‘It’s all downhill from here,’ Kevin Spacy declares in American Beauty, epitome of the midlife crisis movie. When you’ve reached that point roughly halfway through your life when you look back at your accomplishments to date, you may not appreciate what you see. Whether you’re dissatisfied with your career choices, your personal circumstances, your health or appearance, life can suddenly seem shallow and meaningless.

Midlife crisis

How you approach this feeling of emptiness is up to you. Not everyone has a classic midlife crisis, complete with flashy sports car and much younger girlfriend to recapture a youth lost forever. Many people just soldier on, problems left unsolved, a growing disillusionment defeating their spirit.

But there is a more productive way to deal with your feelings of middle age. Rather than be consumed by them, why not take this life stage as an opportunity to make changes, rearrange your priorities and work towards a future that is in alignment with your values and sense of self?

If you’re serious about wanting to build a happier future, here are 5 steps to put in place that can really help.

  1. Value your downtime

Whatever your chosen profession, if it feels like you’re constantly running on a hamster wheel, and stress has become a normal part of your working day, it’s time to get off. This doesn’t necessarily mean throwing away a perfectly good career, but it does mean reassessing your priorities to include more time for you to simply enjoy life.

Make time for a weekend away with your wife, take the day off to just have fun, read a great book, learn a new skill or practise a sport or hobby. If you’re struggling for ideas, Into The Blue have a superb selection of activities and adventures to book online and enjoy at your leisure.

  1. Look after your health

Now is the time to take stock of your health. Be totally honest with yourself: Are you in good shape, both physically and mentally? You may want to consider asking your GP for advice or booking in for a midlife MOT health check to get clarity.

Diet, exercise and how you deal with stress all contribute hugely to our overall health and energy levels. Recognise that your body isn’t as forgiving as it perhaps once was and take good nutrition, regular exercise and self-care routines seriously.

  1. Make peace with your past

We are all a product of our own past, our upbringing and experiences that have shaped the person we are today. While this can be a source of strength to draw on, our personal history can also include trauma, bitterness and heartache.

Whether you’ve had a difficult childhood, experienced challenging relationships or life changing events, don’t get stuck there and don’t let them stop you from being whoever you want to be – life is too short! If you feel that something is holding you back, perhaps look at life coaching or find a good counsellor to help you deal with anything that’s unresolved, so you can move on with being yourself.

  1. Feed your soul

Much of life’s happiness comes from being able to truly express who you are. Have you ever wondered what is the essence of you? Rediscover the things you really love to do, then do them. Whether you’ve always wanted to run your own business, learn to play the piano, or make a contribution to the community – what are you waiting for?

If it helps, take a journey of discovery – this could be an actual trip to somewhere new and exciting, an educational journey to stretch the mind or spirit, or a physical journey to see how hard you can push your body. The important thing is that you will come back a changed person – happier, stronger and believing in yourself.

  1. Become a mentor

It may not seem like it to you, but your personal life experience is a rich resource from which others could benefit. Have you considered becoming a mentor and sharing the knowledge and wisdom you’ve acquired over the years?

Whether you choose to take on a training or mentoring role at work or do some charity work in your spare time, coach your local football club or become a Scouts leader, giving back to others can be enormously rewarding and fulfilling for all concerned. Even simple encouragement or just listening to those who may need help can make a huge difference.

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