You know the cliché. The one about the 50-year-old guy with the silver sideburns: he jumps into his red-hot convertible, throws an arm around his much-younger girlfriend and speeds off into the sunset leaving behind a life of mediocrity and the whispers of a “mid-life crisis”.
Or, there’s the one about the quarter-life crisis — a reference to the stressing metamorphosis from adolescent to adult and the startling responsibility that comes with it.
Truth is, a life crisis isn’t exclusive to those in their mid-20’s and 50’s. Anyone can experience an unsettling period of self-reflection punctuated by a longing to make greater changes in areas such as career, work-life balance, romance, money or physicality. At some point, you’re bound to ask yourself:
“What am I doing?”
“Why am I here?”
“Is this all there is?”
It might be triggered by a relationship breakdown, illness, job loss or death. By the sudden realisation that today looked just like yesterday and so will tomorrow. Or the fact you still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up.
It might feel like days, weeks or even years of nagging dissatisfaction, boredom, confusion, fear, loneliness, worthlessness, worry or unrealised potential.
But know this: however frightening it may be, a life crisis is an opportunity to finally free yourself from whatever it is that’s keeping you stuck. It’s a wake up call — the chance to alter your course. A catalyst for profound transformation.
There’s just a few things you need to do when you find yourself daydreaming about being somewhere else and doing something different, or shuddering at the thought of being in the same situation for the next month, year or decade.
Do some soul searching. Identify the areas of your life that are deeply-rooted in this sense of discontentment. Consider how you might remove or change them.
Above all else, answer the question Mary Oliver so eloquently presented us:
“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” And then, go do it.
Have you experienced a life crisis? How did you move past it? Share your tips with us in the comments below!