Mid Life Crisis – What’s the Meaning of Life?

A 47 year old exhausted man came to me as he felt he was at a crossroads in life. He wanted change without compromising his responsibilities to his family.

All his life he gave without limits.

All his life he was responsible.

All his life, from the age of 22 he had cared for his family.

All his life he shouldered the family business.

All his life he had no room for hobbies

All his life he never asked himself what would be important to him.

Now at 47, he felt depleted of energy. He questioned the ethics of his business that fed peoples’ nicotine addiction and adversely affected their health. He had reached a point where he wanted to put his energy into work that contributed to the world. He wanted more meaning and purpose in his working life.
So began the journey of looking at:

What gave him joy?

What gave him energy?

What environment would he like to work in?

Where would he like most to be?

When did he feel alive?

Signposts emerged. The outdoors, landscape, architecture, horticulture, agriculture, national parks, painting and so on. Colour began to flow into his cheeks as we discussed his dormant interests.

This was not the mid life- meaning of life crisis that involved buying a canary yellow sports car or running off with a younger woman. This 47 year old client still had responsibility to his two children at school. He was committed to providing and giving the best to his family.

We looked at ways to transition in a cost effective way that would not take away from his family’s needs. We explored the notion of bridging his way into a new future by keeping on the existing business. We brainstormed, delegating more tasks, freeing up time and exploring part time study option. Soon, the possibility of new horizons began to emerge. Like many parents with young families he was not in a position to pack up the day job. However, slowly but surely other energy giving avenues seem to open up. A new mid-life dawn had been realised and now it seemed possible to build in time for outdoor interests and artistic hobbies.

Slowly but surely part time studies seemed like a solution that would help him achieve new skills and confidence. Part time studies would be the catalyst to validate his life’s learning and a means to network his way a more meaningful future aligned to his values and interests.

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  • Jody March 3, 2014  

    The drive to change careers in your forties can come from many things. The fact that it comes from a deep yearning for a different life doesn’t make it any easier! In fact, it’s often necessary to fight the urge to shut it down because it’s a ‘selfish’ desire. It takes courage to want more out of life than just a paying the bills. Kudos to this man and to Dearbhla for helping him find his way!

    • dearbhla March 3, 2014  

      Jody, I aggree that it takes guts and courage to address your deepest calling in your 40s. Thanks, Dearbhla

  • Jacinta March 3, 2014  

    This is a great untold story of many who have.a longing laying dormant, afraid to be vocalised. It is in contact with a skilled listener like you Dearbhla that allows someone to.unearth a dream that was locked up and show how it can happy through a series of small steps.

  • Dermot March 5, 2014  

    I can identify with the story above. I think we can all suffer from burnout when we have been involved in a career for a long time ( 35 years in my case ! ) which can result in boredom from the monotomy of doing the same thing over a long period of years.
    It can be easy to feel trapped and unable to find a way out.
    But thank goodnes there are creative, caring and inspired people like Dearbhla in the world who have dedicated their lives to helping peopole identify new possibilities for themselves to restore their passion and give a new direction and meaning to their life.
    What a great gift.

    • dearbhla March 5, 2014  

      Dermot, yes it is so easy for us to feel trapped by repetition and routine. Burnout can often be a cry for new responses to an existing situation or a call to new horizons. Even the incorporation of a new hobby or mastering a new skill can give us renewed energies. The search for meaning and purpose in our careers is an important one. Thank for your honesty in this comment. Wish you well in finding creative responses in your current situation. Dearbhla