I think the ”crisis” in midlife crisis is what gave it the negative ring oftentimes associated with it. The definition itself does not even help matters. Midlife crisis simply put is a loss of self confidence and feeling of anxiety or disappointment that can occur in early middle age. It is a period of life often characterized by a deep sense of confusion arising from an oftentimes unconscious re-evaluation of one’s life. It is a period when you start to have more questions than answers especially hard ones like ”is this all there is to life? Why am I doing this? What about what I need? Who am I? What is the real point of me? Why put my life off any longer?” As we grow older, things often do not turn out as nicely as we planned. We may not climb up the career ladder as quickly as we wished. Or we do, only to find out that prestige and a high income are not as satisfying as we expected them to be. At the same time, high expectations about the future adjust downwards. Midlife essentially becomes a time of double misery, made up of disappointments and evaporating aspirations. Many could even be obsessed with their own mortality as the realization that time is ticking could lead to depression. Paradoxically, those who objectively have the least reason to complain (e.g. if they have a desirable job) often suffer most. They feel ungrateful and disappointed with themselves particularly because their discontent seems so unjustified. This is often because of the fact that most of them forgot to enjoy the ride on their way up, clinging to the illusion of ”I will have it all when I get there” only to get there and realized the fun is actually in the process of getting to the top. What a wasted life!
As much as one might want to see midlife crisis as a psychological issue (especially going by the tendencies of those going through it to exhibit certain irrational behaviours such as drastic changes in habits, mood swings, and impulsive decision-making, obsession with appearances etc), there is also the need to realize that it can also be used as a springboard to rediscovering oneself, redefining one’s goals and charting a fresh course towards fulfilling destiny, if properly harnessed. Once you are able to honestly acknowledge and evaluate where you are coming from with or without the help of someone (that may at least help you see your blessings and rid you of that feeling of discontent), you can actually through determination and diligence strive towards getting to where you desire to be and you never can tell, you just might get there!
Making certain changes and taking some decisions early in life may prevent one from having a midlife crisis. When your life is driven by a strong sense of purpose, you become passionate about your dreams and pursuing your goals become fun. People who spend their lives dedicated to fulfilling their aspirations and objectives are less likely to have midlife crisis; growing older is easier for them. Knowing their purpose in life gives them stability. Whatever challenges life throws at them, their passion for what they do keeps them going against all odds. People who changed jobs or take on new challenges before their midlife years had a greater sense of generativity when they reached midlife. They find fulfilment in trying to give back to the society that nurtures them and take pleasure in contributing their own quota towards making the world a better place. For the ”late bloomers” that realized they have missed it and rediscovered purpose in the second half of their lives or those that all of a sudden are not so sure their purpose is actually worthwhile, all hope is not lost. You should first be grateful that you are alive and rather than indulge yourself in the excesses of a full blown midlife crisis, you can actually restrategize and start with what you have. Use new thoughts and ideas to create new goals in a positive way, move outside your comfort zones and seek help if need be. It is better late than never! For the vast majority of us reading this that are not even anywhere near our midlife yet, this is a wake up call that we need to buckle up, do some serious soulsearching and get passionate about why we are here, and for those on the path already, stepping up your game would not be a bad idea at all. A purpose driven, diligent life will definitely have fewer regrets than going through life on autopilot. The autopilot life will inevitably suffer midlife crisis and the second half will most likely be rocky.