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4 Tips for When You’re Creeping Toward Middle Age

The looming deadline for life’s accomplishments once one hits middle age has been a shared experience for generations. Black balloons emblazoned with your numerical arrival at mid-life is enough to incite a crisis in and of itself. However, the achievement of reaching the midpoint of standard longevity doesn’t need to feel like a stress-inducing performance review. Instead, challenge popular culture and look at your midpoint as an opportunity to have a halftime huddle with yourself. 

1. Refresh Your Style and Confidence Levels

When you look good, you feel good. And if it’s been a while since you’ve felt anywhere close to good, it’s time for a refresh. Life gets busy, especially as you add more responsibilities to it through increased work and family commitments. Add in the expected, yet no less surprising, shifts in one’s appearance through aging and suddenly you don’t feel comfortable.

Shake up your style and recharge your confidence with an honest assessment of your personal style choices. What once worked for you in your early 20s may not be well-suited for your life today. Clothes may not fit as well as they once did and fabrics may be past the point of bouncing back. Make like Marie Kondo and pull everything out of your closet and medicine cabinet. 

Check for fit, condition, and style just as much as you do usage frequency. If you aren’t choosing that shirt or using that hair product, there’s likely a logical reason. If hair loss is making you shy away from your favorite pomade and toward a hat you hate, pay attention. That’s a sign you’re ready for a change. Upgrade your product lineup, supportive treatments, and wardrobe as appropriate. You’ll feel better in the long run.

2. Conduct a Life Check-In

The world is obsessed with statistics, and headlines claiming what you should achieve upon certain milestones crank up the pressure. Financial success, relationship health, and your appearance are only the beginning. But when was the last time you thought about what was important to you

Not everyone has a list of goals that they’re constantly working toward, and pursuing them with rigidity isn’t required. But, taking on life without an understanding of what’s important to you can lead to missed opportunities and even regret. 

Reserve some time to review your life in all areas, writing down how you feel and view your life as it is. Then, let your mind explore what you’d like to change and consider how you might get there. Finally, identify three goals to pursue and what you’ll do to achieve them. Keep them in a visible place like at your desk, in your planner, or even as your phone background. This visual reminder will help reinforce your plan and can help you stay on track. 

3. Make Social Engagements a Priority

Life gets busy once everyone exits traditional educational structures, leans into work, and settles into their corner of the world. Even in a tech-heavy world, human relationships are essential for happiness and have even been linked to stronger cognitive function. However, carving out time for your social life can feel laughable and even impossible while managing the mayhem of midlife. 

Instead of ruminating about the impossible task of creating time where it doesn’t exist, integrate socialization within your existing schedule. Plan lunch meetups with friends during the workday to recharge, and set healthy boundaries between work and life. This strategy can be especially helpful when your free time is limited due to family and caregiving commitments. Leverage the mid-day break when you can step away from work and have caregiving covered. 

Social media can connect friends and family more than ever, but it’s no substitute for being together. When an invitation comes in for a family barbeque or birthday party, resist the urge to decline. There’s no debate that driving to a function requires flexibility, time, and mental effort. However, time is the most nonrenewable resource and, on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, the freedom to gather is worth treasuring. Your people are worth the effort, and connecting with them will yield greater benefits than working late ever will.  

4. Establish a Healthy Relationship with Your Finances

If midlife is going to incite a wakeup call, let it also wake up your approach to your finances. Much of early adulthood is figuring out how to manage life, and your budget, on your own. Learning how to budget, manage debt, and plan for the future is a challenge that doesn’t discriminate. 

Assess your current financial standing across all areas, paying special attention to consumer debt and retirement planning. If you’re currently managing high consumer debt loads like many Americans, now is the time to devise a payoff plan. Revise your monthly budget to accommodate for steady repayment and carefully consider strategic options like 0% balance transfers. If a new credit card would increase temptation, use the debt snowball method to stay the course without new credit.  

Next, calculate your current retirement savings and how you’re tracking toward establishing what income you’ll need in retirement. If you aren’t saving enough to earn your employers’ matching contributions, adjust your budget and withholding to do so. This free money doesn’t count toward your individual contribution limit, so do what you can to maximize your employer’s offer. Finally, review post-tax investments, pension vesting, and Social Security estimates to ensure you’re tracking to replace 75% of your income. 

Welcome Middle Age With a Fresh Perspective

Use the halftime huddle brought on by middle age as an opportunity to rally, readjust, and refresh your life. With an honest assessment of how things are going, you can create a life that you’re proud of. No matter what your ideal life looks like, you deserve to have one that’s fulfilling, secure, and reflects your values. Open your mind to what a modern approach to middle age can be, and you’ll build a life you love.