A brand new look at middle age

66c4b0661d15d8078fa6a96390c0e644Whether you’re 18 or 81, I recommend you read this recent column by David Brooks.

In it, Brooks synthesizes and analyzes a new book by Barbara Bradley Hagerty titled, “Life Reimagined.”

Hagerty says the cliché known as midlife crisis simply isn’t true. Rather, she cites brand new research that shows midlife is, in fact, a time when we pause or shift gears. And, she writes, the shift, “…can be exhilarating, rather than terrifying.”

Many people in their 40’s and 50’s turn midlife into a rebirth. (That said, I know  quite a few friends and acquaintances who have given up trying to learn new things or challenging themselves in any new way at all).

Getting back to the subject at hand, Hagerty’s research shows that, for many, midlife seems to be a rebirth. She calls it the second phase of decision-making. “Your identity has been formed; you know who you are; you’ve built up your resources; and now you have the chance to take the big chances precisely because your foundation is already secure.”

I’d cite my climbing, comedy and willingness to write a blog that isn’t afraid to take the PR establishment to task as three personal examples of what Hagerty believes.

In his column, Brooks also quotes the theologian Karl Barth, who wrote: “At middle age, the sowing is behind; now is the time to reap. The run has been taken; now is the time to leap.” He added: “The middle-aged person can see death in the distance, but moves with a ‘measured haste’ to get big new things done while there is still time.”

Brooks noted that, with increased longevity, middle age has been redefined and what was once seen as the beginning of the end can, in fact, be the end of the beginning.

So, with all due respect to the Millennials who think they’re immortal and will remain forever young, the facts are quite the opposite.

But, rather than fear “getting old”, Millennials should, in fact, look forward to a time when they can look back at what they have and haven’t accomplished, and plot a whole new course for the second act. I know I did just that. And, it’s been beyond rewarding.

I’d go on, but I feel like going for a ride in my fire engine red BMW M3.



2 thoughts on “A brand new look at middle age

  1. That’s very kind of you to say, Ken. You’re a perfect example of what Brooks and Hagerty are observing. Instead of either continuing on the same path you’d been following for the first half of your life, you saw middle age as an opportunity to reinvent yourself. And, you’ve been very, very successful at doing just that.

  2. RepMan, when I saw the column, I thought you it was going to be about your living to age 122!

    Seriously, as you know, I re-assessed my life and my career at age 50. I became an entrepreneur, something I didn’t think I ever wanted when I was a PR agency manager and leader. I became a consultant and workshop trainer for PR/ Comm organizations, but the biggest change was becoming an executive coach.

    I’m enjoying my career–and my life–much more at age 58+ than at any other time in my life. While I can’t yet say I’m looking forward to 60, I no longer fear it, and I know that before September, 2017, I’ll be ready and revved up for what new wisdom and joy I’ll give and receive in that decade!

    And yes, you inspire me!