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Why the Midlife Transition Is So Challenging

March '17

Yesterday, I recognized a familiar refrain as I listened to a new client describe her life, “All the things that identified me – wife, mother, and career – are changing and I’m left spinning around wondering which direction to go.”

She went on to tell me she’d been divorced a few years ago, that her daughter was away in college and that her son, a junior in high school, would be heading there soon. Finally, despite a successful 20-year career, she found herself no longer fulfilled at work.

Such dramatic shifts in roles raise serious questions about identity that can create a profound state of confusion. Perhaps a role is shifting in your own life. If, like my client, you’re no longer a wife after years of marriage, you might be asking,”Who am I now?” Or, if you’re no longer filling the role of Mom every day, you might also ask, “Who am I now?” Or, if you no longer find meaning in your daily job, you might ponder what a different career would say about you.

Career is especially central to identity here in the United States. After an initial handshake when you meet someone for the first time after she says, “Hello! Nice to meet you,” the next question you usually hear is “What do you do?”

Questions about your individuality are a big deal – think about it! If you’re picking your brain about who you are, where you belong, or where you want to go, you might indeed find yourself “spinning around.” Basic queries about selfhood present the true challenge of the midlife journey.

So where do you find guidance for navigating this turbulent passage? First you can turn inward and start listening to your astute inner voice. Many possibilities exist for helping you get in touch with her wisdom. One of them is journaling, which enables you to dip below your conscious mind and discover the insight that resides there. The effectiveness of journaling prompted me to create my journaling eCourse, Reinvent Your Life ~ Write Now. If you like, you can learn more about it here.http://bonnieleonard.com/nine-week-journaling-program-reinvent-your-life-write-now/

While wife, mother, and career are central roles that may alter at midlife, some other roles may also be adjusting in these middle years. For example, maybe you’re suddenly called upon to care for a parent who is ill, so you now assume the role of caretaker in addition to that of daughter. Or perhaps, your youngest heads off to first grade, so you wonder what you will do with the extra time when you’re at home alone.

So what specific role, or roles, are changing in your life? And what roles still consume your time every day? I’d love to hear about that experience.

Meanwhile, enjoy the journey!

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