This post is part of a Series.
Everyone jokes about midlife crisis until they get there. Me, however, I’ve not joked about it since my 30’s, where I experienced what I initially thought was a premature mid life crisis. As I learned then, we all go through an identity crisis, or transition between phases of adulthood, at pretty predictable intervals. Daniel Levinson’s somewhat academic work, based on years of his own research, The Seasons of a Man’s Life, was instrumental in helping me understand my turmoil around age 27. Here’s a quick outline of those stages:
- Early adult transition (17-22) – leave adolescence, make preliminary identity choices solidify
- Entering the adult world (22-28) – make initial choices in love, occupation, friendship, values, lifestyle – choose ‘entry life structure’ based on what you think will make you happy.
- Age 30 transition (28-33) – changes occur in life structure, either a moderate change or, more often, a severe and stressful crisis. Knowing yourself and the world better, you want to be more true to yourself instead of being motivated by the desires of society, your family, or other powerful external influences.
- Settling down (33-40) – establish a niche in society, progress on a timetable, in both family and career accomplishments;
- Mid-life transition (40-45) – life structure comes into question, usually a time of crisis in the meaning, direction, and value of each person’s life. neglected parts of the self (talents, desires, aspirations) seek expression.
- Entering middle adulthood (45-50) – choices must be made, a new life structure formed. person must commit to new tasks.
Yeah, so I’m now in Stage 6, and despite all of the work I did at 30 deciding on who I wanted to become, I still am really stressed about how LITTLE I’ve saved, and how little I’ve accomplished. I’ll vent that long list of midlife concerns in Part 2.