We all stopped what we were doing this week to read and then reread a Washington Post story that got to the center of what we’re doing at Next For Me. The article The midlife doldrums are a social crisis. Now there’s momentum for some radical fixes.Jonathan Rauch
Marc Freedman, author of The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife and founder and CEO of encore.org states at the beginning:
“I think what we’re seeing, right in front of our nose, is the emergence of a new period of life.”
He suggests that we talk about a midlife chasm instead of a midlife crisis: a gap between the substantial support people need in middle age and the meager support society gives them. “The intervening space is not just wide,” Freedman writes, “it’s confusing and chaotic, a mismatched mess of mixed signals, outdated norms, anachronistic institutions, and multiple misperceptions.”
There is evidence that we go through a period around mid-life of transition rather than crisis. We end up being even more compassionate people with competitive tendencies receding.
The author states:
If you wanted to design a society that exacerbated midlife misery and squandered the potential of later adulthood, you might deliver education in a single lump during the first two decades of life, load work into the middle decades, and then herd healthy, happy and highly skilled older adults into idleness.
Isn’t that right? The old model just doesn’t work anymore. Jobs don’t last forever and as we know the funds for a long retirement are often fleeting. The good news is that according to the research many face the same exuberance and sense of possibility that we had in our 20s in this next phase. What is not necessarily in synch is the business and social world to welcome us into what’s next.
The article goes on to illustrate examples of industry, government and education that are beginning to address the large implications of accommodating an enormous number of people in midlife transition.
Encouraging are the grassroots ‘peer transition groups’ that are emerging with the support of encore.org and are forming organically. We believe in the power of grassroots organizing and the sharing of information and have kicked off our series of Next For Me Meetups across the country.
So as not to spoil the fine reporting and stories the author brings to life – we’ll hand you this link and you can see for yourself. The midlife doldrums are a social crisis. Now there’s momentum for some radical fixes. Jonathan Rauch