I was very disappointed in myself that I couldn’t find the time to write which was used for other things that took priority. This made me question my own expectations of myself which were unrealistic but also ‘what was taking my time up and why?’
My work commitments remain the same but my commitment and time for matters outside of ‘work’ (that generates an income) seem to have mushroomed.
I got to thinking that sometimes life can be like a bowl of spaghetti – all messy and tangled up. And why does this stage of my life seem more complicated and more about ‘me’ and ‘who I am’ and ‘what I am’?
In trying to untangle and make sense of the ‘why’ and find some meaning, I investigated some possible explanations of the things that may happen in midlife:
Striving for individuation
According to Jung (1971), the goals of the first half of life (age 35 to 40) is to make one’s way in the world and to become a specialist (for example in family, business, profession). In the second half of life, the goal is individuation – the process of becoming inwardly whole, discovering one’s true self, living a life aligned to one’s authentic self where your actions speak your purpose and your values mesh with your lifestyle
Gaining affirmation in society
The age of 40 marks the onset of the midlife transition following a period of questioning and exploration around work advancement, gaining affirmation in society, independence and seniority during the “becoming one’s own man” phase (Levinson et al 1987)
Increasing sense of self
Kolb (1984) categorises human development into three areas: acquisition, specialisation and integration. The middle era of specialisation is concerned with security and achievement and recognises this conflict with personal fulfilment. The transition into the third era is about bringing this conflict into the open – a process that can be gradual or sudden. This results in a shift in the frame of reference that is used to experience and appraise one’s life. With an increasing sense of self, there is a sense of integration and wholeness.
Caring for others
Middle adulthood (35-65 years) is defined as a period of generativity versus stagnation. The former is the ability to look outside oneself and care for others (parenthood, in community and societal involvement), leaving a legacy to the next generation. Inability to accomplish generativity leads to self-absorption and stagnation ensues (Erikson 1980)
I can see some of the above in my own path which has shed some light and understanding on the possible meaning behind the ‘why.’
For the cynics, who may question, ‘Does this make a difference? Will it alter anything?’ Perhaps not but it is learning and adding to one’s worldview and perspective.
Our lives have many facets, all of which are intertwined and connected and sometimes can seem like a tangled mess – like a bowl of spaghetti!
Are you in midlife? How has your life changed? Does any of the above resonate with you? What would you add?
Read more at:
Erikson, E.H. (1980). Identity and the life cycle: A reissue. New York: Norton
Jung, C.G. (1971) Stages of Life. In J. Campbell (Ed.) The portable Jung. New York: Penguin Books
Kolb, D. (1984) Experiential learning: experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, N J: Prentice Hall
Levinson, D.J., Darrow, D.N., Klein, E.B., Levinson, M.H., and McKee, B. (1978) The seasons of a man’s life. New York: AA Knopf
I’m a professional coach (MA in Coaching & Mentoring) helping you to progress, make successful changes, be a more effective leader and communicator, improve your performance and team working. I work with women who are advancing their careers and businesses, women who have left employment to build profitable businesses AND develop teams and people within organisations through coaching, mentoring and leadership development programmes.