Listen to this Blog be discussed live on the next Your Family Matters radio show on April 10th @ 9am PST . WsRadio.com. Show are also archived at that site
Considering that during the lifespan developmental transitions are inevitable, Midlife is no exception. In fact, Midlife introduces perhaps the biggest questions as to whether or not an individual has spent the first half of their lives fulfilled or not. Whereas the Adolescent transition is about weaning away from childhood fantasies and greater strives towards becoming an independent adult, Midlife is the second stage of Adult development. In early adult development, the quests have to do with financial, relational, and solidifying a secure lifestyle, Midlife is about facing the idea that life is half over. This significant difference of so-called tasks of “success “ becomes a major focus in the mind of the middle adult consciously and unconsciously along with retirement and death.
As the body and mind age, a sense of vulnerability begins to set in. Physical maturation and aging ; financial stability; interpersonal happiness; and an overview of whether or not the person has a sense of both fulfillment and enjoyment fills the mind of that middle adult. “Am I where I want to be at this stage of my life” ; “Do I feel fulfilled”.
Depending upon the particular individual, the outcome can go in a variety of directions. For some, they feel content and fulfilled and the transition to middle life is accepted and enjoyed. Within this group, the areas of finance, personal happiness, interpersonal relationships, and an acceptance of aging are met in stride and the individual continues to live their life without much change other than an acceptance of some things they cannot control such as an aging body and mind. Here, there is a preservation of their current lifestyle and some logical planning for the future, such as retirement, and a general sense of perhaps slowing down a little.
For others in entering midlife, the experience might be much different. For those who do not feel content with their life review up to this point can lead to one of two roads : eliciting active change in order to improve their well-being mentally and or physically, or in the extreme sense they go into a crisis. The midlife crisis group are the ones who struggle with either accepting the inevitable changes in midlife or who do not feel as if they can make the necessary changes to improve their present state of affairs and plan for some changes to make their lives better and perhaps the best they have ever been. Here is where haphazard actions can manifest often leading to greater conflicts and sometimes failure.
On the other hand, when a person in Midlife can logically consider their life review, they can plan some changes which could enhance their life, not complicate it. For example, in midlife when a person is not feeling financially stable or even happy with their current means of income, this might be the adaptive time to transition into some new profession or way to manage their monies. If their health is not where it should be, this could be the time to take better care of their bodies. If they do not have any friends, this could be the time to meet new people – join a club, learn a sport, or make more of an effort to reach out to people.
Changes have to do with choice and motivation once a person has determined what those changes need to be. However, by midlife, life habits have become incorporated in the person’s character or personality making transitions very difficult due to potential fears of the unknown. This is where careful planning, discussing changes with trusted friends, and taking very active steps while managing the discomfort of change becomes the quest. Keeping in mind that the outcome is designed to improve, not reduce stress and life enjoyment should be the catalyst propelling the individual to take some action to make the second half of their life better than the first.
The final stage of life is Late Adulthood. Here, the tasks are to review one’s life with pleasure, not regret, and to have a family of friends and loved ones helping to commemorate the full life that a person has lived. Dying happy and filled with love , accomplishment, and not afraid is perhaps the ultimate goal. To get there however, the Midlife individual needs to be logical, realistic, and make a plan that they dedicate themselves to follow through with realizing that with all change come challenges and managing some feelings of anxiety which are normal whenever a person makes a significant change of direction. The outcome however is worth it and lowering stress and improving the quality of one’s life has proved to extend life, not shorten it.