10 Must-Read Posts About Midlife Divorce, Work, Wealth & Reinvention
For the past 36 months, I've documented my many flaws… plus the occasional virtue. Like a nervous holiday-maker bound for Bali, I've laid them out for you to inspect, hoping you'll go gentle on me.
I've shared 124 stories about my own midlife crisis, including my marriage breakdown, financial failures and the search for an identity I can live with. You've read about my quest for meaning and purpose, the approach I took to killing off my debt, and how I found more time to live.
On reflection, it astounds me just how much my life has changed over the last two years. But change it has.
If you've been lurking here for a while, you'll know that I attribute much of my reinvention to a collection of very special people. Most of them were strangers to me, yet each left an indelible mark, and I'll be forever grateful to them for that. Most of them are midlifers, too, and you can read about most of them in the Midlife Mentors series.
Now that I've announced my new project, OfficeAnywhere, I thought it was time I backtracked a little and shared some of my most popular stories.
Each one seemed to strike a chord, triggering honest, candid responses from people I've never met. Together, they chronical some of the most valuable lessons learned on my journey towards a happier life. If you read nothing else on this site, I believe you'll find something here to kickstart your own midlife revolution.
You're better off divorced.
Almost ten years to the day after splitting with my wife, I wrote about the pain of moving out on my own. The overwhelming source of that pain was leaving my precious little girls, then only six and four.
A marriage breakdown and the legal wrangling that ensues is one of the most stressful and debilitating experiences you can have. But often, it's the only solution.
Millions of people suffer through loveless, ambivalent or violent relationships, and it's the children who bare it the most.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was this:
“If you're miserable and depressed all the time; if you're not living the authentic version of you, you're doing your children an incredible disservice. You're setting a dangerous example. If your girls matter to you, you need to end the relationship.”
Five reasons it isn't too late to change your life.
When my parents were middle-aged, their lives were already set. Mum was a housewife and dad was a builder and that was that. The prospect of doing or being something different never entered their minds.
Then they got divorced. Now they had to reinvent themselves. Much to each one's surprise, they realised they could learn a bunch of new tricks. Mum learned she could take care of herself and build a network of loyal friends in a new seaside village.
My dad discovered there was more to life than work, and began his new life up in the mountains, doing the kinds of things he'd longed to but never allowed into his life.
Uncomfortable (and painful) as it was in the beginning, both are better people for the experience.
And so it is with each of us – and we needn't wait until a tragedy forces us to reinvent ourselves. Instead, we can choose it. As midlifers, we have five levers at our disposal, and we can deploy them to strike a dramatic reinvention starting today.
Midlife crisis or a chance to reinvent yourself?
In late 2017, I asked a few hundred midlifers what their top five concerns were.
I began by telling them mine:
- Having enough invested so I can live comfortably when I hit 60 (done).
- Clearing out my debts (done).
- Learning to be happy with less stuff (done).
- Finding more time to pursue passions, play with my son and just LIVE (done).
- Improving my health so I can keep up with my son when we begin outdoor adventures together (WIP).
Their feedback showed a consistent pattern; one that echoed my own experience. Here's what they told me.
Money is a huge issue.
They're worried they'll never have enough for a comfortable retirement. Unsurprisingly, many seem to lack basic investment skills, so instead of leveraging their income, they're spending everything they earn. They carry too much consumer debt but continue to assuage their frustration by purchasing more and more stuff.
The Here and Now
For most of us, midlife is the busiest chapter of our lives. There are endless demands on our time and resources, with family and career dominating every waking hour. Respondents said they struggle to be present with their kids, with their partner and with their environment. Multi-tasking dominates their lives.
Lotteries are popular because people are unhappy with their lives, and they believe money is the only solution. Others change careers, homes, cars or partners in the search for something new, thinking new must be better.
I've written a lot about this, and another popular post, Quitting your Job is the Wrong Move (see below), addresses some of this.
You're Gonna Die
Mortality looms large on midlifers' list of fears. But the sooner we reconcile the inescapable truth about our inevitable demise, the sooner we can appreciate the life we have.
No More Crap
I wish I'd discovered minimalism much sooner. My ‘awakening' came after watching The Minimalists' brilliant documentary. Other midlifers are discovering the benefits of living more with less, too. Eliminating debt, living intentionally and appreciating what you already have are all valuable lessons here.
Make 2018 your midlife reinvention year.
Am I too late? Has life passed me by? Is it wrong to want a better life? What the hell is wrong with me?
These are the questions I struggled with this time two years ago. I'd become a cliche; sitting there on the toilet at 2:00 am, thumbing my phone for answers:
“How to solve a midlife crisis.”
“Starting an online business.”
“Why am I depressed?”
This post details the ten steps I followed on my path to midlife reinvention – from solving my #1 problem to finding mentors and making time with my family a higher priority.
Decisions that changed my life.
We're all fumbling around in the dark; none of us really know what we're doing. Even when we follow proven strategies, there's always the x-factor – the ‘x' being us, and all the baggage and conditioning we bring to the equation.
In June 2005, Steve Jobs gave his famous Stanford University commencement speech. In it, he said:
“You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
This post explains the decisions that most dramatically changed my life, and why. They might work for you or they might not, but I'm sure you'll glean something useful from them.
Create a side business from what you know.
This post is the eighth in a nine-part series I wrote about fixing your money problems forever.
We're living during an amazing time in history, where, thanks to the Internet and the proliferation of free knowledge (like this post), it's never been easier to create something of our own.
In this post, I answer the big question, “What can I do and how can I make money from it?”
Why I'm embracing minimalism.
I mentioned minimalism earlier. This post goes into detail about the life-changing effects of embracing this philosophy. It covers issues like goals vs happiness, compulsive consumption, and the big payoff you can expect once you start consuming with intention.
Quitting your job is the wrong move.
I quit school when I was sixteen. I got up from my desk, I ran to my locker and bolted out the gate before anyone could stop me. To this day it remains a favourite in my personal highlight reel.
I can’t quit things so easily anymore. I have a wife, I have three kids, and bills, and a mortgage. I even have an ex-wife. Two, actually.
Thankfully, it's no longer necessary to throw out the baby with the bathwater; we don't have to quit our job to be happy. There are a bunch of reasons for this, but a few stand out.
The number one key to wealth.
The average person sees over 5,000 marketing messages a day. Almost all of it says the same thing: “Buy this and you'll be happier, healthier, cooler or better looking.”
It's always been this way, only now, the Internet and social media have amplified the frequency and intensity to a point where it's inescapable.
The obvious answer seems to be money; lots more money. It's true, money does solve a lot of problems – especially where money works. It isn't everything, though, and many people lose themselves, their family and their health in the pursuit of money.
I believe that building longterm wealth is like brushing your teeth. Do it every day, don't analyse it too much and get on with your life. You don't obsess over your teeth, you just do what needs to be done whether you feel like it or not.
This post illustrates the most important key to wealth, along with its pigeon pair. Read it, do it, and get on with your life.
Finding time to reinvent yourself.
I used to admire people who were busy. I assumed they were important or popular, or that their skills were in high demand by influential people. Because of this, I wanted to be busy, too.
This single belief informed some of my most destructive behaviours, leading to bad spending habits, one heart attack and many years wasted on the wrong priorities.
Now, more than ever, we must learn to enjoy our lives. Once I truly understood how short life is, I set about living it on my terms. This post details exactly how I found time to reinvent my life and get back to living.
I hope a few of these posts were as helpful to you as they were those who've told me about their own transformation. As always, feel free to write to me any time.
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