They say a midlife crisis is marked by looking backwards, instead of forwards; glorifying and yearning for the past. The clichés are the new car, hair coloring, and new woman. In addition, a midlife crisis can also feature empty nest syndrome and career dissatisfaction. The details and components of each person’s life can create seemingly endless possibilities.
Setting Goals as a Young Adult
In an earlier, I laid the foundation of what I believe to be at the heart of my midlife crisis. I referred to a mode of being that was suitable for the first portion of life, goal setting and achievement, and how this mode of existence no longer satisfies me. The constant seeking for something outward; a bigger home, a fancier car, career advancement, and more money and power. Upon achieving a goal, there was always something new to take its place with the nagging feeling that nothing was enough. I grew tired of it. But I have largely been uncertain how to proceed; stumbling around in the dark, hoping to find that glimpse of light that will lead me to a new mode of existence. At times, I have felt utterly lost. At my lowest, I have felt nihilistic; feeling that nothing matters.
Setting Goals at Midlife
I have contemplated and tried to abandon goals all together. However, the idea that goals and dissatisfaction are mutually exclusive seems flawed. Perhaps my perspective on goal setting needs to evolve from the outward and tangible objectives of degrees, jobs, wealth, and family to inward and less tangible goals for peace, stillness, and an open heart to love and accept myself and others.
That sounds wonderful to me, but I still feel disconnected from it at times; a yearning for outer achievements over inner growth; to accomplish the outwardly tangible that can add another ledger line to my resume; a desire to relive modes of being that worked in the past. There is a friction between the imprinted familiarity of my past and an inner calling to graduate to a new way of living and no longer be the hamster on the wheel, living by the memorized thoughts and emotions of the past.