Simple steps to turn a midlife crisis into a positive

The middle life milestone is one usually celebrated with glee or gloom. Up to that point we have lived jam-packed years with many ‘firsts’ dotted along the line. Everything is exciting and the possibilities seem endless. We are in the ‘AM’ of our life and we are winning. Then it hits – the middle point – where we need to transition to the PM years, life’s afternoon.

In that precise moment of realisation, some of us will get stuck, bored of the sameness and living on autopilot, mourning the glory days and wishing things were back to the way they were. Others will embrace the change, ponder on the past to look ahead to the promise of a wonderful future.

Whatever your perspective may be, this mid-point we now refer to as a moment of crisis, really is a rite of passage and a chance to stop and reset.

I see the shift from the AM to the PM of life as a golden opportunity, a moment to celebrate fresh new hope. Getting old is a natural process, especially at a physical level, but feeling old is only dictated by our perception of age and whether or not we believe in the magic that still lies ahead.

Understand who you are now

The mid-years are a time of reflection, realisation and projection. We can look at the past to assimilate the lessons and let go of what doesn’t serve us anymore. It’s also a time when we shift our values; our priorities change as does our internal dialogue. We might not focus so much anymore on external factors and we start thinking more about what brings us joy, meaning, fulfilment, connection, wanting more in life for ourselves and the ones around us.

To grab this golden opportunity, you can start by asking yourself better questions to understand who you are right now and what you want to become.

How do you see yourself when you’re 80? And 90?

What does getting older mean to you?

What are your dreams?

What fulfils you?

What can you change right now to make way for a greater you?

What are your plans for the future?

And how will you get there?

Embrace an active lifestyle

Your mid-years are also a time when you can take charge of your lifestyle and physically change the course of your future. One of my mentors, Professor Stuart McGill, confessed one day that he was fitter at 78 years of age than when he was in his 50s. His secret? Being active at a pace that worked for him and making it a way of life, part of his lifestyle.

Movement is indeed the key to longevity and the stats show over and over that when you stay active for years to come, you can have a direct impact on your quality of life.

Injecting regular activity in your mid-years and making it your lifestyle is the best way to build the physicality, capacity and energy to go after your dreams. This doesn’t mean running marathons, lifting weights six times a week or going through a gruelling exercise regime (unless you want to and you can sustain it).

It’s more about finding ways of being active that make your heart sing, that align with who you are (your ‘athlete within’) and what ignites a spark. And it’s also about finding your rhythm, adding rest and recovery and going at your own pace. Gardening, horse riding, fishing, walking, swimming, singing, dancing, playing an instrument – doing what you love will help you be active and keep at it, making it a part of you,

A middle life crisis means living in reaction and short-term solutions, it’s the New Year’s approach where we set promising intentions just to crash and burn a few months later. When you believe in life’s golden opportunities, you’re responding to an internal drive, your desire to want and be more.

You will make changes in your lifestyle for the long term, redefining your PM years and the best version of you.

Life is a journey, we have choices. The present is your gift, and the middle years are your golden opportunity.

Did you hit a midlife crisis? At what age? How did you work your way through it? Help other YLC readers by sharing your journey in the comments section below.

Also read: Nine tiny midlife habits that will have a lasting impact on your health

Dr Brett Lillie, author of Rediscover Your Athlete Within, is a speaker, coach and rehab professional who helps people rekindle their love for movement and live their best life. To find out more about his programs, go to

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