What is a mid-life crisis? Do they really exist?

By Bob Morrell on October 8, 2019

As I approach a significant birthday I have started pondering this conundrum. Many people talk to me about their mid-life crisis. They take a number of forms, worrying about age (and trying to be and appear younger through different actions) worrying about success (and trying to over-compensate for past failures) worrying about health (and over-compensating for past, self-inflicted damage) and other variations on the same themes.

Over my life I have had many similar thoughts - but are they a crisis? Some say that these things are merely a cultural construct to somehow explain irrational behaviour. I remember once, I really wanted to buy a house in the sun. I meant, any house, no matter how low in price, purely to have a roof over my head if things didn't work out for me. A bolthole. It was entirely irrational and pointless, and thankfully, I took no action on it. However, I spent a lot of time contemplating and trying to work out how to do it. Maybe it was a cathartic way to distract me momentarily from the stresses of life? And so many other types of behaviour are explained this way too; emotional entanglements, over-spending, body art, solo trekking, extreme sports and adrenaline fixes. They are past-times that distract. Isn't that purely what they are - a brief distraction?

When talking to some of our clients in Coaching sessions, these distractions often appear and are labelled as a 'type' of mid-life crisis. Once, someone told me they 'had been waiting for something like this to happen...' and smiled wistfully.... are we all waiting for a moment or two of foolishness to somehow give our lives added meaning?

I know that a lack of fulfilment in life, whatever the reason, is one of the causes of someone searching for a new, exciting and less predictable set of circumstances. Re-assessing your goals and creating less stressful, but truly fulfilling outcomes through coaching sessions may divert you from making more extreme and usually regretful choices.