Mid-life is the central period of a person’s life and it can be stressful for many people as they come to feel discontented and restless as they struggle with aging, mortality, and holding onto a sense of purpose.
Does a mid-life crisis cause depression? Does depression cause a mid-life crisis? Or is the depression people experience during mid-life simply referred to as a mid-life crisis?
However it may be argued since “mid-life crisis” isn’t an official diagnosis, it’s a difficult concept for researchers to study. Researchers often disagree on what constitutes a mid-life crisis.
Much of the research depends on individuals’ answers to questions about whether they’ve experienced a mid-life crisis. Of course, what one person defines as a crisis may not be consistent with what another person considers to be a mid-life crisis.
The impact of a mid-life crisis touches every aspect of a person’s life. When we were young, we have learnt things easily and picked whatever came along our way and that is how we saw life and enjoyed our life. But after a period of time in our life, all we have lived our life in terms of beliefs we developed over in our childhood days seem to have hit the wall. It is like life’s way of saying that it’s time for us to change, to see what we believe, to see what the world is, and to adapt to the life’s new values.
Mid-life crisis even reflects in our career. For instance, in our career, at a certain stage, we confuse ourselves when we are not able to see the bright future despite working hard for many years and having long way from retirement.
Why do we feel a sense of loss about lives not lived or professions we won’t pursue? We do so, even when things go well, because the values realized by different choices are not the same. Worthwhile activities are worthwhile in different ways. As life goes on, possibilities fade, options are constrained, and past decisions forge limit upon us. Even if we underestimate how much we can still do, we cannot avoid the fact that every choice results in the exclusion of alternatives. It is often in mid-career that we acknowledge the lives we’ll never live and the pain of missing out. When we look back at our lives, we conjure—sometimes with relief but other times with regret—the roads not taken.
Researchers opine that the deepest source of malaise at mid-career was not regret about the past but a sense of futility in the present.
We live in details, not in abstractions. Against the nebulous fact that we might have had a more successful career, we can place the concrete ways in which our actual career is good.
At work we can focus either on the fixed activity or on the ongoing one—the project or the process. By adjusting our orientation to become less project-driven, we can defeat the sense of emptiness in the present, without changing what we do or how efficiently we do it.
To put it in a plain language, above all, we should remind ourselves that feeling we’ve missed out is the inevitable consequence of something good: the capacity to find worth in many walks of life.
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