It’s Time for a New Midlife
Excerpt from Your Best Age is Now by Robi Ludwig, Psy.d
Although we’ve been conditioned to think it’s practically a four-letter word, the realities of women in midlife today are far different from what our mothers experienced. The truth is, women in their forties, fifties, and even sixties are living younger, vibrant lives. More important, instead of feeling that the best days of their lives are over, they can fill this unique time with promise and potential, even adventure.
Women in midlife are definitely not experiencing the universal malaise some would call a “midlife crisis.”
No matter where we are in checking off the goals of a life well lived, those of us in midlife are now at the age when we can use the wisdom we’ve secured to rebalance and reinvent: taking stock of what we have accomplished and continuing to dream big about what’s in store. Our future is really looking good. So why are we still beating ourselves up, living with anxiety, and, overall, feeling so bad?
During midlife, many women begin to feel negatively defined by society, through external forces like work, dating sites, or the media—over all of which the typical woman has little control. Midlife is a time in our lives when we begin to rethink the life choices we’ve made, evaluate our impact on others, and decide what we want to do with the rest of our life’s journey. These thoughts often surface because, for many of us, this is the first time we contemplate or confront our own mortality. By this time we’ve come to understand the finalities of life, and all the anxieties that creep up can collide with our internal timeline.
This anxiety is often based on fear—the fear that as we age we won’t be relevant in a world geared toward young people; the fear that we won’t have options; or the fear that it’s simply too late for us to have the life we’ve always dreamed of.
Many women in midlife worry they will get stuck in one place, or worse, their negative personality traits, which cause them emotional pain, will be impossible to change. This fear is based on the prevailing wisdom that people don’t change. But the most current research finds that even fixed personality traits can evolve over time.
Understanding that we can continue to grow and change throughout our life span positively impacts how we experience ourselves now and in the future. Knowing that we still have time to transform ourselves, we feel more confident exploring the ways in which we can improve. It’s not too late for us to become a better, more polished version of ourselves.
The mistake we make is assuming who we were at twenty is who we have to be at forty or fifty or sixty. Yet, in reality, we’ve already changed. The wisdom you’ve gleaned just from being alive has made you a different person. Your environment and your experiences have influenced your priorities, what you want for yourself, and what you want for your future. And this is good news, because if you are unhappy with the woman you are now, you really can change. For example, if you are a woman who doesn’t consider herself good with finances, you can work toward being a self-improved, fiscally savvy version of yourself.
However important change is, it often comes slowly. You’ve already developed habits based on what works for you. Some of these are really good habits because they can speed things up and make life easier. You may be attached to working out Monday mornings and can’t imagine giving up this habit. Working out Monday mornings is a good habit to keep. But if you are too inflexible in general, it’s going to be hard to get through life in a successful way, regardless of what life phase you’re in. Yet the changes you implement can lead to a better life. You have an opportunity to give up the limitations you see as fixed parts of your life and become the person you were always meant to be. In fact, this is the perfect time to change and start feeling youthful, healthy, relevant, sexy, wanted, and unstoppable!
From YOUR BEST AGE IS NOW: Embrace an Ageless Mindset, Reenergize Your Dreams, and Live a Soul-Satisfying Life by Robi Ludwig, Psy.D. Copyright ©2016 by Robi Ludwig, Psy.D., published by HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.