At dinner last week one of my girlfriends (let’s call her Donna) blurted out “I think I’m having a midlife crisis. I mean, is this all there is?”. Sadly, the statement was not shocking. Not because Donna’s life is a mess. Far from it! She is one of the most successful women I know. In fact, on the outside, her life looks picture perfect.
No, Donna’s has it all together, it’s just that I was there a few years ago. My career was going great and my personal life was everything I hoped for. I’d achieved what I wanted but I still wasn’t happy or satisfied. Frankly, I felt fed up with my life, unsure what would actually make me content.
It was this pivotal point in my life that led me to seek out a new path for myself. It also led me to realise that my situation was not unique.
As I asked questions, I realised that so many successful, driven women, want more from their careers and lives. Which leads to a mounting frustration that they don’t know how to find fulfilment and genuine happiness in their lives.
So if think you’re facing a midlife or quarter-life crisis, or if you’re feeling frustrated, misaligned or even just a little lost – keep reading because this is for you!
What exactly is a midlife or quarter-life crisis?
A midlife crisis isn’t a diagnosis, it’s a construct coined by the psychologist Elliot Jacques in the 60’s to define the period when people ‘reckon with their mortality’.
It often conjures images of a salt and pepper haired man driving a convertible with a 20-something by his side. But this view is outdated.
The truth is both women and men experience points of reflection or ‘crisis’ at various points in their life.
For some, it strikes at quarter-life, for others mid-life. Or it might be it’s triggered by a significant life event such as redundancy, separation, an illness or death.
But what defines a crisis at any age is the sense that something is wrong. That feeling that ‘I’ve missed the boat’ or wondering ‘is this all there is?’ It is the sense that our life is off-course and struggling to find enjoyment and fulfilment.
Signs of crisis point
Quarter-life or midlife crisis typically begin with self-reflection. Some key signs are:
- Feeling bored, apathetic and disconnected
- Considering the meaning of your life and asking deep questions about your existence (e.g. ‘am I enough?’ or ‘is this all there is?’)
- Thinking a lot but taking little or no action
- Being unsure of your purpose or what excites you anymore; and
- Feeling like you’re living on autopilot
This ‘crisis’ point is different to depression or severe anxiety, which can include experiencing dramatic weight changes loss or gain, personal neglect, extreme mood changes or suicidal thoughts. If you experience any of these symptoms, please seek expert help through your doctor or support services such as Beyond Blue or other helplines.
How to move forward and find fulfilment
Yes, I know it sounds very ‘Kum-ba-ya’ but reaching a crisis point does have a silver lining. Because it gives us with the chance to take stock and assess what we want in life.
It is the opportunity to redefine our own happiness and create a path for a more fulfilling life. Because once we know what we want, we can create a plan to make it happen and get into action.
Now, this process takes time and effort, but here are some quick tips to get started to pull yourself out of the funk and start finding more fun and fulfilment.
- Approach this phase with curiosity – Don’t get fixated on the fact you’re dissatisfied. Instead, keep an open mind and approach everything with curiosity and without judgement
- Acknowledge your achievements – In the midst of unhappiness, we often forget the amazing things we have accomplished in our lives. So take 30 minutes and write down all the things you are proud of, big and small
- Seek inspiration – Work out what gets you excited or brings you joy. It can be as simple as putting on your favourite song, a quick swim in the ocean or flicking through a beautiful coffee table book. Take the time to identify what inspires and excites you and then set aside 10 minutes every day to do it
- Identify what you want – Start a list of all the things you want in your life. Imagine there were no limits to what was possible and give yourself permission to reimagine a remarkable life for yourself
- Get support – You do not need to battle through this alone. Find support from someone who believes in your abilities and will be your number one advocate. It might be a close friend, partner or a coach.
A final thought…
I want to leave you with this:
You are not alone and you are not a failure.
So many amazing, talented and successful women stumble upon this feeling of crisis in their life at some point. And the truth is it’s a sign of ambition, desire and courage to want more rather than being any kind of disappointment or failure.
If you’re facing a midlife or quarter-life crisis, or you just want to find more joy, alignment and fulfilment in your life and career, it might be time to consider the Joyful Aligned Life Program.
Click here to join the waitlist.