When you’re in you’re 20s it seems like everyone you know is getting married. In your 30s, they’re all raising kids and focusing on a career. In your 40s, the big trend is the midlife crisis.
It comes in many forms: a divorce, a new girlfriend/boyfriend (often that’s together with a divorce), a new career path, a Harley or a sports car. Like it or not, your midlife crisis is coming, and if you’re not prepared, you may do something you regret.
I’ve seen a pattern repeat itself in several friends who are going through their midlife crisis. First, we have questions and concerns about life.
Questions like these:
- “What’s the purpose of all this?”
- “Is this all there is? Commute, cubicle, commute, sleep, commute, cubicle, commute, sleep?”
- “What the hell are we doing anyway?”
Those questions generally start early, but we repress them. We repress them because we don’t like the answers. It is a lot easier just to get into your damn car and start your commute again then it is to face these questions. By the time you are in your 40s, you are so accustomed to pushing those questions onto the back-burner, that it’s practically second nature.
But, the problem is the questions never go away. They linger in the shadows. They are there, just below the surface, ready to take the stage.
Then You’re Triggered
By the time you are in your 40s, usually some ripple occurs in the Force. Maybe you lose your job. Maybe there’s a personal tragedy in your life, such as an accident or a death. Whatever the cause, you’ll be triggered. Those questions about life that you’ve been suppressing like some kind of medieval serf – they surface with a vengeance.
And now it’s time for your Midlife Crisis. Most people, for some odd reason, aren’t prepared. As if they couldn’t see it coming like a freight train. They react. They fight. They do rash, regretful things.
But what if you did something you didn’t regret? What if instead you meticulously plan your midlife crisis – the culmination of years of preparation and thought? What if it were something that was fulfilling, satisfying, and lasting?
Manufacture Your Own Midlife Crisis.
My approach to my midlife crisis has been consistent: Make It Happen! I’ve been planning and looking forward to it for years now. More specifically, I’ve been planning major lifestyle and career changes. I am about to escape the corporate world, and take a family gap year to South America. I couldn’t realistically do this without hustling, saving, and planning for years.
A Gap Year
What’s great about taking a Gap Year? For starters: there’s adventure, a change of scenery, and a bucket list of accomplishments. There’s the exhilaration of doing something you never thought you’d do, and the memories that last. You can have all of this for less than the cost of a sports car or a fancy exotic vacation. Plus, unlike those things, a gap year can permanently change your soul.
After all, a Gap Year is not a sabbatical. A sabbatical implies that you’ll be back to your old career in just a while. A gap year does not. A gap year is a bridge to your next life. Maybe you’ve already defined what that next life will look like, and maybe you haven’t. You get to choose. You see how this is a perfect situation for a midlife crisis?
If you have kids, then it’s even better. Your midlife crisis can benefit the whole family, rather than just you! I will spend my own gap year with my family of four in Bolivia, with trips to several other countries in South America.
Some folks choose a destination to fully experience, while others prefer slow travel for a whole year (it’s the only way to travel, imo). Whatever you choose, a gap year is an experience that will change you deeply. And isn’t that what we’re after? A midlife crisis requires change!
Unlike that Harley sitting in your neighbor’s driveway, you generally can’t take out a loan to go on a gap year. That’s a good thing – but it means you have to plan and prepare. We’ve been planning our gap year for several years. We have saved and invested an extraordinary amount of our income (about 50%).
We understand that the crap that most people fill their houses with doesn’t bring happiness. We made the choice to earn our freedom instead. While my friends’ lives are often rudderless, I am laser-focused on our goal.
When we first hatched the scheme, it seemed far off, obscure, and a bit crazy. But, as time has marched on, we continue to affirm that this is something we want to do, and slowly it doesn’t seem so crazy.
Continue saving, continue hustling, we’re going to South America. At this point, it’s something we have to do. As the goal gets closer and closer, it’s an inevitable leap of faith.
Change Is Inevitable
While I am no fortune teller, I can guarantee you that change is inevitable. Change is going to smack you like ton of bricks, if you aren’t prepared. Do you want to react regretfully, or do you want to determine your own path? Make that choice, and start planning your own midlife crisis today.