🔄 Transform Midlife Crisis into Midlife Reinvention
If you find yourself in midlife, you may be experiencing what is typically called a “midlife crisis.”
You might think, “My life isn’t over yet. But I can’t keep doing what I’m doing now. I’ve got to find something else to do.” You might find this idea scary and unsettling.
Why do you think you find it scary? For many people, it might have something to do with their identity.
You might’ve been a corporate executive, investment analyst, or teacher. If you have been doing that for the majority of your life, that has become your identity. You might not like the idea of losing your identity.
You hear people introduce themselves, “I am a retired teacher” or “I am a former firefighter.” Being yourself without any title or affiliation can be scary.
But if you change this midlife situation from “crisis” to “reinvention opportunity” you might find this period exciting.
🔁 3-Stage Life vs Multi-Stage Life
In their book, “The New Long Life: A Framework for Flourishing in a Changing World,” Andrew J. Scott and Lynda Gratton say that we are used to looking at life in 3 stages.
- ✅ In the first stage, schooling is your main focus.
- ✅ In the 2nd stage, you shift the focus to your career.
- ✅ Then for the last stage, you shift to retirement.
Scott and Gratton say that for humans to continue to flourish in our current society where people live much longer and technology advances rapidly, a fundamental shift in the way we look at life is required.
They say that instead of the traditional 3-stage linear career structure, we need to shift to a non-linear multi-stage one.
🔄 In the multi-stage career structure, you distribute what you traditionally do in one stage of life into multiple stages. Throughout your life, you go through cycles of exploring new possibilities, acquiring new skills, and working.
For example, you might take time off in mid-life to learn new skills. You don’t have to wait till your 60s to spend time on volunteer work, hobbies, or extensive travel. You might continue to work even after you pass the so-called “retirement” age using your newly acquired skills.
If you can make this multi-stage life work, your long life will become more fulfilling and sustainable.
🚀 Action, Mindset, and Habit for Multi-Stage Life
1️⃣ Action: Exploration & Learning
If you want to make the multi-stage life work for you, continue to reinvent yourself through exploration and learning throughout your life.
You might not have had many chances to explore various possibilities in your life, but this is your chance to explore.
We humans have always been curious. Our ancestors moved out of Africa to explore new lands. Curiosity has led to our modern world.
Have the determination and courage to take action to explore. As you explore, test your ideas about your own possible future paths like “driving a car at night.”
Instead of waiting until you figure out your path all the way to your destination, start driving. You will find new twists and turns you can explore as you drive.
Make sure you give yourself learning opportunities along the way. Your 4-years of college isn’t the only time you can learn new things. Life-long learning can help you with your multi-stage life. Intentionally carve out time to learn and acquire new skills.
2️⃣ Mindset: Long-Term Forward Thinking
Long-term forward thinking is crucial to make this multi-stage life possible.
🔗 Your actions are recursive
Scott and Gratton say that “your actions are recursive.” “What you do now is connected to and will influence your future.”
You are creating your future platform with the skills you are acquiring, the experiences you are gaining, and the network you are building now. The platform you are creating now will determine the scope of available options in the future.
📈 Compound effect
You probably know about the powerful investment concept of compounding interest on money.
If you invest $10,000 and your shares rise 10%, your investment becomes $11,000. If the shares appreciate another 10%, it will be $12,100 instead of $12,000.
Scott and Gratton say, “The magic of compounding is not just restricted to money. There are other forms of investments that could grow over time – investments in your skills, health, and relationships.”
Suppose you are in your mid-fifties. If you think you are going to work only till 60, you might think you don’t have much time to recoup the cost of investing in reskilling at your age. But if you expect to work in some form until 75 or even 80, you still have a lot of time for your reskill investment to compound.
🧠 Crystallized intelligence
As you age, you develop crystallized intelligence. This is the information, knowledge, wisdom, and strategies that you accumulate over time and this can work to your advantage as you age.
3️⃣ Habit: Create Buffers
It’s clear that having long-term forward thinking can work to your advantage in your long multi-stage life. But when resources such as money, health, or relationships are scarce, your long-term thinking gets hijacked.
When you have an urgent problem to fix, you have less brain capacity left to think about other things. Then you become vulnerable to abandoning your long-term forward thinking and making bad decisions that could be costly in the long run.
What can you do to avoid this situation?
🛡️ Make it a habit to create a pool of resources or buffers that can prevent you from making bad choices when resources are scarce.
- ✅ You can set up an automatic “rainy day fund.”
- ✅ Make it a habit to acquire new skills that might help you in the future.
- ✅ Exercise regularly to keep your fitness level.
- ✅ Cultivate good relationships with your partner.
These can all work as buffers when you need them.
🎯 Do this now
✅ Instead of thinking, “You’ve got to reinvent yourself,” think “You get to reinvent yourself.” Think of it as an opportunity rather than an obligation.
✅ Give yourself permission to be curious about things and explore new possibilities. Don’t have the attitude of “That’s not going to work,” “It’s too late,” or “Why bother?”
✅ There is no stupid idea. Explore what’s possible, learn new things, and keep growing to flourish throughout your long life.