Today I want to talk about being a woman at mid-life. So gentlemen, if you’ll just excuse us until next time, we have some girl stuff to discuss.
Ladies, I’ll be honest with you. When I hit what I now call my mid-life crisis, I did not understand that it was normal. I could not figure out why I had such an overwhelming sense of dissatisfaction. I felt ungrateful, lazy, and most of all ALONE. I also felt guilty. What did I have to be ungrateful for? My kids are great. Except for some problems with grades they both are turning out to be wonderful, self-actualizing people. I had been divorced twice, true. One time was probably more my fault and one time was entirely his fault. Now I had a husband I had been with for over a decade. We had decided early on that if the marriage was going to work then each needed to know that the other had no intention of going anywhere, ever. That’s about as secure as you can get in that realm. The family income was adequate. We aren’t wealthy by any means, but we don’t have to pinch pennies very often. Finally, I had a job I hated. Ok, that much is true, but it did allow me the flexibility to do things with my kids and I didn’t have to carry it home with me at night. It was a trade off. Sounds pretty darn good doesn’t it? So why did I feel so awful?
Well, here’s the thing. I didn’t know this until I had been in therapy for several months, and started doing a little extra reading. Even for women – this is entirely normal! We tend to attribute the strange things men do at this age off to the “mid-life crisis.” No one ever talks about the mid-life crisis for women. Guess what? That’s. A. Thing.
Disclaimer: I’m not a professional researcher, so I’m not going to go throwing a bunch of numbers at you. If it really matters let me know and I will go dig up some official sources.
The point is that studies have shown that there is a place in adulthood where satisfaction with life drops to a low point. It happens between the ages of about 40 and 55. It occurs in both men and women, and in nearly every country studied. After that point, the rating of satisfaction for life starts to rise again. Totally normal. If you choose to wait it out until your particular graph starts to climb again, more power to you! You have more patience than I.
I chose to take control over my own graph, and to start the upward swing much sooner than it might have done otherwise. I found myself unemployed, facing an empty nest, and not sure what should come next. One option was to go back to the job that I hated. (I had that one before the one that made me unemployed.) Another option was to design my own future. That seemed like a much better plan. I started to get my family and friends on board. I also found out that I was absolutely terrified and had no idea how to go about making it happen.
There was a series of steps that I took to discover that coaching might be a great fit for me. First I had to decide what was non-negotiable. What HAD to be incorporated into this future I was designing, no matter where the income stream was going to come from? Then I needed to know what kinds of careers might be a good fit for my personality. The one that stood out was counselor or therapist. Starting my education over didn’t seem viable, so that was out. My education is in business and marketing. I started taking classes to update my marketing know-how, but it still felt – well – wrong. I started learning more and more about coaching. I read up on the difference between coaching and therapy. Therapy sets out with the goal of healing some kind of emotional trauma. Coaching is more forward looking. It is helping someone set goals and reach them. The two are very different, yet strangely similar. I thought back over my life and realized that the thing I have within me that no one else does is the ability to look at someone else’s question, analyze the variable answers, and help them choose the best course of action for them. I can do this even if I don’t like the answer that they choose. “Wow,” I thought to myself, “we may be on to something here.”
Then I ground to a halt. What do I need to do first? I had no idea! Finally, with the blessing of my family, I hired my own coach. She can read people like nobody’s business, and specializes in helping small business get off the ground. So now we are moving forward again. Every once in a while I have to stop and say, “Look at me! I’m doing it!”
You can do it too. Whatever it is. One little step at a time. Let’s see if we can push your graph higher, faster than it might go otherwise.
Next time: Adults with ADHD
Until then, take care of yourself. Really