Celebrating may be the last thing you’d expect someone to suggest when it comes to a midlife crisis. A celebration certainly wasn’t my first thought in dealing with my emotions about turning 50 next April. That’s exactly why it turned out to be just the right thing.
Yes, I just wrote the “E” word — emotions. A tricky topic to discuss, especially for men. Many men I know are more in touch with their feelings these days. However, this doesn’t mean that emotions are effortless to navigate. Especially when they relate to a midlife crisis.
Having a midlife crisis just isn’t cool. That’s when men can go off the deep end. They do all kinds of crazy things, like leaving their wives for women half their age. Corvette sales get a nice bump, as do jewelry stores as they peddle more gold chains. And, let’s not forget that this is when some of these middle-aged, beer-bellied dudes start sporting Speedos. Not a pretty picture.
My experience with touchy topics is that it helps to put them in the light of day. By doing that, you see them for what they are.
So, what exactly is a midlife crisis? It’s a time of transition and change. It’s when we, as men, get smacked between the eyeballs with life on life’s terms. We realize, sometimes quite suddenly, just how far we’ve come in our tenure here on planet earth. Often this realization is triggered by a significant event, such as the end of marriage, kids going off to college, or a change in career. In my case, it was becoming an empty nester earlier this year.
Did I leave my wife, buy some gold and a Speedo, and spring for a Corvette? No, I’m happy say.
Instead, when it comes to this milestone, I’ve chosen to accept life on life’s terms. I was told some years ago that, “acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.” In that light, my turning 50 no longer seems like a crisis, and instead it has become an opportunity.
Why? Because being young wasn’t always easy. In fact, at times, it was flat-out hard. Now, with lots of life tenure, I make better decisions and have broader and deeper skills. One of those is to solve problems with a process.
I’ve found four ideas that have helped me seize this opportunity. These ideas have changed my mindset on my so-called midlife crisis. It’s just another time of transition, one that I’m choosing to celebrate.
So, how am I celebrating this time of transition? Here those four ideas:
Idea #1: I’m owning it.
Owning something doesn’t mean I have to like it. It just means I accept it for what it is. I get to accept that I miss being a dad of younger kids. I accept that staying up late means 10:00PM on many nights. I choose to accept that I’m turning 50, and the emotions that come up about it. By owning it, I’m not fighting it. Which makes it easier and enjoyable.
Idea #2: I’m sharing it.
Sharing it didn’t start with this post. It began by sharing my feelings with my family and trusted friends. By sharing it, I’m processing emotions, working through them instead of letting them fester under the surface. These feelings, as a result, don’t the run the show. Instead of having to medicate them with a new flame or a hunk of gold hanging from my neck, they simply dissolve as I share them with people I trust.
Idea #3: I’m living it.
I didn’t buy a Corvette, but I did spring for a Mazda Miata convertible. It was time to dump the dad car, my Toyota Prius. With my emotions in check, I was able to make a practical choice that fit my values and needs. Because I’m accepting life on life’s terms and sharing it, I’m having fun without compromising my integrity.
Idea #4: I’m laughing about it.
When you call something a crisis, it’s hard to laugh about it. That’s the beauty of the first three ideas. They allowed me to honor my feelings, work through them, and come out the other side with my sense of humor intact. As a result, there’s a lot to laugh about. For example, when I shared with my son that I’d bought a Miata, he said, “Only you would get the cost-effective midlife crisis car.” Had I been living this as a crisis, I’d have been upset. Instead, this had me laughing for days.
One of my longtime friends, author Jay Perry, once told me that, “life is comedy, not a drama.” So true. This latest transition in my life is a great thing to celebrate. In fact, next April is also when McGraw-Hill releases my new book on a faster way to hire top talent. Even more to celebrate. You can bet I’ll be owning, sharing, living, and laughing about it every step of the way.