The 40s: Decade of Self Awareness?

The movie This is 40 is a satirical look at the life of a husband and wife who are turning 40 years of age. They have challenges with their kids, their businesses/jobs, financial security and personal relationships. All manner of comedy ensues. It is said that the humor is the good natured side of the truth.  Although This is 40 is a caricature, it isn’t far off either. I’ve certainly seen a number of friends go through difficult times of late.

That said, while the 40s certainly present some challenges, I’ve come the conclusion that the 40s are an opportunity to develop self-awareness. My sense is that the accumulating pressures of career, family and of balancing the two crescendo during the 40s. That crescendo may trigger a period of self-reflection and, hopefully, a resultant self-awareness. I can honestly say I’m going through a fair bit of reflection myself. But I also see some friends and acquaintances going through it more acutely.

I got an email from an acquaintance yesterday that really struck me. The sender, who is by all accounts a successful guy, was writing to describe a significant career transition he’s going through. The specifics of his prior career and the new one on which he is embarking aren’t particularly important. What is striking is how transformational the change is. It would be like me going from private equity to being a head chef at a restaurant. Another friend has gone through a similar transition recently. The career pivot on which he has embarked is equally transformational.

Their situations have a lot in common. Both are mid/late-40s. Both have kids. Both had been on a career track that they did well with, but which ultimately didn’t fulfill them. Both seemed to go through a meaningful period of reflection. Upon reflection, both have come to better understand what they are passionate about, causing them to consider and execute on a transformational career change.

Both guys seem to have been working mental overtime to find the magic alignment between their passions, abilities and opportunity. Both had the courage to stop, reflect and make a change; the kind of change that has to be incredible scary. Going through that kind of process and coming out the other end with a better sense of self has to emanate from an authentic and self-aware place and takes a lot of courage. I have a strong instinct that the career pivots both are pursuing will work out because both have consciously chosen their new pursuit. More on pursuing your passions from BrainPickings.

Btw, I’m 42… self-awareness on.

The 40s: Decade of Self Awareness?