Psychologists have not yet determined why people in 50+ industrialized nations experience crises at midlife. Midlife crises is often associated with reaching a certain age. However, the onset of the crisis is often triggered by an event rather than another candle on the birthday cake. An event such as an illness or other setback does not discriminate based on age. Such an event can come at a time when you and your career are at peak performance. Such a crisis is certainly a major reason why executives hire executive coaches.
“What’s next?” is one of life’s most worrisome questions. "What's next?" along with "Who am I now?" is something I hear from my clients. These two questions, alone or in unison, are main reasons to engage a coach who can help you set a solid personal foundation by evaluating or perhaps re-evaluating your cherished convictions, morals and guiding principles. A solid personal foundation will help you to maintain resilience.
Experiencing disappointment as a result of age, illness, or other setbacks doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. It does signal that something may be missing or best-case-scenario, that an opportunity is awaiting your attention.
There’s a mental shift at midlife from “time since birth” to “time left until death.” It's that time when we begin to realize (increasingly) that the weeks fly by and the past weekend was a blur. We begin to feel time is running out. We assess and sometimes obsess about the shortening horizon. More crucially, we begin to question whether what drove us in the first half of life is worthy of pursuing for a fulfilling second half.
The Gems of Wisdom and Purpose-Driven Disruption
The good news is that midlife, illness, and setbacks hold gems for us - gems of wisdom and purpose-driven disruption. Being aware of the pitfalls associated with the particular experience can prevent us from committing irreparable errors. For example, if you know you’re vulnerable to doubts, anxieties and mood swings, you can stop yourself from storming out of a meeting or acting out of desperation. Being conscious of how your emotional awareness is linked to your emotional expression can help you to choose the best and most appropriate emotion in solving a problem.
If you feel trapped, unable to accept the concept of purposeful disruption, and unable to engage in transition, midlife or recovery from illness or setback can become a truly dangerous life passage. Perhaps Carl Jung said it best:
We cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning—for what was great in the morning will be little at evening, and what in morning was true will at evening have become a lie.
In my coaching work with executives facing personal and professional transition, we explore purpose and the stories we tell ourselves about what we live for. Often, the stories we told ourselves at the beginning of our careers are no longer working for us. I often hear "Is there still a fit?"
Without knowing what you live for, and without being able to clearly articulate it, you will be challenged to find the deeper meaning and fulfillment you need. You will have difficulty knowing "What's next." and being in touch with "Who I am now."
What about you? Are you embracing a purpose-driven disruption and transition. Please do share your story as it will add to the growing optimistic approach to disruption and transition at midlife and mid-career.
Finding a Champion.... An Accredited Coach
If you are currently reassessing your work and life at midlife, mid-career, or after an illness or other setback, I strongly recommend finding an accredited coach who specializes in this transition and who will be your champion. Look for a coach who is certified in Emotional Intelligence. You can find a coach on the International Coach Federation (ICF) website - "Need Coaching?". Or, contact me. I would love to assist you in finding the best coach for you. I refer only to world-class coaches who are my trusted colleagues.