A friend called me, “you should write on mid life crisis”. What’s that ? I started thinking having passed midlife, without stopping to think of it and reached a senior level running the final lap, maybe. Where was I during that session of life. What is midlife, for some it may be 40, others 45-50. Looking back, after 19 years in a government of India undertaking, MECON, I decided to move out with no proper reason, no ambition and still headed for gulf. All my well wishers were shocked and advised me against it. I painted a rosy picture, convinced them and followed a carrot. I did not think of it as a mid life crisis, however may be it was and I did not know it. Learnt a few lessons for survival, to be on my own (supported by my relatives, thanks), swim against the current, work independently with a positive outlook that the down time will be over, really not knowing how. Finally came back to India, staying away from the family was not worth a dime, with the help of a friend (who went out of his way) to get me a job in Ashok Leyland. Meanwhile another friend connected me to BFL, now MphasiS.. It was the toughest moment in my life, going to my friend Ramachandran and telling him, I am joining MphasiS and not Ashok Leyland. It was the right decision in the long run, personally, however at the cost of huge dent in our relationship. We are friends now, he has forgiven me, though the scars remains. My mid life crisis was that moment when I had to choose MphasiS over Ashok Leyland, upsetting a person who was helping me to put my life back on track. I accepted another friend’s, Achari, help, who connected me to M Radhakrishnan and I joined BFL, with a terrible state of mixed feelings, embarrassingly apologetic to Ramachandran and thankful to Achari and MRK. That was my midlife story.
Since long ago, I have redefined the words like crisis, problems as situations to deal with. It makes things easier. Accept the situation, whether its loss of a job, money, a loved one, health or whatever. Do not resist it by howling oh why it has happened to me. It has happened , it is the reality and grieve over it for some time, no need of suppressing your tears or emotions. Next, act, if replaceable, do it else go ahead without it. None of us can have everything for ever.
Every situations ( what you call problem) can be categorised under three headings, health, career/job/finance, relationship. Tell me another one, if you know. Something is bothering you, check under which category, it will be under any of the three mentioned. Once you categorise, it is easy to deal with it. This is at every stage in life and also in midlife.
Coming to the assignment my friend gave me to write on midlife crisis, I spent some time talking to people to understand midlife crisis, without using the term, about their life status. I further did some research in the internet and here it is. Since I am collecting from various sources it can be termed as research, if it was from one source it would have been called plagiarism.
Signals in midlife situations
- Unhappy with life and the lifestyle.
- Boredom with people and things that have been of interest.
- Feeling a need for adventure and change.
- the choices made in life and the validity of decision..
- Anger at the spouse and blame for feeling tied down.
- A desire for a new and passionate, intimate relationship.
- Unable to make decisions about where to go with their life..
- Childhood issue that were never dealt with may come to the surface during this time.
- Drastic Changes in Habits, Mood Swings, and Impulsive Decision-Making
- Shifts in Sleeping Habits
- Feeling Tied Down, with No Chance for Change
- Thoughts of Death or Dying
- Changing Careers
- Bouts of Depression
- Increased Consumption of Alcohol or Drugs
- Recent Traumas
- Chucking the job
- Throwing away the security built during the first part of his life
Dealing with the situation
While I was dealing with the midlife situation of others, I came across suggestions by different people like Margolies, Colarusso (And I do not know who they are)
- Remember the alternative
You are still alive. That’s got to be something of a result and you did not die young.
- Don’t presume every cough is lung cancer
So don’t go to the doctor every time you have a symptom that persists for more than 12 hours.
- Don’t have an affair
Yes, your partner might not be quite as gorgeous as he or she once was, but take a look in the mirror. You are no oil painting yourself.
- Don’t worry obsessively about work
If you have got your eyes set on a particular job, it’s almost bound to end in disappointment. These days you can count yourself lucky to have any job. And if you don’t have one, try to take some pleasure in the fact that loads of people you know will be losing theirs in the next few years.
- Don’t transfer your neuroses on to your kids
Stop getting worked up about the extra maths tutorials, the football coaching and the music lessons. Face it, they almost certainly aren’t going to get into Oxbridge, play professional football or be a world-class concert pianist. They are just bog-standard kids: much the same as everyone else’s.
- Don’t go buying midlife toys
Nothing screams complete idiot more than the sight of a middle-aged man with a load of expensive gadgets. Not so long ago, you could identify these men by their sports cars or motorbikes. This year’s midlife accessory is the fixed-wheel racing bike.
- Turn off your BlackBerry or any other Smart ones
If not in the evenings, then at least at weekends (if Gucci CEO Roger Polet can do it, so can you). And it may be hard to believe, but your family would quite like to have the chance to ignore you rather than always be ignored by you.
- Make time to go out
I know you’re knackered and just want to put your feet up once the kids are in bed, but try to go out with your partner – or at least your friends – once a week. At best, you can talk to one another and you might even remember why you first fancied each other.
- Acknowledge the situation
Acknowledging the changes happening can help you find a way to move past the crisis.
- Think Before Making Any Radical Changes
Before quitting a job, buying an expensive car, or leaving a spouse, talk to family members and friends. Sometimes, having an outside opinion can provide a useful perspective.
- Get Professional Help
This can include different kinds of therapy, medicine, and holistic treatments.
- Midlife Crises Are Not Inherently a Bad Thing
Use new thoughts and ideas in a positive way. With careful consideration and preparation, attitudes can improve with change, lessening the effects of the crisis.
- Move Outside Your Comfort Zone
Trying a new activity, increasing a base of knowledge, and travelling can also help you move out of your comfort zones.
- Volunteer More
Volunteering to help others can offer a new perspective to the problems caused by a midlife crisis. Working with the homeless or victims of domestic violence, for example, can help provide you with context during a midlife crisis.
- Be thankful for the good things.Take time to be grateful for the parts of your life that make you happy, Margolies says. Ask yourself how you’d feel if you took an action that caused you to lose them.
- Ask whether your wishes are realistic.Men make plenty of successful changes in their 40s and beyond: Going back to college, travelling the world, or starting their own business. Just make sure your new goals are practical and within your grasp.
- Avoid jolting your loved ones.“Realize that you may not need to blow up your life to be happy,” Margolies says. “But if it needs to be dismantled, then doing so thoughtfully will be less destructive to the people around you.”
One thing I have noticed, you reach your peak around midlife at least in your career. You may find a few others may be two slots above you in their career, don’t worry, leave them alone and be happy where you are. Learn a few other skills before you reach your mid or use your expertise in other areas.
If you do not change direction, you will end up where you are heading for.