No Time For A Midlife Crisis

I HAVE A JOKE ABOUT MIDLIFE CRISIS: “My biker buddy turned 40 and went through a midlife crisis. Sold his Harley, stopped smoking, cut his hair, got an office job, and settled down with a woman his own age.”

The joke, of course, is that all those actions are the antithesis of the stereotypical midlife crisis.  

Next month I’ll be 48.  My knees hurt, tendonitis in my elbows makes typing this article painful, and I’m showing some gray.  But this is hardly a crisis.  My body’s banged up due to a half century of hard use.  I’ll take that — life’s meant to be lived actively.  

Midlife crises are arrogant.  Some folks are walking a mile to fetch water from a polluted stream, yet you’re freaking out because your libido is down?  (Important, admittedly, but not a crisis!) 

As we age we look back and say, “If I’d only known then what I know now.”  Well, knock knock, you’re there.  You DO know now what you didn’t know then.  Capitalize on your wisdom rather than sitting around moping.  I know your ears produce more hair than your head at this point, but again, that’s not a crisis! 

Midlife crises are for the weak and the whiny.  Join me on a mid life makeover instead.  Here are our categories: 

  1. Work  I started working when I was 8.  One thing I’ve discovered:  work is infinitely more enjoyable when it’s of your own choosing.  Hence, the goal from here on should be:  each day do more work of our choosing and less work we dislike.  You can do this.  Or you can complain about your job and continue talking about the business you're going to start “some day.”
  2. Intention  Most people avoid hard decisions, make life and career choices by default, then justify the result.  Now is an excellent time to map out where you want to go.  You’ve got years of experience, and by now you certainly know what doesn’t work.  Likewise, by Midlife, it’s pretty clear what yields happiness.  Seek your satisfaction intentionally.  
  3. Time  A while ago, it hit you:  you’re not going to live forever, and you’re no longer bullet proof.  Which means time is of the essence.  I give myself the 4E criteria — activities need to fit in one of these categories otherwise they’re a waste of time:  Enterprise, Exercise, Enrichment, or Enjoyment.  Why waste precious time on activities you dislike?
  4. Relationships  If you’ve done things right the past few decades, you’ve become a better person.  Sadly, lots of people become bitter persons.  It’s OK to cut them off now.  Just because you’re related or roomed together your freshman year, doesn’t obligate you to years of negativity.  Likewise, now’s a good time to double down on positive relationships that make you healthier.  

Wikipedia says the average midlife crisis is three to ten years for men and two to five years for women.  I don’t have three to ten years to burn in crisis mode.  Neither do you!