And then, not expecting it, you become middle-aged…You achieve a wonderful freedom. It is a positive thing. —Doris Lessing
Maturity or middle age means different things to different people. But for most, reaching a mature age means developing a new set of expectations. At mid-life it's possible to view life from a new perspective. You have goals and aspirations yet to achieve, but you also realize you’re not getting younger. Maturity is a time for re-adjusting your focus, and getting your whole act together. If you do, you’ll remove the fear that comes with getting older, and open a new vista of freedom and opportunity for yourself.
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Living in a Changing Society
People in mid-life have always undergone physical changes, but in our modern society we must cope with social changes as well. In our brave ace of technology and mobility, adults have, willingly or not, been pioneers of social and technological change. As a mature adult today, you have a lot of life experience, including experience in making your own decisions and the heavy responsibility that comes with that. You may be a single parent, self-employed, or a successful professional: someone who is forward-thinking and up-to-date with the technology. You have made decisions all your life, so why would you have trouble now? Because decision-making is not easy for anyone, regardless of experience. In my work, one of the most frequent questions I am asked is “How can I trust that my decisions are good ones?”
Even educated and aware people often hesitate when making both long-term and short-term decisions, and many are very uncomfortable being decisive at all. Too much stress can lead to stress, burnout, heart attacks and other physical and emotional problems. With new technology and conveniences, life is lived at a faster pace than it was for previous generations and it is much more complex than it was for our grandparents, or even our parents.
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As a mature adult, you have an opportunity to re-think your priorities. If you have children, most likely they are growing up, and no longer need you as much as they did. You have been working long enough to feel settled and experienced in your career, and you probably can see, in your aging parents and relatives, that there will be a time when you won’t have the ability and opportunity you do now. If you are like the people I see in my practice, you are longing to express all the parts of yourself that have been neglected or ignored. Reaching maturity means asking: What is my life about? Is my career gratifying enough? How am I going to feel when I reach old age? Will I be satisfied with what I’ve done? These questions require a new kind of decision-making expertise.
You Can’t Predict the Future
If there’s one thing life has taught you, it’s that the future is impossible to predict. As you pass through each stage of life, your experiences continue to be new, and your roles and relationships keep changing. Life is in constant flux, and as soon as you feel you’ve mastered a role, a job or a relationship, something shifts, and you need to re-decide.