Speaking as a man and talking to many of our male clients, there is often a common story. We start out on a career, and things can seem easy to the point that you barely notice the opportunities as they whizz by. The world is at your feet. Picking the right opportunity, working hard, gaining promotion, or building a business, moving on up consumes us. Developing relationships, putting down roots, starting families, developing interests. Time stands still. And then it doesn’t. Like a stylus on bad vinyl, life jumps a track and you realise that you have more history than future and quite a bit of it. The opportunities have slowed down to a bare trickle. The future that was, is now behind you. You achieved. You failed. You succeeded. You lost. And if you were lucky, your life experience stacked more points in the plus column than the minus one.
And it is when we have these thoughts, we can go off the rails. The famous midlife crisis for men. We react often without thinking. But we should stop, pause and think.
A sudden need for introspection can be caused by any number of things. A bout of ill health, a relationship break-up, trouble at work, or a sudden life-changing encounter. Any of these can happen at any time and it is not unusual for several to happen simultaneously. They seem to feed off each other.
“Aging is inevitable, but getting "old" is entirely optional!”
― Lisa Levine
Remaining positive can be incredibly hard through this period. For people in mid-life, this can also be accompanied by physical changes. Dropping testosterone levels, loss of muscle mass and strength, changes to metabolism. We can then start to lose sleep and spiral into anxiety, loss of confidence, and depression. Many men have a similar story with their variations.
We all react differently to this transition. Life transitions are well documented, and we will talk about them in another blog. But this transition, where men engage in a fundamental examination of themselves, and ask what has been achieved, and what comes next, is one of the biggest we face.
Reacting rather than thinking means risks. We justify impetuosity at work and home. We look to recapture the 'me' of the past. If we are lucky we can end up looking a bit foolish. But sometimes the fallout of reacting rather than thinking of this can be quite destructive. The born-again-biker syndrome is a known killer of middle-aged men. But the move to recapture things we have lost, or fear losing can cost money, relationships and put a strain on your work. At the end of this transition, our lives can look quite a lot different, and if we don’t take care, not for the better.
Sadly, many of us go through this alone. We don't think about looking for help or sharing. Stoicism is 'man-ly' right? Can you show this “weakness“ to the people at work and home, who depend on you, by asking for help? But its not weakness to look for help. We ask for help all the time, building greenhouses, moving gear, with our finances and so on - so help for 'me' should be no different. Going it alone is hard.
So, what if I told you there was a better way? Yes? Life Coaching. Life Coaching offers people who need to gain a little perspective on their lives, a way to pause and take stock. As we enter midlife, we can all be guilty of thinking that’s it. Game over. Retire then die. One of the reasons that people get stuck midlife, is that traditionally we were not expected to live much past 65 and so the time from 55 to 65 was to enjoy the sun and run the clock down. Our social norms and standards, employment, business, and advisory processes do not reflect that for many people aged 50 they have another 25 years plus to plan for. And there is little or no support for people in this age bracket.
Your third quarter of your life needs to be thought about carefully. Everyone’s personal context is unique to them. Everyone has different views and ambitions. Life coaching helps you compile an inventory of things you have learned, liked, and achieved and use that as the base from which to plan another two decades of living that suits you. No, in all likelihood it won't be the same life as before. One of the things we all struggle with is learning to let go. Letting go of status, previous ambitions, knowledge, relationships. And taking active steps to learn new skills, develop new relationships, define new dreams.
A life coach will help you redefine your path, choose a direction and help you get started. I’m guessing that if you have read to this point this might be of interest to you. If so, contact us a call for a free chat. No obligation. Just help - if you want it.