I had no obvious reason for feeling the way I did. Being an analytical person, I spend a lot of time evaluating my emotions and my intentions, always searching for a solution or the trigger that was/is inducing these feelings of confusion and loss of direction.
I don’t know about you, but I have never really had a clear direction I wanted to take in life or a specific passion that I wanted to cultivate. I have a lot of interests, but the attention span of a flea. I am admittedly envious of those people who know what they are good at, have the drive to go after it and not lose interest a few days, weeks, months in. This blog for example, I started it early this year and haven’t posted anything in several months. I call it Severe Squirrel Syndrome aka SSS. To my point- lets get back on track! Part of my confusion and feelings of being lost came from not knowing what my purpose or path was supposed to look like. I worked for a telecommunications company for 13 years and still felt unsure and unfulfilled. I graduated with my Bachelors in Social Media Marketing this year, and I didn’t even want to pursue that as a career. Truth be told, my ideal career would be talking with people and discussing the meaning of life. Not sure how much philosophers make and much schooling is required to teach it, but that’s an idea.
I recently started following Gary Vee on Instagram after hearing him on Jay Shetty’s podcast On Purpose, and this guy is giving me life and so much affirmation that its okay to not know what you want to do for a living. So much pressure is put on us by our parents, friends, and society to decide what we want to do at a young age. There are many people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s who have changed careers later in life and started something totally new. Some people would call that crazy, I call it brave. My father, who is about to turn 65 years old, is opening a brand new business being a travel guide/companion. Last year I accepted a generous package to leave the company I’d been with for 13 years. I was scared to leave and try something new, but even more afraid of staying out of fear. I was bored, and I didn’t believe in the vision of the company anymore. I am now working in a new field, and I took a significant pay cut. I’d be lying if I said there haven’t been times where I question if I made the right decision, but the answer is always yes!
The reality is, I may end up staying with company or career type for the long run, OR I may find that its not fulfilling and try something else. And that is 100% OKAY! We have been brainwashed to think that or paths must be planned out and straight, with no detours. I say bullshit! The beauty is in the journey. If you are reading this and think I am in some special situation where its easier to take these risks and minimize failure, but you would be wrong. When I left my last job, I was still dealing with panic disorder and agoraphobia (which is a fear of leaving your home). I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to leave my house and go across the street to the store, let alone 20 miles to a new workplace with people I didn’t know or trust. I am also a single mother, who gets the minimum child support benefit and has a LOT of debt. Still, I took the chance. One of the luxuries I did have was taking time off before starting a new job, which helped me recover significantly from my anxiety. Its amazing what two months off of work, with pay and freedom will do for the human spirit. Part of the downside of corporate America is the stress level, and being treated as a machine and not a person. I do not regret leaving my previous employer, even with the uncertain future ahead of me. Money can buy you things, but it can’t buy you peace. I’ve read studies that say the more money you have, the more anxiety or fear you have about losing it. Um, no thanks!
Aside from changing jobs, there was a lot more that went into navigating through this mid-life retrospective- but that’s for another blog! Reality is I am still going through the discovery process of who I really am, not the person I pretend to be or who people want me to be..what I want and where I am going. Its okay to not have it all together, its okay to fail, its okay to start over, its okay to have doubts, but keep moving forward and exploring. Evaluating your life- your job, your relationships, your mental state, your physical health are all important and positive things. Its never too early or too late to start, and a Ferrari and a push up bra are not required to start the journey!
Until next time my friends…