In an article co-authored with the Israeli researcher Arie Ruttenberg for the Harvard Business Review last year, and another in the journal Psychoanalytic Psychology, Prof. Strenger posits that the mid-life years are the best time of life to flourish and grow.
Citing research based on empirical evidence and studies from the field, Prof. Strenger says that adult lives really do have second acts.
“Somehow this line has been drawn around the mid and late 40s as the time for a mid-life crisis in our society,” says Prof. Strenger. “But as people live longer and fuller lives, we have to cast aside that stereotype and start thinking in terms of ‘mid-life transition’ rather than ‘mid-life crisis.’” He dismisses the prevailing myth that reaching the years between the 40s and the early 60s means adapting to diminished expectations, both internally and from society.
Thirty-five years of learning
“If you make fruitful use of what you’ve discovered about yourself in the first half of your life,” Dr. Strenger argues, “the second half can be the most fulfilling.”
How can you transition smoothly through the best years of your life?
“First, and most important,” Prof. Strenger suggests, “invest some sincere thought in the fact that you have more high-quality adult years ahead of you than behind you. Realize what that means in planning for the future.”
Second, he says, think about what you’ve learned about yourself so far. Consider what you’ve found to be your strongest abilities and about the things that most please you, not what your parents or society expected of you when you were young.
Third, don’t be afraid of daunting obstacles in making new changes. “Once you realize how much time you have left in this world, you will find it is profoundly worth it to invest energy in changing in major ways. A new career choice is not an unreasonable move, for example,” Dr. Strenger advises. And you may now have a better chance of succeeding, because your choices will be based on knowledge and experience, rather than youthful blind ambition.
Finally, Prof. Strenger says it is absolutely necessary to make use of a support network. Individuals should discuss major life changes with their colleagues, friends and families. The people who know you best will best be able to support you in the new directions you want to take, he advises, and a professional therapist or counsellor can also be helpful.