As a coach for midlife professionals I regularly see clients between their mid-thirties and early fifties enter ‘the afternoon phase’ of life. The time when you become much more aware of your place in the world, and how you feel about your contribution. Some will have recognised the signs of a possible ‘midlife crisis’ brewing – the urge to buy a new completely impractical but totally enjoyable car is quite common! Others have more serious life events occur, such as a death in the family, redundancy or a health crisis. They find themselves at a crossroads asking ‘what’s it all about?’, ‘who am I?’, and ‘how do I want to spend the rest of my life?’
For me it happened at the relatively tender age of 33, when I was signed off sick from my corporate job suffering from stress.
As a middle manager, I felt utterly unsupported. Feeling pressured from above by budget squeezers, and from below by my team of go-getting and ever-so-keen-to-be-at-the-top-of-the-pile sales managers, I knew I didn’t belong there. My body began to react, which I duly ignored, and eventually developed into severe repetitive strain injury rendering me unable to feed myself let alone use a mouse and a keyboard. Let’s face it, I was lucky. It could have been a whole lot worse.
So, in the days, weeks and months that followed, I wondered what the heck I was going to do with my life. At the same time, my personal relationship collapsed. When I should have been heading to the top of my game, thinking about marriage and kids and all that stuff, I had nothing.
I moved in with a friend and there I began the afternoon of my life, for real. I worked my way through a pile of personal and spiritual development books. I explored the healing arts and meditation. I learned about NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), life coaching, kinesiology and acupuncture in a bid to find the thing that would set me free from my pain, and the corporate world.
I enlisted the help of many great teachers during this time; wonderful men and women who each in their own way shone a light on the nooks and crannies of my mind and helped me find what I was looking for.
A crisis, or awakening?
I soon realised that although this was a crisis, I could use my despair as the vehicle to finding fulfilment and a level of happiness I’d never known before. The good news about despair is that there is only one way to go, which is up. So, I chose to wake-up and do what would give meaning to my life.
Finding meaning is, at least in part, what makes us human and it’s a significant part of my discussion with clients who come to discuss career change at midlife.
Working with me has led them to achieve meaningful success. This is way more valuable to them than the other kind! Arianna Huffington , founder of The Huffington Post, recently spoke at the Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco. She redefined success beyond money and power . She asked
“Have you ever been to a funeral and heard someone say, ‘you know George was absolutely amazing, he increased market share by one third. Or Mary, did you know she made SPD by 35 and she never ate lunch away from her desk and her Power Points were incredible!’. These things we celebrate every day, but what are we giving our euologisers to work with?”
If you’re curious to see what others have achieved by working with me, check out my case studies and see if you recognise yourself in any of my clients’ stories.
Part two will be about connecting deeply, with oneself and with others. In the meantime if you’re curious about your own midlife crisis / awakening, and would like to see how I can help you, please contact me I’d be happy to hear from you.