The 40’s are no joke. Research has shown that women, men, and even apes experience a dreadful dip in happiness in their 40’s. Women in particular are their unhappiest at age 44. (Men at age 50).
This low comes at a time when most of us are balancing parenting, marriage, and the tippity-top of our careers. With this three-ring circus, it’s no wonder we’re also navigating that pesky mid-life tendency to question how the heck we landed where we are.
For women, the much-lampooned “mid life crisis” is not about a cherry red sports car or dating a hot 24-year-old. Mid-life can be a time of reflection about the choices that led you to this point in your life. Are you living your best life? Are you married to the right person or in the right job? Are you being the best parent you can be? And the very gloomy, is it all a sad downhill slide from here?
Psychologist Marcia Reynolds calls a mid-life crisis a ““restless craving to realize [your] potential.” But let’s be real: realizing your potential can be just a smidge difficult when you are working full-time and caring for kiddos.
Who has time to revamp or even tweak your life when you have to work all day, rush to basketball practice at 4:30, help with homework, and throw dinner on the table by 6?
For me, the last ten years have been a blur of marriage, babies, toddlers, preschool, elementary school, middle school, work, and major-league, next-level exhaustion. I feel like I’ve been shot through a long, airless tube at high speed and spit out into a grown-up’s life. This grown-up is (mostly) happily married, has a nice house and two (mostly) great kids, but yet she feels like something is missing.
For all the 40-somethings out there juggling all the things and feeling a tug toward some soul-searching, it’s okay to question your purpose. It’s okay to carve out some time for yourself to realign your life with joy and just feeling ALIVE. With that in mind, here are four ways to navigate through a big or small mid-life crisis and find a slice of peace again:
- Get quiet and listen to your gut
No doubt, life in your 40’s is one big hustle, but if you’re always rushing around, you’ll never have time to process what your gut is telling you. Get quiet and listen to the whispers in your head about what you want more of in your life.
It can be as simple as meditating for ten minutes a day or using your commute to work to think about what (or who) lights you up and brings you joy. And whatever that is, do more of that.
- Beware of “should”
Beware of always doing what you think you “should.” The shuddering “should” is often imposed on us by well-meaning friends and family members who may have little to no clue about what your reality is. Perhaps you have spent your whole life doing what you “should” do, and you have an unfulfilled, mediocre existence.
Mid-life is as good a time as any (or the best time) is to finally do what your heart is calling you to do.
- Set goals
If you’re feeling like you need to breathe some life back into your life, take a step-by-step approach. Set small monthly goals and use little pockets of time to accomplish those goals. Whether it be trying out a new yoga class, having coffee with an old friend, or just carving out some time each day for a hobby you enjoy, incremental changes can add up over time.
- Let your path evolve
Always stay open. You never know where life is going to take you. If you’re on a journey to make some changes in your life, you may not end up where you thought you would. Open your ears, your eyes, and your heart. Allow yourself to go where the current takes you.
If things get messy and hard, keep going. Being uncomfortable may be a sign that you are moving towards your highest potential. Lean in.
If you’re in your 40’s and “have it all,” you might find yourself feeling strangely depleted instead of accomplished. The good news is, that’s normal. If you’re experiencing that universal dip in happiness, it’s perfectly okay to write another chapter in your story.
You might find the next chapter is even more captivating than the last one.