Let’s face it: no one looks forward to being in midlife. It’s a no man’s (and no woman’s) land where you feel unsure about your place in the grand scheme of things.
You’re not young, but you certainly aren’t old. Your relationships are likely to be changing; your body is morphing in mysterious and challenging ways; you may find yourself so busy with things and people who need you that you just don’t have time to take care of yourself the way you should. You’re exhausted. You begin to wonder if it’s all downhill from here.
As a friend of mine recently confided: “I’m very busy and very bored at the same time . . . I guess I’m somewhat resigned to the rhythm.”
Now more than ever, we have the talent, the energy and the desire to do great things. But we have no construct for how to think about and grow in this time of life.
Defining a New Life Stage
It certainly doesn’t have to be this way.
How we think about, and experience, our midlife years is ripe for change. The truth is that now more than ever, we have the talent, the energy and the desire to do great things. But we have no construct for how to think about and grow in this time of life. I want to change that!
I call this life stage between about 45 and 65 “Middlescence.”
Think of it like a second adolescence. We have questions about our place in the world and are wondering about our future. Our sense of self and identity is evolving. Just like adolescence, Middlescence is emerging from a demographic and cultural shift in our country, and naming it will change the way we experience this impactful part of our lives.
3 Truths About Life’s Newest Stage
But I think we can make our middle years life’s most treasured stage and here are three reasons why:
1. We are happier. A Harris Poll found that adults over 40 are more likely to be happy than their younger cohort. And that happiness continues to grow through our elder years.
Research has shown that even controlling for financial resources, employment status and children, our levels of self-reported happiness dip to the lowest point in the mid-40’s, rise again around age 46 and then continue to rise as we age.
2. We are living longer. Since 1900, we’ve added about three full decades to our life expectancy. That’s extraordinary. Contrary to assumptions, those years we’ve added are not years of decrepitude at the end. We have added a new stage to the middle. This new stage is creating opportunities we are just figuring out what to do with.
3. We have the tools to help us grow during this stage. We are at an inflection point of personal evaluation and desire for more meaning in our lives. Much like an entrepreneur approaches a new concept, we are experiencing challenges and need to creatively address them.
Our joints may be creakier and we may not bounce back as quickly after a late night concert as we did in our 20s, but we have assets like experience, expertise and wisdom that can create change in and around us.
The Chance to Make New Choices
In Middlescence, we cycle in and out of roles and experiences — some that are characteristic of midlife and some that are more “expected” in younger life.
New research from The Allianz Longevity Project provides insight into what we would like to change about the path of our lives. Forty-nine percent of those responding to the Allianz study feel a longer life enables a totally different view of how and when life choices are made.
And choices are good. Because 32 percent of us regret the major choices we have made — like our education and our profession/work.
During Middlescence, we can make new choices and take more risks, unencumbered by the commitments and responsibilities of our younger lives. That’s the exciting part of this new stage. The choice of what we do when is ours and ours alone.
Are You a Middlescent?
In addition to being between the ages of 45 to 65, there are key qualifiers for Middlescence. See if you identify with these:
I want to help you live a happier midlife filled with inspiration and energy, and the courage to choose your best life. That’s why I’m kicking off a midlife revolution called The Middlescence Factor. You can learn more about it at my website, Barbarawaxman.com.