Millennials, Welcome to Middle Age!

September 9, 2022

Millennials, Welcome to Middle Age!

May 29, 2023

The Middle Age Millennial is making news! First, it was CNBC, with its focus on "Middle-Aged Millennials." Then, a recent column in the NY Times surveyed the same demographic under the title, "Millennials, the Data Says You're Middle-Aged. What Do You Say?"

The Times piece suggests, "The middle of our lives might not look exactly as it did for our parents or grandparents — or even as we once thought it would. We might have had kids later than we expected or not at all. Our romantic relationships aren't as easily categorized. We've lived through a bunch of recessions and a pandemic, the housing market is a mess, and we may have jobs that didn't even exist when we were born."

I look forward to their future article that will compile the survey results.

Of course, we already know this statistic: Almost 15% of our MEA compadres are Millennials, which surprised Christine, Jeff, and me when we first opened. However, these precocious folks are sagely curious about how to cultivate and harvest wisdom. If older Millennials in their early 40s asked me what to expect from their next decade (after asking them a few Appreciative Inquiry questions first), I might offer them these five thoughts:

1. The first half of your adult life is focused more on accumulating: success, responsibilities, family, friends, hobbies, and identities. The midlife unraveling (that our friend Brené Brown talks about) is often about feeling weighed down by all this accumulation. It can also be your call to begin focusing on what's important in your life and start the process of editing that which doesn't serve or nourish you or those around you.

2. Be prepared for your primary operating system to change from your ego to your soul around the time you hit midlife (often, when the shit starts hitting the fan). Your forties are when you realize that so many of your motivations have come from your ego, your parents' "success script," and your surrender to letting the cultural flow define your trajectory. Start listening inside yourself a little more.

3. We’ve added three decades to global longevity in the past century. Our extra years don't mean we have added metaphorical bedrooms in our backyard or more years of being old. Make time for your "midlife atrium," when you can appreciate the space, light, and time to reflect. A "gap year" might serve you well during your 40s.

4. Remember that age 47.2 is typically the low point of the U-curve of happiness, although your mileage may vary. Going through significant challenges between 45 and 50 is not unusual, but it does get better after 50. Of course, this doesn't mean all the circumstances in your life will be perfect. No, your parents will pass away, as will more and more of your friends, and you'll have your own health challenges. Fortunately, after 50, we seem to learn how to turn lemons into lemonade more adeptly than when we were younger. Isn't it ironic that it all comes back to the lemonade stand of our lives in our later years?

5. I suggest reading my favorite leadership book, Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning." I read it once a year. It is a hauntingly beautiful book that will remind you that your life isn't so bad and that you should also be careful of letting your mind become a prison. FYI… it's not a typical leadership book, as it's more about leading yourself than others.

And, of course, you're always welcome at MEA in Baja. You might particularly appreciate a workshop I'm co-leading (with Michael Hebb who created the “Death Over Dinner” global movement) this fall called "Love, Death, and Human Connection." It is sure to be a deep, zesty week that will remind you what's important in life. Hope to see you in Baja!!

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