Sean Swaby says Independence Day isn’t a date on the calendar. It’s an amazing, adventurous time of life.
Forget July 4th. Being midlife is the real Independence Day. I am almost 49 and I have experienced all of what we are told that midlife is supposed to be: mid-life crisis, mid-crisis life, half way there, less potent but still dangerous.
“Midlife: less potent but still dangerous”
Life Is a Series of Midlife Crises
Midlife can be a good time to have a crisis, about as good as any other time in your life. Life is a series of mid-life crises. Psychologists call these Developmental Stages, hoping a big name will make us feel like the process will be smooth. Midlife is about as smooth as adolescence and menopause.
Developmental crises feel like a panic at first, but when the panic subsides you just want to numb out. Most of us face a variety of mini-crises as we progress through our lives:
Being born; becoming independent; becoming a teenager; graduating high school; becoming independent; getting a job and (what the hell?) paying your own bills; going to university; trying to get those damned photos off of Facebook; finishing university; marriage; becoming dependent; buying a home; having kids; becoming independent; your kids discover your car; your kids eat into your budget; getting promoted and it’s nice; losing track of your dreams; your kids leave home; becoming dependent again; creating a side hustle to help get your dreams back; side hustle sidelines your health, your family, and maybe your soul; you cope by eating, drinking, working or avoiding.
If you are facing midlife, you can relax because this is your Independence Day.
We are told that midlife happens when you reach 50. Really? When your kids come home with a 50% on their test, or you find out that they only showed up to 50% of their classes, do you consider that a mid-school crisis?
What is this thing we call midlife? Midlife seems to be a collection of Middles: You are a Middle-Manager, you do Mid-point evaluations (not so fun), your forget what you were going to say mid-sentence and your middle begins to grow bigger.
Midlife is nothing more than a mid-point evaluation (MPE). At work we do these things all of the time, why not give yourself an MPE?
- Consider your overall performance
- Celebrate your successes
- Realize you are just getting to your half-way point (so don’t be so hard on yourself)
- Take time to write down a few comments
- Set your direction for the next part of your life
Independence Day: Less Potent but Still Dangerous
Midlife might feel like some things are slowing down, sagging or stopping at mid-point. So what? This just means that you and I are less potent, but still dangerous. In fact, we may be more dangerous than any other time in our lives.
One of the greatest stories of all time, the Hobbit, is a story about a quiet-loving man who unwittingly participates in a midlife adventure. If he was young and impulsive, he probably would have made a mess of things. Bilbo, discovered freedom by stepping out his door.
Are You Ready for Your Midlife Adventure?
Independence is not a date on the calendar. Being free means welcoming the crisis. Sounds backwards, right? We can get trapped by thinking that free = relaxed and at ease. Freedom is found through hard work and when you refuse to surrender, no matter how bad it feels. What is your Independence Day dream? Maybe it is financial freedom, emotional freedom or addiction freedom? That freedom will push you to your limits and make you question your sanity. And that is your personal Independence Day.
Take stock of all of your crises. You have already faced a lot of crises, this one is nothing new. Make a list of every lesson you have learned through your crises. Don’t like lists? Look through your photos and ask yourself the same question.
What excites you? The benefit of being a midlife quiet-loving man is that you have some life-experience to guide you. You may not be chasing 97 dreams anymore, because your memory can’t keep it all in! No worries: You only need one dream. That dream can be a raise-your family dream, a day-job dream, a side-hustle dream, a travel dream, a volunteer dream, or a reinvention dream.
Midlife Offers an Adventure
Find the one dream that rules them all.
You won’t find Independence in the driver’s seat. Sorry to say, but cars won’t fit into your soul. Buying a new car won’t give you independence and the satisfaction will wear off after a few payments. Your soul is nurtured by relationships, passions, creative pursuits, wonder and awe, nature and faith. Connection, not cars (or cup sizes), create true Independence.
It is time for a quiet-loving man to go on an adventure. Midlife is half-way-dead if we live risk-free. Adventure wakes you up. Where do you feel a sense of adventure? You have been preparing for it for a long time.
Read the Hobbit – Midlife will offer you and I an Unexpected Journey. The Hobbit is your guide, it’s also a lot of fun.
“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” —Gandalf
Keep it real.