A Mid-Life crisis is a wake-up call – not an excuse to act like an irresponsible ass.
They are symptomatic of a bigger issue. If treated as an inevitable right of passage – you miss the point (and the learning). Instead, appreciate what a mid-life crisis is and how they come to be. Doing so allows you to deliberately manage them.
In a nutshell – a mid-life crisis results from years of unmet needs.
Let me explain. The pace and demands of life/career require difficult choices. Many choices actually cause you to compromises (or ignore) your core needs. There are many reasons you are willing to do so. Think back over the years – do any of these decisions or rationale sound familiar?
- I’ll “turn the other cheek” and ignore my needs for now.
- I’ll take the high road for the good of others.
- I’ll keep the safe & secure job because I have a family.
- I’ll let go of my music (or other passion) because the time isn’t right.
- I’ll avoid moving because it isn’t what’s best for my family.
- I’ll work two jobs to pay for my kids education.
- I’ll tolerate my idiot boss because it isn’t safe to change jobs.
The list goes on and on.
These are rationale and often logical decisions you make during your life/career. At the time, they made sense. In isolation, they may of been the right thing for you to do.
However, each major decision not aligned with your core needs takes a piece of your well-being.
Each compromise to your core needs take you one step farther from your center.
Again, any one or two unaligned decisions is not a deal breaker. However, once you start – you tend to keep going. It is an accumulative effect. Before you know it – you are far from who you want to be. You are living a life disconnected from your core needs.
You get to a point where you just say “screw it!” To compensate – you do something irrational or irresponsible as if to make up for lost time! Hence the overpriced red sports car, the ridiculously expensive vacation, the boat you don’t need or, in more extreme cases, the new spouse named either Bambi or Raoul!
The thing is – impulsive tendencies eventually get old. Instead of learning something about yourself – you waste good years, piss away good money and damage good relationships.
My advice – learn and manage your core needs.
If you stay abreast of your evolving needs and make the changes to align with them – there is no need for a mid-life crisis.
Instead – you are fulfilled. You grow and evolve in the categories core to your well-being and identity.
Let’s take a look at your list of Universal Needs:
- Security (e.g., safety, well-being, stability, peace)
- Significance (e.g., achievement, power, control, advancement)
- Connection (love, belonging, membership, collaboration)
- Freedom (independence, choice, mobility, autonomy)
- Fun (laughter, joy, pleasure, learning)
- Sustainability (legacy, dent-the-universe, make a difference, lasting impact)
Do the Work:
- Read and review the 6 universal needs.
- Think about what is important to you in your life today and rank order the six from #1 (most important) to #6 (least important).
- Consider a typical month in your life. Assign a percentage to your top 3 needs. In other words, what percent of your time is spent doing activities aligned with Need #1, Need #2 and Need #3 (note – it won’t add up to 100% – in fact, it could be a very low number).
- Conversely, assign a percentage to each of your bottom 3 needs using the same process as the previous step.
- If your bottom three have a higher percentage value than your top three – you are in midlife crisis territory! You are clearly behaving in a manner that is inconsistent with your core needs.
- If your top three have a notably higher percentage value than your bottom three – you are in alignment. Your daily/weekly activities match that which is important to you!
- Over the next several months – create a plan to increase the percent of time you spend in activities correlated to your top three needs.
Don’t wait until you “can’t take it” and go do something silly and short sighted.
Take time to identify and meet your core needs. Live a life of alignment and fulfillment. If you want to buy a red sports car – do it because you are high in Fun and Freedom – NOT because you are desperately searching for meaning!