Instead of thinking of midlife as a time of crisis, it can be a time of renewal and rejuvenation. It is the perfect time to figure out how to make our work and play more meaningful and enjoyable. When social security was started in 1935, the life expectancy for men was 60 years and for women was 64 years. If you made it to retirement, you could enjoy it for a few years at most. Currently, those of us who make it to 50 years old will likely live into our eighties and most of that time in good health.
Instead of retirement being a freedom from work, it can now be a freedom to work: and to work at jobs we enjoy. We can relish work that brings us meaning, that allows us to try out new skills, and to take paths we had always wanted to explore. The first chapter of life entails growth and education. The second chapter is a time for raising families, launching careers, building a home and establishing some financial security. The final chapter is one of reflection and decline, “retirement”. Most of us in our fifties and sixties are not ready for that final chapter. We still have so much to give in terms of knowledge, experience, energy and purpose in our third chapter.
This is the time to rethink work and what we want from it. This is a new stage of life, not an extension of the previous one. There is time to go back to school or learn new skills. There are more resources now to help explore the options and make this transition.
A life coach can work with you to figure out what you truly want and what will make you happy and fulfilled. She will help you figure out the right questions to ask. What is your financial situation and what will you really need to live long term? When do you want to bring what you are currently doing to a close and how do you do that with dignity and satisfaction? Will you need further education or updating of skills? Do you want to work full-time, part-time or have a flexible schedule? Can you volunteer to learn new skills or just for the enjoyment of it? How about a gap year? What is truly important for your daily life and relationships?
This can be an exciting time of pursuing work and activities in a more intentional and meaningful way. If you put some time and energy into exploring what you truly want and how you can succeed at getting it, this can be the best part of life yet.