One of the things we do at the halftime programme is to take participants through the S (sigmoid) curve. This has been used mostly in business to describe product life cycles. At halftime, we use it to draw the sequence of our lives. The seasons we go through and how we transition from one to another. If I was to give an elevator pitch of my life’s journey, the S curve would paint a good picture.
However as I went through my halftime programme in 2018 and later helping individuals since then make sense of their halftime season, I realise that many folks tend to think that our lives only have one curve. Maybe it’s because we talk about two halves of life. Life one (0 – 40 or thereabout) where we are driven to achieve and life two which is the next forty years or so where we desire to give back.
I found out during my certification as a halftime coach and facilitator that a life well lived should consist of a few sigmoid curves. Too many on the other hand reflect a jumpy and impatient lifestyle in my view. Charles Handy in his book, The Age of Paradox describes this well. He says, “ The secret to constant growth is to start a new sigmoid curve before the first one peters out. The right place to start that second curve is when there is time as well as resources and energy, to get the new curve through its initial explorations and flounderings and before the first curve begins to dip downward.”
The normal pattern for most people is a curve that rises as we approach middle age then sharply falls off toward retirement. I view halftime as more of refirement. Handy advises us in his book to start a new curve while the first one is still rising but certainly before it begins to fall. Being blind to the signs of my first curve ending remains a major regret for me. Consequently, I have spent most of my 40s starting a new curve but from one that was on the decline. Do not overstay your welcome in any season of your life folks. That makes activating the next season extremely difficult. But it is still doable, you’ll just work overtime.
For me, It felt like starting a fire on ashes that had been rained on yet I had a chance to start one when the ash was still hot and fiery. If only I had done it earlier before the rain started beating me. If there is one piece of advice I can give to folks in midlife is to multitask. Yes, even we men have to learn how to do it if we are to transition successfully. Keep one eye on your current wave (curve) and maximise it. But remain on the lookout for clues that indicate your current curve is ending and the next one is about to begin. Past success is the biggest threat to future success.
My mum is in her third age. She has gone through a series of curves in her life so far. Last week I was surprised that I’ve not noticed the transitions in her life as keenly as I may have in others. She left formal employment at the age of 40 and went into biashara. A few years later she decided to go back to school. I remember enrolling her at USIU in 1999 to start her undergraduate studies as I left with my postgraduate degree. That feat alone was major. Going to campus with kids younger than her own was extraordinary. The beginning of her love affair with books culminated in her graduation with a PHD on Friday last week. And in between, she has authored two books, one on forgiveness and another on marriage.
We hosted a Thanksgiving lunch to honour her remarkable achievement last Sunday. As family and friends spoke of their experience with mum over her education years I couldn’t help but admire how she has transitioned from one season of her life to another. she is now Dr Leah Marang’a at the tender age of 71. Now if that’s not a picture of riding waves successfully then I don’t know what is.
The Good book in Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 6 says, “ There is a time for everything…. A time to search and a time to give up.” Midlife (or halftime) is a time to give up on some curves (read seasons) and embark on the search for our next curve. In addition, midlife can be at any age as my mum has indicated. So wherever you are in this life, you can start your most exciting season ever. No excuses.
Join us at our next round table on 26th and 27th August if you’d like to explore this further. See the flier on this website or DM for details.