Every one’s heard of the mid-life crisis. If you had a rough patch at all in your twenties, you undoubtedly know about the quarter-life crisis. But you never hear about the “middle child” of the crises, the third-life crisis. Since it’s not as broadly publicized, it will likely sneak up on you when you least suspect it (affiliate link – seriously, nothing even pulls up about it in Amazon).
When you think about it, the quarter-life crisis and mid-life crisis make sense: The quarter-life hits sometime in your twenties (this was a rough one for me). Maybe you just got out of college, maybe you never even finished college, or maybe you never went at all. Regardless, you are at a crossroads in life. You are still young, wanting to have fun and enjoy yourself, but the looming cloud of “what am I going to do with my life” is always hanging over you. Somehow, you figure it out and transition into becoming an adult.
Admittedly, I haven’t made it to my mid-life crisis yet so can’t speak from personal experience. What I do know about it is from movies, books, co-workers, and friends. It seems as if it starts when maybe people around you start passing away, causing you to question your own mortality.
Or perhaps you’re a recent empty-nester and you’re realizing you have to fill your time with something other than your kids, which forces you to analyze everything in your life that’s not your kids. And it might just be the need to shake free from the monotony that’s taken over your life.
Whatever it is, I’m hoping that by identifying the root cause of the third-life crisis, perhaps I can avoid the mid-life, or at least minimize it.
So you have your twenties and “What am I GOING to do with my life” (future). You have your forties-fifties and “What have I DONE with my life” (past). And surprise, now you have the third-life crisis in your thirties, and “What am I DOING with my life” (present).
I think the reason it sneaks up on people is because by now you are really living the prime of your life. I’m going to make some vast generalizations here, but for many once you reach your thirties you’ve got a lot figured out. You’re likely married, have great kids (and if not you have great pets, friends and family), and making your way up the corporate ladder (or at least have a decent job). So it should all be unicorns and glitter, right? WRONG!
The reality of being a grown up is sinking in, and you’re starting to think “is this really what I want to do with my life?” For me, this only pertains to my professional career… not my personal home life. It seems like restructuring and consolidating is the norm in the corporate world these days.
It really hit me when I was telling my brother-in-law that even though a looming merger had fallen through at work, now they were completely reorganizing the company and I’d have to reapply for my job, if my job even still existed, in a few months. He said “yep, sounds about right”.
So I go back to, “is this really what I want to do with my life?” I mean the stability is nice and all. And I’m all for having a 401K. But I literally spend more time at work than I do at home, and I’m swimming in a sea of 26,000 other employees. What kind of an impact can I really make on the world here?
Don’t get me wrong, I actually do really like my job, and the company I work for, and the people I work with, most of the time. And I actually do a really good job at my job, and get appropriate recognition for the most part, yada yada yada. But I work my A@$ off for someone else. If I was able to spend as much time on this blog as I do at work, I know I’d be able to start pulling in a real, full time salary.. certainly a lot more than what I made on it in January.
Enter the third-life struggle
Remember all the theoretical unicorns and glitter? Well those often can’t survive without a steady paycheck. So what do you do? You sit down, take a deep breath, and remind yourself of these 4 things:
1) LIFE IS SHORT
If you’re not happy in your job, change it. You may not be able to do anything about it overnight, but you can start figuring out what needs to be done now. If you want to make a living off your blog, find your site, get hosted (affiliate link–Bluehost is a great place to start), and start writing. If you want to start a brewery (you know who you are), do all the research necessary to make it happen, build a business plan, and try a crowd sourcing site to get the funding. Bottom line is, when you’re going through your mid-life crisis you’ll regret never trying.
2) LIFE IS GREAT
Even though there may be parts of it you’d like to change right now, sometimes you just need to step back and look at the big picture. Many of us are really lucky to have what we have. I had some serious issues with depression when I was younger, and what I finally realized was that there’s always something worth living for (that’s a story for another time). I’m now at a point where there is so much worth living for that I find it hard to accept when one aspect isn’t giving me absolute fulfillment.
3) YOU DESERVE IT
You have worked hard to get where you are. You contribute to the greatness of your family and consequently society. You are allowed the need to move on to something different if your current job (or whatever the cause of your third-life crisis) is holding back your potential.
4) NO REGRETS
In the end, if you don’t try it, you will never know what could have been. I am not a religious person, but I do believe everything happens for a reason. There’s nothing worse than the feeling of looking back and wishing you had tried something. And if you fail, oh well, move on to something else or go back to what you know. Truth is, if it’s not a little bit scary, it might not be worth your time.