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The End Of The Midlife Crisis?


The midlife crisis with its clichés of sports cars and dressing like a teenager again is fast disappearing according to new research, with 57 per cent of people seeing the idea of it as old hat. It’s being replaced by a whole new life stage – the so-called ‘second bounce’.

A new report by Goodyear Tyres has found that less than 18 per cent of people aged 35+ think they have experienced a midlife crisis – and that even they could be confusing it with the work, family and financial pressures of modern life. This would explain why a quarter of Londoners (27 per cent) say they have experienced a midlife crisis, compared with just 12 per cent of Scots.

With people living longer lives than ever there are also varying views on when middle age now starts:

  • 31 per cent of respondents say it starts at 40
  • 23 per cent think 50 marks the half-way point in life
  • 16 per cent of people aged 50-55 still don’t class themselves as middle aged

Crucially, over half (54 per cent) say they are approaching middle age in a different way to generations before them, of which three quarters (71 per cent) say they are approaching it more positively. Exercise came out top when respondents were asked which hobbies they most wanted to begin in middle age. This is what sets the second bounce life stage apart from the old midlife crisis.

Convertible car

People are shaking off the old clichés of fast cars and finding a new outlook on life.

Second bounce – the new midlife crisis

According to the report, the second bounce is about embracing age and seeing it as an asset rather than a liability, it’s about feeling good about the future. Like the midlife crisis, the second bounce involves going through a process but it’s a positive process of reflection, taking stock and self-assessment, rather than being caught up in it with a sense of panic at time slipping by.

The analogy used in the report is half time during a football match. If you’re going to play a brilliant second half, you first need to know what the half time score is, where you went wrong in the first half, and also how you scored the goals you scored.

The School of Life’s Robert Rowland Smith, who partnered with Goodyear to develop the Second Bounce Report, commented:

“There are second bouncers all around us in the public eye – look at Sir Alex Ferguson for example, who has excelled in the second part of his life as manager of Manchester United. Or the actor Samuel L Jackson, whose career only really took off when he starred in Pulp Fiction aged 46. And middle aged men in Lycra may get some stick, but they are the embodiment of the second bounce phenomenon.”

How to achieve your own second bounce

Rowland Smith recommends making time for reflection in places where you won’t be disturbed, like in your car for example. Your car is one of the few places left in the modern world in which you can be alone to think, you can take a short drive, park up and be totally alone in a remarkably calm environment.

The philosopher goes on to give the following tips for getting through the midlife hump, and turning it from a crisis into a moment of positivity:

  1. Mirror   The mirror reflects your recent past. Ask yourself, what are the two or three things you have learnt recently? And how could these insights be useful? If it’s helpful, you can think of your life as a project, and of recent events as milestones in that project that you are now reviewing in order to refine the next steps you are about to take.
  2. Signal   This is the chance for you to think about where you are going. What direction are you travelling in at the moment? Are you following your own course or one that has been set for you? Is it really you in the driving seat, or is somebody else making you go where you don’t want to go? Ask yourself, what one or two actions might you need to take in order to change course if you need to. Maybe you find yourself on a detour, and if so, can you think of shortcuts to get yourself back on track?
  3. Manoeuvre   Whether it’s at home or at work, there will be small, tactical moves you can make that help you along the road you want to take. It might be taking aside your boss and having a word about your career. It might be talking to your partner about clearing some space to be with each other. It might be sorting out a minor conflict that has flared up with a friend. In all cases, there are small adjustments we can make that serve to clear the path.

Goodyear has also teamed up with The School of Life to develop a series of inspiring podcasts to help people find their Second Bounce. Listen to the podcasts on SoundCloud and read the full report on the Goodyear website.

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