Things I’m Doing: Having a Mid-Life Crisis or Growing Up?

What is a mid-life crisis? I just turned 40, and I’ve had friends turn 40, and I’ve seen them kinda flip out. “That’s crazy,” I thought. “That won’t happen to me,” I arrogantly told anyone who would listen. I made some bold and easy rationalizations like, “I woke up yesterday and was 39, woke up today and I’m 40, and nothing’s changed. I have a great life. It was great yesterday, it’ll be great tomorrow.”

So why can’t I stop dwelling on the things I haven’t accomplished in my first 40 years, and why am I only focusing on the things I haven’t done and the dreams I dreamed and never explored?

Maybe that’s what a mid-life crisis is. Sure, 40 is just a number, but there’s something about not being able to say you’re a “man in his late 30s” that kinda messes with your mind. For one day, I was 40. Now, I’m simply a guy “in my early 40s” and I’m starting to make check-lists of things I’d like to do in the next decade.

That should be inspiring, right?

Except, when you reach 40, and if you think you’ll be blessed enough to live until you’re 80, well …you are officially at your “mid life” point. 40 years in the books, and 40 to go.

So, you start to make some lists, like …

  • Start running again
  • Start swimming again
  • Get more sleep
  • Write the screenplay
  • Write that book of family stories
  • Write your blog
  • Dominate your job; revolutionize an industry
  • Raise great kids; spend more time with them
  • Never say “no” at work
  • Love your spouse
  • Learn to play piano, again
  • Read more books
  • Save for college
  • Save for retirement
  • etc

And then you get panicky. You start thinking …80 years old? Holy!!! I won’t be able to do ANYTHING on this list after I turn 65, let’s be real, so I only have 25 years. And why haven’t I done the things on the list these past 25 years? I’m a failure. I’ve done nothing and have flaws I cannot fix and I’m doomed.

Bam. Mid-life crisis. Baked at 350-degrees for 40 years and it’s ready for serving.

I said I wasn’t going to have a mid-life crisis, and I won’t. I’m going to call it a mid-life “awakening” because if there’s anything all my self-help books and books-on-tape and motivational Ted talks have taught me, you can fix anything by calling it something different.

It’s not entirely true, but it makes sense. I’m not having “crisis.” I’m having an overwhelming sense of motivation and a major moment of clarity and inspiration and focus …and it just feels like a panic attack at times.

So? Are you ready? I’m about to sprint through my next 20, 30, and 40 years and make sure when I get there, I won’t have an end-of-life crisis.

On your mark. Get set. GO!

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