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Reflections at the End of My First Half-Century

As my 50th birthday quickly approaches, I've been drawn to the question, what is midlife?  Does it mean middle-age?  I certainly don't use it that way.  I recently read a survey that was taken of 50 to 59 year olds.  They were asked at what age does middle-age begin?  They were also asked at what age does old age begin?  The average answers: 48 years and 72 years, respectively.

When I use midlife, I'm usually referring to the time in life between your early 30s to around 70.  Who are the people in this age range?  Baby boomers make a good chunk of this group.  Those are the people born between 1946 and 1964 who as we speak are between 42 and 60.  Then there are the pre-baby boomers (the last half the previous generation (the Silent Generation) who are now 61 to 70) and the first half of the Gen Xers who are now about 31 to 41.

So what might this mean regarding midlife?

One common perspective can be to look at life as the four seasons of the year.  We are born and our infancy and childhood are during the spring ending with adolescence.  We enter adulthood at the beginning of the summer.  By Midsummer many of us have established ourselves, we are progressing in our careers, we have started families, we have developed and sharpened a great many tools that we use to succeed in life.  The autumn brings a new phase of our life.  This is a time that is sometimes referred to as middle-age.  We are often at the height of our careers, if we have children they are leaving the house, we are thinking about retirement, the meaning of life, our legacy.  While we have lived through a great many changes at every stage of our life, new and different changes are being experienced and many of the tools that we've used so successfully in the past are not getting us the same satisfying results as they once did. [See section, Ways of Being (Tools) that No Longer Work Well.] The final season in the year is winter.  It is in winter that the final chapters of life are written.

Of course, there are many other perspectives, including the ski enthusiast who spends most of the year anticipating and dreaming about the winter when she can be doing what she dreams most about.

And then there's the southern Florida perspective, THE season is late autumn, all of winter, and early spring.

Each of these perspectives gives a different approach to looking at our stage of life. Over the next few months, I will be examining freshly the question, "What is midlife?", and its opportunities and challenges.

Ways of Being (Tools) That No Longer Work Well (Now that I think about it, some may never have worked well!!)—A growing list.

Doing it all by myselfAvoiding asking for directions (a predominantly male tool)ProcrastinationComparing myself to others (favorably or unfavorably)

Send me an email with some of the ways of being (tools) that no longer work well for you. I'll add them to the list anonymously. This request is part of a new practice of mine to transform "doing it all by myself."

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Dan Tisch, M.S., CPCC, ACC,  is a certified life coach and principal of Midlife Crisis Coaching ( He specializes in helping clients: to get clear about what they want and best possible outcomes, to create a unique plan to get from where they are to where they want to be, and to develop practices that allow intentions to become reality.

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