The Good Life After 40–Mastering Mid-Life Transitions

As we grow older and pass from youth into the dreaded “middle age”, a most difficult challenge is to accept and master inevitable changes which occur in life’s second half. Once we reach 40, then 50, most of us begin to view the world from an entirely different perspective.

Do you intend to accept yourself  unconditionally and thrive in your middle years? Would you rather expend energy mourning the passing of youth, routinely fearing tomorrow and dreading old age? I thought not!

Over the next several blogs, we will offer brief suggestions for mastering common midlife transitions. Here are the first two:

Career Plateau. Let’s assume you recently learned, formally or or via the grapevine, that   no further promotions will come your way. You relish your present career and really don’t want to start over somewhere else. You’d like to tell your boss where to go but you can’t afford to quit right now and you aren’t yet eligible for a decent retirement.

You have always dreamed of climbing to the very top; how do you accept the sobering prospect of five, ten or fifteen more years in a dead-end job? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Volunteer for enriching professional association, church related or community service assignments. While you continue to give your employer a full day’s work for a full day’s pay, why not re-channel your energy and enthusiasm elsewhere?
  •  Contribute as a team player. The pressure for advancement is off so you no longer need to play office politics. Bury your resentment, ignore the B/S and challenge each workday with purpose.
  • Take the initiative to enhance your present position. Propose additional responsibilities where you are comfortable and where you can expect to excel.
  • Remain flexible, routinely open to change and ready to accept new challenges. In this era of perpetual motion, who knows what future opportunities might surface?
  • Dedicate evenings and weekends to defining, visualizing and planning out life’s next stage. You just might discover a pathway to early retirement or a new, more rewarding career or employer.
  • Devote time and energy to encouraging and promoting career and well-being of spouse and offspring. Share in the joy and satisfaction of their success.

Retirement. If not now, in a few years all of us will face retirement from our primary vocation, perhaps the most critical challenge. How can we move gracefully, without regret, from “middle age” to “maturity” or “senior citizen” status? Studies demonstrate that many retirees quickly become bored, frustrated and bitter because they have failed to plan adequately for life’s next phase. Don’t let this happen to you!

So long as both you and your spouse (if you have one) remain healthy, active, involved and young at heart, retirement may prove to be the most rewarding interval of your entire adult lives. You have earned a permanent respite from the mundane, often stressful, challenges of raising a family and earning a living, including that awful daily commute to and from the plant or office. Here are a few common-sense ingredients which can contribute to a long, purposeful and joyful retirement:

  • Upon retirement, promise yourself that you will continue to think and behave like a person who genuinely cares and can make a positive difference. Every morning, pledge yourself to perform at least one act of kindness or undertake at least one project which will lighten the load for another. 
  • At long last, you will have the opportunity to dedicate time and energy to hobbies and avocations you have always admired. So precisely what would you would you most like to do to have fun with the rest of your life?
  • In retirement, volunteer only for activities which you cherish and where you can excel. If you love to get out, drive around town and meet people, volunteer for “Meals on Wheels.” If you enjoy building, volunteer for “Habitat for Humanity.” If you hate to cook, don’t volunteer for church suppers.
  • Remain in contact with young adults and young children–they’ll keep you inspired. If you don’t have grand kids, you might teach Sunday School or coach Little League. If you do have grand kids, spend ample time with and around them and watch them grow, so long as you don’t become bogged down as “full-time baby sitter.”

I will address additional midlife transition challenges in my next blog. To obtain additional guidance right now, go to our website and request our free Middle Age Renewal Training Mini Course. Also, preview my comprehensive self-help guidebook to midlife renewal: A Mid-Life Challenge WAKE UP! 


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