A friend shared a TED talk by Chip Conley talking about an alternative to the midlife crisis. As a transition coach, I’m drawn to any content that speaks about mid-life transitions which I often refer to as halftime. Colin was forced to dig deeper into the so-called midlife crisis after he lost some friends to midlife suicide. That threw me off, midlife suicide. Did his pals die ? or did their aspirations and hopes jump off a cliff and perish? Whichever the case it sounds tragic.

I am in the last year of my forties. Now you all have leakage that next year will be a big number. If I were to label my 40s I would call them Furious Forties. I have grown a six-pack internally as far as the meaning of life, clarity on my gifting, and my assignment on earth are concerned. Ordering my internal world has taken some heavy weight-lifting mentally. I have gone through the hugest (is that a proper English word) metamorphosis in my life ever.

My 40s have been a life quake where my identity and existence have been shaken (and even replaced) to the core. The only other time this happened was when I was half my age. I had just graduated with my MBA and Kenya was in deeper doldrums than she is now, at least in my view. I left the country broke to search for a place in the world that would accept me. I was a wanderer until I ended up here back home. That round trip confirmed that my life is meant to unfold in this country and continent. I’m glad I followed my heart on this one.

Colin’s talk was reassuring because he confirmed that our 40s are the most tumultuous. At least for the vast majority except for a few like my halftime dad Mike Eldon who is still waiting for his crisis and he is almost 80. Mzee you are an outlier. Or did you have your own version of Life Quake in private hehe? According to Colin, we experience a long slow decline in life satisfaction from the age of about 22 to 50. And we are at our lowest between 45 and 50. That’s when many hit rock bottom and probably where midlife suicide is most likely to occur. Now I understand why my 40s have been so turbulent.

Some of us go through the turbulence in mute so we don’t get to see or hear their struggles. But sooner or later the life quake sells us out. Once it happens and depending on how major it is on life’s Richter scale the effects and outcomes are plain for all to see. And the damage here will be on those near and dear to us. Folks, it’s better to fungua roho (open up) and talk if you are going through a life quake. A coach would be a great help and I know a guy hehe….

I declare that my 50s will be labeled as Fortune Fifties and so I have a lot to look forward to. And the U curve of happiness has validated that. Many folks have been restless or disappointed about how things have turned out in their 40s. The U curve theory suggests our 40s is the unhappiest age and thereafter things begin to look up again.

But is the unhappiness we go through in our midlife a requirement for graduation into happier times? By the way, I liked that this U curve theory states that our happiness will continue rising till the end of our lives. That means how we maneuver our unhappy 40s will determine how happy and fulfilling the rest of our lives will be. It’s a matter of life and death. We either commit midlife suicide or endure weeping through the nights of our midlife and once that’s over we come out into a life that keeps giving and giving.

Midlife transitions are a make-or-break. The hardships we go through to find a life of meaning and significance are necessary. It is serious character development throughout most of our fourth decade so that we become fit and strong enough to handle the three or four decades of bounty that lie ahead.

Remember if success finds us before we are ripe for it it could end up destroying us. Talk of being set up to fail. I’m tempted to name some of our leaders who are in this position. They have been promoted to incompetence. The only way then to live life significantly and finish well is by going through this mid-life turbulence well. Hopefully, thereafter we will impact greatly by living our mission fully. Remember if your absence is not felt then your presence wasn’t necessary in the first place.

Let us live in a way that we will be missed folks. And one way is by swimming through the murky waters of our 40s towards the shore of purpose and significance. In light of this then growing old becomes something we look forward to. I like Colin’s view of shifting our focus from anti-aging products to pro-aging acceptance.  If a better life is in the second half of life then I’m looking forward to that. It’s cool to grow old after all hehe. It is also inevitable to age but maybe with today’s musings, we can make it aspirational by seeking and working to live the lives we desire and deserve.

My 40s tribe, hang in there. We are in the school of hard knocks and about to graduate. Better, much better lies ahead.



Share this post:

3 thoughts on “Midlife Suicide.”

  1. Mike Eldon says:

    hugest reminds me of trump’s bigly. keep off.
    and i think i’m due for my teenage rebelliousness any time now.
    nb my laptop’s rebelling against capitals today

  2. David says:

    Thank you Lucas for this post. You surely don’t disappoint. Two things you noted stand out for me, it’s better to fungua roho (open up) and talk if you are going through a life quake. ….and …how we maneuver our unhappy 40s will determine how happy and fulfilling the rest of our lives will be… Quite hilarious and sobering at the same time. Indeed the forties is a life-defining season and truly anchors us for the remaining bit of our earthly pilgrimage. Heading to mid-fifties I can attest it was worth it. Tough times don’t last but tough, resilient, individuals do.

  3. Lilian says:

    Thanks Lucas for the well written piece. I think I never realised going through my forties that it was midlife crises. Life was throwing balls at me every day, and I either had to catch the balls thrown or duck them. If one hit me, I picked myself up and continued with the game called life.
    Looking back those were tough years…but this year came my fortune fifty, and boy! it has been my best year so far. I have loved 2023 by virtue that my 50th year has brought with it bags of joy, fulfillment and peace in my life.
    I pray that the same and even in greater measure be your fortune as you turn 50….cheering you on my dear brother.
    Mob love.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *