I’ll bet many of you can relate to that freedom to change, to risk, to fail. And we all did it without blinking.
Isnt’ it so odd, that with so much experience under our belts, as we get to our late 40’s, early 50’s, and even well into our 60’s and 70’s, for some reason, the older we get, the more paralyzed we become. I know, for myself, life’s responsibilities (child, home, dog) take front and center and as a sole breadwinner, I have to measure in the risk. But why, when in our twenties, we are so able to change, do we start to hesitate, falter and fear change as we age? We seek job security in a world where job security is no longer viable. We avoid change to stay secure in our own nests. Why? Is there some biological factor at play? Some holdover from the early days of mankind, when as a race, our lifespan only stretched into our late 40’s or early 50’s? Is there a pre-wired instinct to get ready to die?
Hold on. There it is again. That fear factor. We have it in job search — as mature workers we are terrified that we won’t find meaningful employment. There are services in cyberspace dedicated to helping us find work, but even that concept brings us more fear (“I need a career management service to break down a door?”)
In this millenium, we can anticipate healthy, vibrant lives well into our 80’s and even 90’s. So at 40 and 50, we really are only at mid-life. That’s a whole lot of living yet. So where does the fear come from? What a relief it would be — to shed the nest, strike out for unknown territories and fearlessly reconquer the world. My recognition of my burning need for change started with my quest for a new car and realizing that the car of my dream did not fit into my current life needs. Did I still get a great car? Yes. Was it the car I would have purchased if I was free as a bird? Heck…no. But it underlined some major changes in my life that limited my personal freedoms. Do those constraints extend to all apsects of a mid-life?
You may have stayed in a job for a really long time and then left it. Do you remember the feeling of freedom when you made that choice? Even people who are downsized ultimately feel a great sense of relief and freedom to embrace personal change, even with an uncertain financial security.
What is the true emotion behind the “mid-life crisis”? An internal call of the wild? Maybe the mid-life crisis is mis-named. Maybe it is really just listening to ourselves for a minute or two and following our heart’s desire.