If you’re fed up with family life, wearied by work and feel it’s time for a complete overhaul, you could be experiencing MLD. But be careful what you wish for, says Anna Moore
….. Read this article and Keren’s contribition to the feature
It’s also crucial to identify exactly what you want. Vague fantasies won’t do. Keren Smedley, author of Live the Life You Love at 50+, is a counsellor and life coach at Experience Matters (experiencematters.org.uk), which specialises in mid-life. ‘You’re at a life change, a crisis point, but you need to work out exactly what you want to do and why,’ she says. ‘Ask yourself what will be important to you looking back at your life at 90. What will give your life meaning and how can you get it? What’s the first step towards it? Do you have the skills? Do you need to re-enter education?’
If you’re dreaming of a new career, or want to turn your passion into your pay cheque – a common mid-life fantasy – Webber advises that you start with a forensic financial assessment. ‘You have to look at what you’ve got, what you can expect to get. There are some excellent websites, such as savvywoman.co.uk, which will give you an idea of pensions, future needs and forward planning.’ Take baby steps. Find people who have got where you want to be. Juggle a part-time course or mini enterprise with your job.
‘For women struggling with an empty nest, voluntary work can be far more helpful than going on a holiday of a lifetime,’ says Webber. ‘Finding a role for your caring instincts, and knowing that you’re doing something worthwhile, something that makes a difference, can help bury that bleak feeling that you’re no longer needed.’
Don’t burn your bridges. ‘If you really want to try living in a Spanish village, rent out your house, don’t sell it,’ urges Webber. ‘I’ve met so many people who sold up and left for a new life and six months down the line, they wanted to come home. They were cast adrift, they missed their friends, the winters were cold, they had no money and the homing instinct was stronger than they had imagined it would be.’
Instead of writing off a stale marriage, think of mid-life as a time to reconnect, to put yourself and your partner first. ‘It’s easy to blame the people in front of you,’ says Smedley. ‘You think, “I feel awful, I’ll get rid of my husband,” when he isn’t the problem.’
A neutral professional can help untangle your needs. A trusted friend who can listen is another option: just hearing yourself put it into words helps bring clarity.