how long does a mlc last?
2 Feb 2024

How long does a midlife crisis last?

How long does a midlife crisis last? The short answer is; It’s up to you.

The duration of a midlife crisis can vary significantly from person to person. It’s not a universally defined period but rather a phase of introspection and questioning. Not everyone will experience a midlife crisis, but those who do can experience an onset (maybe initially in the form of a low mood or feelings of anxiety) from their late 30s to the early 50s and beyond.

For some, it might last a few months, while for others, it could span several years. The average time is typically 3-5 years. Low mood may be accompanied by inner conflict, feeling lost and unfulfilled and for many people, a sense of underachievement. The intensity and duration of a midlife crisis will depend on how quickly you recognise you are in crisis, identify the cause(s) and origins(s) of the crisis and action change which resolves these underlying issues which elevate you out of it.

Why does it happen?

Through my research and work with clients in midlife, commonly, people feel their lives are out of sync and this is usually because they have not updated their life choices to reflect the person, they currently want to be.

Values are formed in childhood and firmed up in our early 20s. These values (often inherited from parents, religion, society and authority figures) guide our decision-making and our behaviour – they can lead us into certain jobs, relationships, universities and social lives.

But the 20-year-old person can differ greatly from the 40- and 50-year-old person who has been in the world far longer, experienced highs and lows of life, heartbreak, job dissatisfaction, and feeling let down.

When your day-to-day living is not adjusted to represent your changed beliefs, opinions and interests, a disconnect and misfit of your life can occur.

When will it end?

It is unlikely that a midlife crisis will resolve itself on its own. It takes conscious readjustment of life to align aspects of your world (personal professional, relational, familial) in line with your updated beliefs, values, interests, desires and passions.

Until life is adjusted to ‘fit’ the anxiety and disgruntlement experienced for example in a poor relationship or outdated job, will not go away. Taking responsibility to renew your life choices is essential, it’s really important not to expect the world to change around you or rely on someone else to change and make your life better.

This isn’t an easy process and you are bound to meet resistance along the way from others who don’t understand what is happening to you or your new choices, or might be invested in you remaining as you are and not changing at all.

Strategies to support your change include:

  1. Self-reflection; This is essential because only you can work out and decide who you are now and what truly resonates with you. Often personal therapy aids, helps and speeds up this process.
  2. Support system; Having friends and family who love you, appreciate the difficulties you are experiencing and don’t judge you for it, but encourage you makes such a difference to the speed at which you can travel through this life transition.
  3. Exploration and new experiences; Trying new activities or hobbies can reignite passions and help in discovering new interests or perspectives
  4. Setting personal goals; Reevaluate your life goals and set new ones that align with your current values and aspirations. This can bring a sense of purpose and direction.

A midlife crisis presents opportunities for growth and self-discovery. It’s a chance to reassess priorities and make positive changes in various aspects of life. The sooner you can understand where your life has become misaligned, steered off course, and disconnected from the person you truly want to be, the sooner you will be able to consciously fix the misalignment and head towards a more coherent, authentic self.