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Having a Mid-Life Non-Crisis

Updated: Oct 31, 2019

Perhaps the most difficult obstacle to a new vision for life is that getting started has to take place in the middle of the mundane. Attitudes from within us and pressures from outside work against movement in any direction other than normal, everyday living.

What Must I Do?

Early on, some people called my move to the country a mid-life crisis. And since I thought of myself as a stable person, to do something irrational or irresponsible in my 40s was difficult to accept.

But I asked this question: Am I necessarily in crisis just because I moved out of town and am planning to become self-employed in order to pursue significant life goals?

When I pushed past my perceptions of what other people thought about my choices, the answer was: No, I’m not “just having a mid-life crisis.”

I was doing something meaningful.

Still, my being 45 years old made the timing suspicious. Fortunately, though, about 15 years earlier, I had learned something from our then-pastor that stayed with me.

At the time, he was in his early 40s and came to the leadership group of which I was a part to tell us what he’d been thinking he should do with the rest of his life. He had already accomplished much—started a specialized ministry, founded our church, and overseen its grow to more than 350 members.

Putting his middle-age station in perspective, he shared a simple but profound summary of how we grow to understand our purpose in life. He said:

· When you’re in your 20s, you find out what you can do.

· When you’re in your 30s, you find out what you want to do.

· When you’re in your 40s, you find out what you must do.

One of the reasons the 40s produce an urgency about our purpose is that it’s the point at which we begin to grasp the reality that life won’t go on forever.

Many people say they look forward to retirement in order to spend time with their grandkids. But with eight rapidly growing children, I wondered: What about my kids? Am I to miss their growing up, only spending late nights and a few weekend hours with them? Unless I were to make a change, that’s how it would turn out for me.

No One Has My Agenda in Mind

Then there’s the issue of waiting for someone else to help you make a life you want for yourself. Whether we realize it or not, most of us act as if we believe someone else will make it happen. But no one else will.

My wake-up call came when a corporate reorganization didn’t land me in the job I wanted—and perhaps even thought I was entitled to. That I didn’t get the job hurt not so much because it was a job I really wanted but because it was a job I didn’t not want. The position represented a natural progression in my professional growth.

This corporate sleight-of-hand caused me to consider a startling truth: Even if the position had been given to me, it wouldn’t have taken me closer to what I really want in life. In fact, it may have taken me further away.

The truth is, no corporate job would allow me to live the life I really wanted with my family.

So, to go down the path of my choosing meant taking steps away from normal.

The “crisis” was not a problem but an opportunity.

Your time for a “mid-life crisis” might be in your 20s—while you’re discovering all that you can do. Maybe in your 30s as a result of exploring what you want to do. Or in your 40s and beyond because you must do what matters.

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