4 Questions to Ask Yourself as You Head Towards Midlife

confidence midlife mindset Apr 14, 2022
Someone journaling on the questions to ask as you head towards midlife, while enjoying a cup of coffee.

As we head towards midlife a question that can arise for ourselves is “what am I going to do with the rest of my life?” In this blog, I am going to talk about 4 questions you can ask that can help you discover the answer! Thought about in that way it can seem rather daunting. The questions I suggest can remove feelings of uncertainty and help you gain clarity as you enter this next stage of life.

Midlife is a time when we can experience an awakening, a new awareness – our 20’s and 30’s are frequently dominated by building a career, raising a family, setting up a home and while these carry on in our 40’s it is also often a time when we lift our heads for a minute and take a look around. With the emphasis on 40th birthdays – the big 4 0 – in our culture, it’s not surprising that hitting that milestone can have some negative connotations. Although we use it as a good excuse for a celebration with all the “jokes” it can bring up some feelings of fear or uncertainty.  Even a realisation that life isn’t what you expected it to be by now, you’re not where you expected to be or not feeling how you expected to feel. As you head towards midlife it can suddenly feel like time is rushing by.

This stage of life provides a good opportunity for a re-evaluation – it does not need to be a crisis. It’s good to take stock every now and then in our lives – am I doing what I want to do, being who I want to be, feeling how I want to feel? If we don’t evaluate, we can’t change things, we will just carry on drifting through life not considering whether it lights us up or is fulfilling us.

We can just go with the flow not really making any decisions and allowing life to happen by default.

But this won’t lead us to a life that is exciting and fulfilling.

So, what questions should we ask ourselves to help us in designing our life as we head towards midlife, so we don’t end up “on a road to nowhere” as the Talking Heads sang about.  Let’s create our own map! You can read more about this in my previous blog “Why Would You Have a Personal Vision?”

1. What does a fulfilling life look like to me?

Be specific. Saying we want to lead a fulfilling life is not enough.  What does that mean? The dictionary definition of fulfilling is “making someone happy through allowing their character or abilities to develop fully.” By creating a life that is fulfilling you will be doing that for yourself – allowing yourself to develop, to grow, to expand.  It’s different for all of us. It depends on what our values are, what brings us joy, what lights us up, what our life mission is.  By being specific we can start to draw up a plan to design that life for us. It doesn’t have to mean you want to have a global mission – whether your personal mission is to rule the world (!), grow vegetables, serve others, create a family home – whatever it is, is valid. It’s what brings meaning to your world – and this can change over time and at different stages of your life.

2. What are my needs?

Make a list of what you need in your life to make it fulfilling. This is about needs on a day-to-day basis and longer-term needs. This can include time for you, time with friends, adventure, work, fun – whatever is important to you. When you know and acknowledge what you need you can begin to think about how to bring more of your needs into your life.

3. What don’t you want?

If you are struggling to come up with what you want, ask yourself what you don’t want.  Sometimes we find it easier to define this. If you don’t want to live in the busyness of a large town or city, add it to your list. Maybe the thought of living somewhere quieter and rural would make you feel isolated or cut off – add that to your list. By knowing what you don’t want, what you do want can start to become clearer and decisions easier to make.

4. If there were no obstacles, no responsibilities what would I do?

I’m not suggesting we all run away and abandon everyone or everything we have a responsibility for/to – often our responsibilities are part of what fulfils our lives. But, if we didn’t have them would our values be the same, what would we be including in our lives that isn’t there at the moment. For example, having a family brings with it responsibility but also a great deal of meaning. Equally, it doesn’t mean you have to abandon all your own individual goals or dreams. We can still do things that make us feel how we want to feel, experiences that can fulfil our need for adventure say.  And as children grow older and start to leave home it’s a great time to assess what is now available that may not have been as easy having younger children.  Or another example, if you have been focussing on your career has that prevented you from having as many adventures as you would like – could you now find ways to build these in?

It's all about questioning in a positive way – not to bring in dissatisfaction but to open up options and opportunities. Questioning in a way that encourages you to find solutions to create a life you are excited to live. Not just letting life happen to you but created by you. Not just living to fulfil the expectations of others.

Knowing where you want to end up makes choosing the path to get there easier – even if you end up changing course or meandering along the way. As you head towards midlife, just ask yourself the questions:

  1. What does a fulfilling life look like to me?

  2. What are my needs?

  3. What don’t I want?

  4. If there were no obstacles, no responsibilities, what would I do?

and hopefully, they’ll help you gain some clarity.

Thank you for reading and if you know of anyone who may find this of interest please do share.

If you feel some support with discovering your vision and creating the life you desire would be helpful why not book a discovery call and see how we could work together.

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