7 Things to Know About the Midlife Crisis

  • Icon FR
  • Dutch flag

Everyone has heard the term ‘midlife crisis’, but what is it, what might it mean for you and what are the 7 things you should know about it?

The midlife crisis tends to occur at some point between ages 45 and 65 and can last around 3-10 years for men and 2-5 years for women. It may be caused by aging itself, or in combination with other changes, problems or regrets. This often stems from expectations people set for themselves. A survey by Editions Tissot states that 56% of employees view turning 40 as a decisive moment when they should be at the peak of success in their career.

The term ‘midlife crisis’ was coined in 1965 by Canadian psychologist Elliot Jacques. Although it sounds negative, the process doesn’t actually have to be this way at all and can push people to reassess their life and work out how to change for the better. Instead of ‘crisis’, the word ‘transition’ seems more appropriate.

Here are 7 important things to know about the midlife transition:

1. Change happens naturally.

That means you should embrace it and not oppose it. It can provoke a powerful transformation to let you grow as an individual and develop into the complete, fulfilled person you wish to be. Personality changes can alter your outlook both on life and your career. According to the survey by Editions Tissot, 77% of employees say that their relationship with work changed when they reached 40.

2. Midlife changes go beyond the mind.

Your body will be undergoing a period of physical transition, including hormonal shifts and changes in physical condition. To help the process, find new ways of nourishing your body, such as through food and sports. Focusing on exercise can contribute to the general wellbeing, and will continue to pay dividend later in life. Studies show that the people who are most aerobically fit in their 40s and 50s develop age-related conditions 5 to 15 years later than their peers who are less fit.

3. Midlife is your time to experiment.

Think about what really gives you satisfaction and gets you out of bed in the morning. Experiment with passions and talents and try new hobbies: take up hiking, exercise, or anything else that will make you feel good. A study from the University of Quebec in Montreal claims that pursuing a passion can give you an extra 8 hours of happiness a week.

Perhaps the job you currently have already is in the right field, but you feel that you lack flexibility and decision making power? If that's the case, it may be a good idea to explore other forms of employment, like becoming a freelancer. Take our quiz to find out whether you are ready to become your own boss. 

Are you ready to become your own boss?

4. It’s the ideal time to reconnect with your inner child.

Learn how to play again and choose private and professional activities based on whether they will bring you happiness and fulfilment. Let your imagination run wild through creative activities.

5. Simplifying your life brings joy.

Perhaps you’ve realised you want to spend more time with your kids instead of staying late in the office, or that you’re spending too much time in traffic getting to work. You are not alone – 33% of Belgian employees with children would like to have a job closer to home in order to spend more time with their family. Whatever it is, deep down you already know which aspects of your life you would like to simplify.

6. Relationships shift with time.

When we change, other people may stay the same or change in another direction. This can happen in both private and professional relationships, so just as we may grow apart from our spouse, the same may happen with our manager. Gallup research confirms that at least 75% of the reasons why people quit their job are influenced by their manager. 


7. Society does not make change easy.

Your family and friends are used to things being a certain way, so they may resist change. Change may also have an impact on your work. You need to find the best solution to suit everyone, but never short-change yourself in your quest for a better quality of life.

The midlife transition occurs in both mind and body. As we get older, we learn to prioritise quality rather than quantity of possessions and activities in our life. We can use this natural process to transform our life and find the fulfilment we desire and deserve.

If you think you could use outside help to initiate this professional change smoothly, take advantage of a career coach. Its purpose will be to support you during this process and to give you tailor-made advice. MyNextCompany is one of the only companies to offer this kind of free service, it would be a shame not to take advantage of it!

Book a coach 

Nicolas Christidis

Written by Nicolas Christidis

Nico is a true people leader and a talent whisperer. Has been in recruitment since before you could say “1999." After work, you will see him cheering for AS Saint-Étienne or on a tatami mat practising martial arts.