40 is the best time to reassess your life and your work
By Craig Nathanson - The
The mid-life crisis occurs for a reason
Up until about 40, we spend our lives building, collecting,
acquiring. We do our best despite in some cases our upbringing,
society pressures and our economic conditions. Around 40, however,
life starts to take on new meaning. Usually this is a result
of some big change forced on from external sources or related
major challenge in our life. For some people it may be a divorce,
emotional or health issues, for others losing a job, gaining
a new relationship, or just an overall feeling of anxiety. Suddenly,
the feeling that your dreams are not achieved and some risks
are not taken urging you to take new steps.
Re-assessment is healthy
After nearly 18 years now of researching and observing the
phenomena of midlife especially how it relates to work, I can
tell you that most people skip one important step. That is—re-assessment!
After 40 is perfect time to assess what is working and what
is no longer working in your life. After
40, there is not much time for ego. It is a time for a little
humility and to step back from the pace of your life and examine
what really matters to you.
I joined my wife the other day for a yoga class, which she
is an expert at, and I am just learning. It occurs to me that
yoga is a perfect example for what we should do with our life
after 40. Inner inquiry and paying attention to what one yearns
for most is perfect exercise. Just like yoga teaches one to
slow down and pay attention to the inner you, so does the search
for an authentic life after 40. This is, of course, difficult
for many people because it means we might have to make a major
change in our life and this can cause fear.
Start with a re-assessment of your work
A re-assessment of your work after
40 is a good place to start. After all, this is where we
spend the majority of our time. Does your work bring you joy,
happiness, and a sense of coherence? That is, is it clear WHY
you are doing this work? If the answer is no, then you are the
one who must make the change. Don’t let excuses get in
the way like a disapproving spouse, a terrible economy, or anything
else you can create in your mind as an excuse to live a status
What happens after 40 if we do work which we don’t enjoy
First, our health suffers. Physically, we get sick more often.
Psychologically, we get more depressed. We take our job misery
out on others and, sadly, those people who are most important
to us. Instead, what you need is a big change—drastic
change – the kind of change which will rock the boat of
your world and force a new direction.
Our second half of life brings more wisdom
By this time in our lives, we know more, have experienced more
and should know ourselves better. Indeed, the second half of
life is a time for all those past dreams left behind to be picked
up and followed. Especially the ones rated the most crazy to
pursue by others. After all, why would you want to take advice
by someone who decided to live the status quo life? I run into
many of these people at the health club I belong. Their lives’
center around watching the stock market daily and deciding on
their emotional state based on whether their investments were
up or down. I wish the country placed more emphasis on individuals
and their well being rather the health of the financial markets
and we would probably see a much more healthy society.
Should I instead save for retirement and just work at my job,
which I don’t enjoy? NO! This is a strategy doomed to
fail. The solution is not to retire but to find new work which
is a vocation and will last the next 50 or so years! I hear
the same excuse from many people – I don’t care
about the rest of my life, I need something now. True but it’s
amazing how these short term decisions end up lasting 20 or
Become more comfortable with yourself
The best changes are those we decide to make based on our own
choices and not driven by external conditions. The second half
of life should not be the time to be secure or cautious butthe
time to identify exactly what would be perfect for you in your
life. This should include your work, your relationships and
your health. What do you want in your life, who do you want
in your life and what and who needs to be dropped. Investing
your money in the stock market gives you a chance it will either
go up or down. Not investing NOW in the most important time
of your life will guarantee you that the second half of life
will not be any different and will not correct any unhappiness
or angst you have right now.
The best times of your life are NOW if you choose
With deep thinking, new planning, and increasing your self-awareness,
the second half of your life can be a crusade and not a crisis.
Pick up and dust off those unrealized dreams and pursue them
now. Did you always want to become a teacher, a writer or travel
around the world? Now is the time. Forget about leaving a legacy-
Instead live your legacy now when you can still enjoy it. What
changes MUST you make in your life now? The more drastic the
better! Always remember there is a difference between decision
I am cheering for you as you make your big change!
Dr.Craig Nathanson is the author of Joyful work in midlife, the five stages. Dr. Nathanson is an educator, author, speaker and coach for mid-life adults.
Craig lives and works in Petaluma, California. His office
is located at P.O Box 2823, Petaluma Ca, 94953. You can reach
him at 707-774-6446 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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