You’ve no doubt heard of or had a “midlife crisis” – that period of chaos some go through roughly between the ages of 40 and 60. But, have you heard of (or are you in) the “later-life” crisis?
The “Later-Life” Crisis
In my four decades of coaching people in second half of life transitions, I’ve observed that as many as 1-in-3 older adults age 60+ experience a “new midlife crisis.” It’s not a delayed midlife version where they take stock of “Is this all there is?” Nor, is it just about retirement. It is a wakeup call on “time” itself – the reality that the clock is ticking and the time they have left is precious.
Carl Jung captured this mood well! “Your vision will become clear only when you look to your own heart. Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside awakes.” For those who awake, they manage to move through the crisis and enjoy increasing levels of fulfillment. But, for the third that merely dream, it often leads to dread and decline.
The “Good Life” in “Later-Life”
The aging of the world is happening fast. Americans 65 and older are now 16% of the population and will make up 21% by 2035. At that point, they will outnumber those under 18. It’s a huge shift that’s changing our economy, our social and cultural values, and even the way we perceive the “good life.” We haven’t yet embraced a society with increasing numbers of “new elders” able to flourish freely. We need to face the new realities of how individuals of any age can contribute and recognize that they are able to contribute in different ways at different ages and stages.
Since the dawn of civilization, philosophers have debated, “What is the good life?” Many books have been written (including my own) to address the question. Still the question is relevant and remains for each of us to answer to this present day.
Since we are each an “experiment of one”, we each aspire to live the good life in our own unique ways. So, the challenge of the “later-life crisis” is to define it on our own terms.
To some, it might mean power and wealth. To others, relationships and community. And, to others, it’s about service and humanitarian ideals. At the core, living the good life is about that which fulfills us in the time we have left.
The “Good Life” in later-life challenges us to seek authentic aliveness from the integration or sense of harmony among the various components of our life. It means, ultimately, living a life that sets us free on our own terms – a life that fulfills our time, not just fills our time. It means to live purposefully our whole life. One that makes us feel relevant.
Repacking for the “Good Life”
One formula for the “Good Life” that I’ve studied and written about (with my philosopher colleague, David Shapiro) is available as a free download in the REPACKING JOURNAL. In this Journal, you can work your way through “The Good Life Inventory” plus capture ideas for how to live the good life on your own terms.
The Inventory awakens us as Jung suggests to look both “outside” at dreams and “inside” to our own hearts. It helps you assess:
Place – where do you want to live?
People – who do you want to live with/around?
Work – what do you want to stop doing (unpack), keep doing (hang onto), start doing (repack)
Purpose – what do you want to do to feel relevant?
You can download the Repacking Journal here.
By Richard Leider (Visit Richard’s website here.)
Richard Leider, founder of Inventure – The Purpose Company, is the author of ten books, including three best sellers, which have sold over one million copies. Repacking Your Bags and The Power of Purpose are considered classics in the personal growth field. Richard’s PBS Special – The Power of Purpose – was viewed by millions of people across the U.S. His newest book, Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Old?: The Art of Aging on Purpose will be available in 2021.