I was reading an article about the danger of distractions and how, if you get distracted from a task, it can take an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task. This was an article about working productively, so more about the everyday work distractions (email/colleagues/facebook etc). But what if you find yourself distracted away from normal life in general, for more than a few minutes or hours or days. Let’s say hypothetically that you were all set to head toward some goal or other and then you find that you have been distracted by some unknown force and pulled off course for around a year with no sign of said goals being started, let alone achieved. What on earth do you do then? And what does this mean?
This is what I’m pondering at the moment. In a month I’ll be 51 – it seems I was only worrying about 50 a few days ago. Time is ticking away and I don’t feel any closer to being more productive, making a difference to the world, finding my purpose or in fact channelling my time toward any other worthy life enhancing groundbreaking direction.
When I hit 50 I was going to be someone, but it seems I’ve been a bit slow off the mark. Is my distraction a sign that I’ve been lazy, have lost my mojo, picked the wrong goals or just been derailed by life events? Or should I give up worrying, drop the life enhancement theme and just get on with normal life? I really need to find out so I’ve bought some more books – ‘What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life’ and ‘Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life’ – hopefully I’ll have read them before I’m 52.
I was browsing around the news stuff last week and an article entitled -‘Why so many of us experience a midlife crisis’ caught my eye. It was in the Harvard Business Review, (so a proper article) and discussed research that shows a midlife crisis can happen to anyone, even those in seemingly wonderful jobs. It’s a natural phenomenon! The decline starts in your early 30’s, bottoms out in your 40’s and mid 50’s and then it’s all good in your mid 50’s. The interpretation of this phenomenon seems to be about optimism vs reality. The young being so optimistic (ahh yes) and then as we age things don’t always go to plan and life basically gets us down, so many things we should have done or achieved. Then hurrah – our brain learns to feel less regret about missed chances and we come to terms with our lot and so our life satisfaction increases again from the mid 50’s onwards. Now of course this should not be taken as an excuse to sit it out until the mid 50 birthday (55?), counting down the days and wait for the optimist to reappear with a vengeance, but it is comforting to know that even the best of us face the same issues at midlife.
Another article in The Telegraph (probably a proper article) states that the age people hit their midlife crisis is getting younger, average age of 44 for women and 43 for men. To put that in context, David Cameron was 43 when he became prime minister, which would explain a lot and is further evidence that he was/is probably not good for the Country. But I digress (I’m easily distracted, see below) – this lowering of the age of ‘the crisis’ is apparently due to our modern society and the stresses and strains felt by people setting out on their career paths at a much younger age.
So a couple of silver linings – firstly that I’m old enough to experience this midlife crisis at 50 and not 44 and secondly I’m hoping this anticipated emergence of enthusiasm with life might put a stop to all this midlife pondering. That might be quite nice; it’s been a while since I’ve quietened the brain and just got on with things. I look forward to it.
PS – if you’re not sure if you’re in a midlife crisis check out this amusing list which includes:
- A sudden desire to play an instrument
- Hangovers that get worse and last more than a day
- Finding you are easily distracted
- Taking out a direct debit to a charity
Full list here –
My goodness, it’s nearly time to put the clocks forward, it’s officially Spring, how on earth did that happen so quickly? I’m sure I had lots of important goals and things to produce and do before we reached Spring. This time of year brings the promise of new beginnings and new stuff to do and alas has also set off another midlife panic of how quickly this year is going and what have I done? Then I go into a tizzy and do nothing, and then worry that I’m doing nothing.
I read that the menopause can make some women wake up in the night with anxiety attacks about life passing by – well seriously I have that all the time, not just at night. There is some comfort to being able to blame my hormones for my mood – which I can do apparently for the next 7 years – although I secretly think that this 7 year menopause is only the destiny of Daily Mail readers. But to be fair to hormones, I don’t think they are really the cause of my current midlife debates with myself.
A friend recently suggested I take a few days holiday from thinking, so I have and I’ve loved it, felt calmer and enjoyed just sitting in the garden daydreaming. Of course my week is almost up and I’m wondering if I wasted it, but that’s the little voice starting up again. It’s made me think more about the whole mindfulness movement and how I can quiet the voices and enjoy just being. I’m sure it’s possible – I use to feel guilty about not doing anything productive on long train journeys, but I’m over that now, so that’s a good start. Fortunately here are some experts who agree and reckon we should all stare out of windows more often. Read it here – The importance of staring out the window.
I did some CPD a couple of weeks ago and we were asked how we would spend our time if we had a year to live. You would have thought that question would have turned me into a complete wreck – a year to achieve goals I haven’t figured out yet? But actually I decided I just wanted to be outside more and chill out. Anyroadup – I’ve bought another book – Stephen Levine ‘A year to live’ a snappy title about how to live this year as if it was your last and living each day mindfully. I’m not sure it’s going to be a page turner, but I’ll give it a go and see if it helps stop the midlife panic for a while. I’ll let you know.