I always thought that a midlife crisis was an interesting paradox. What on EARTH could create the circumstances of someone uprooting their entire life or completely changing everything they’d done or known up until then? And then I found myself smack dab in my own midlife crisis. And I realize now having gone through the bulk of my midlife crisis (hopefully!), that it has changed me in deeply and profoundly.
According to this article in the Harvard Business Review, “On average, life satisfaction is high when people are young, then starts to decline in the early 30s, bottoming out between the mid-40s and mid-50s before increasing again to levels as high as during young adulthood.”
The study goes on to suggest that time and patience may be at play when it comes to overall life satisfaction. For me, I wasn’t willing to wait around and see when things would get ‘better.” And my mid-career crisis wasn’t just limited to a dissatisfaction with my work. It was far more than that, encompassing mental, physical and emotional health issues, extreme burnout, and so much more.
Changing My Career
I spent the past ten years running a popular luxury guest ranch in California. We hosted many weddings and other celebrations. We had guest rooms, a vineyard and olive grove, winery, horse stables, wine tasting room, and restaurant! I worked on the weekends, at night, even when I was on vacation (which is pretty typical for the hospitality industry). I became my job and I didn’t have balance. I also peaked at my job and didn’t have any more good ideas. What used to exhilarate me just exhausted me. I stopped sleeping, medicated with alcohol and food, stopped working out. I was on a red-eye straight to experiencing burnout.
Until I quit it all and made my health THE priority in my life.
Through my own journey to recover my health, I found the Health Coach Institute and became a certified health and life coach. I founded Free to Be Wellness Coaching with the goal of giving back and preventing others from reaching complete burnout.
And yet, here I am. While I feel good, it’s also different. My journey isn’t set in stone where I accomplish a goal and then I’m done. It’s ever changing and evolving and I’m learning and growing through each step of the way. My mindset continues to adapt to these changes as well. While I loved what I did, my career choice was slowly killing me.
In fact, the moment that changed it all was when I experienced serious heart palpitations, and landed in the hospital thinking I was having a heart attack. Talk about a wake-up call. This plus a feeling of isolation from my family and my co-workers, intense mood swings, depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. I had always been a force of nature and never thought I would ever experience any of these ailments, much less all of them all at nearly the same time!
As I was sitting there contemplating the past several years and how in the world I had gotten here, I had the conscious thought: Am I going through a midlife crisis? Is this what it feels like to experience a midlife crisis?
I have had people suggest that I don’t call it a midlife crisis. The reason I do is that people understand that concept. Plus, if it’s midlife, then it’s time specific and won’t last forever. Finally, a crisis is uncomfortable (to say the least) and sparks change and motivation to get out of that crisis mode.
All I knew for sure is two things: 1) I wanted to be healthier in mind and body and 2) I wanted to feel challenged and entertained by the work that I did. I wanted to feel useful, powerful and intelligent again, something that I hadn’t felt for a long while.
Of course, I had no way of knowing that these two, seemingly separate thoughts would ultimately lead me to my current career path of health and life coaching, but when do we ever really know where our path will take us! As a Type A planner-type, I have to remind myself daily to just enjoy the ride!
Life After the Midlife Crisis Ends
Here’s some real talk. Waking up and realizing you are in the middle of your life can be unsettling and scary, especially if all of your goals, plans, “bucket list” haven’t been completed!. Add to that mental, physical and/or emotional health issues that you may be dealing with and you could find yourself under an avalanche of dread. If you’re like me, use these fears to push yourself into reclaiming your life, your health, and your balance.
I’m so much more attuned to my body that I understand the need to take a break, even from doing something that I love.
I’ve learned that I do have workaholic tendencies for sure, and I have to be mindful of how my body feels and what messages it’s sharing with me. I have these workaholic tendencies in every area of my life. It’s nearly impossible for me to do things “small.” This can apply to exercise, self-help, health, etc…
It’s important to acknowledge that if you have a Workaholic personality, it doesn’t have to be specific to work. This is why it’s important that people do the work to identify their self-sabotage tendencies. If they just change jobs or quit their job and don’t work on themselves, the same thing will happen again and again.
Lessons Learned from a Midlife Crisis
After decades of chronic plantar fasciitis from working on my feet, I developed a heel spur. This is perhaps the first significant injury I’ve experienced that’s laid me out and forced me to rest. I’ve been pushing myself very hard in my health and wellness goals and this injury have become both a metaphor and a tangible message that my body is saying, girl, take a break!
While I’m grateful that my injury is relatively mild, in the world of injuries, the part of me that goes all out wishes it was a “cooler” injury.
However, I have awareness now that The Hunter of even two years ago would likely have ignored this kind of information or injury. Or continued working through it, surviving on painkillers and vowing to take a break when I “had the time to.” But, now? Now, I listen. And I’m currently writing this blog with my feet propped up and plans to attend physical therapy to expedite my recovery.
Since I’ve become more attuned to my body I trust my self more, and what I really need to recover and get back on my feet again.
How are you recognizing and recovering from your crisis? Tell me about it below! Let’s support one another. And share this pin on Pinterest to help me spread the word about how crisis can actually help you break through.