12 Sep 2020
Ditch the idea that life follows a logical linear pattern of life stages. Dump the concept of a midlife crisis.
Life is unpredictable, filled with surges and stumbles, twists and turns. Sometimes we have a massive convergence of events (positive or negative) that disrupt the flow of our everyday lives.
The global impact and ramifications of Covid-19 caught many of us by surprise.
This, and other major life events, can happen to individuals at any time and in no particular order – in my case losing a loved one, getting married, getting divorced, embarking on a Big OE, enrolling in university as a mature student, becoming a step-parent - and that’s just part of the story.
People are living longer. 'Midlife’ has become a meaningless concept. Younger people view middle age as between 30 and 55, and older people view midlife as between 40 and 70.
Life-changing events (lifequakes) are upending our lives more often. We are forced to re-evaluate what matters most as we go through periods of upheaval, transition and renewal.
Because life is full of transitions, voluntary and involuntary, we need to get better at navigating through them. Making sense of our life stories helps with this process.
Bruce Feiler * collected life stories from 225 individuals of different ages and backgrounds in USA. From their stories he identified three key dimensions of a well-balanced life – agency (being in charge of your life); belonging (maintaining close relationships); and cause (finding a purpose beyond self).
Many individuals are a mix of all three, with some dimensions more prominent than others. We tend to shift and recalibrate these elements at different life stages.
Feiler also unearthed some useful techniques for managing change and transitions:
• Move from resistance to acceptance of change
• Develop rituals to provide stability
• Shed old mindsets to create space for change
• Get creative and try out new things
• Share your story and seek wisdom from others
• Take small steps to launch your new self
• Update your personal story to prepare for the future.
Pick a few that might work for you. An essential part of successful transitions is our ability to adapt and refresh our personal life stories during turbulent times.
My life story is a work in progress and I can’t wait to write the next chapter.
* Adapted from “Life is in the Transitions – Mastering Change at Any Age” – Bruce Feiler 2020