Midlife redesign: 10 signs you’re ready

Midlife woman walks in a meadow by the sea in Pane e Pomodoro's beach in Bari (Apulia)

Midlife gets a bad rap with its connection to crises and stray chin hairs. But what is also true is the middle can be an incredible time of life.

By the time we reach our 40s and 50s, we’ve put hours and hours into building our lives. If we haven’t quite gotten to the top of the mountain then we’re at least experts on the climb. And we look around and realize that all our choices have brought us to this point.

Now (optimistically assuming we’ll all live another 40-50 years), we can finally harvest the seeds we planted when we were younger and there is still time to sow new ones for our future. For me, that’s what makes this age so powerful; the experience paired with possibility.

And things really do feel different quite suddenly. We might find ourselves with more time, maybe because our kids are a little older and self-sufficient, and we have to make choices about how we’ll spend the extra hours. Or there may feel like there is less time than ever and we start to question the grind.

We might experience a health scare and realize we’re not immortal after all. Some of us might be stepping into our creativity or reclaiming some lost part of ourselves. Others might be getting honest about what they’ve been tolerating up to now and refuse to do so for another minute. This is a time for second chances, second (or third) careers, and re-constructing relationships.

As fruitful and introspective as this time of life can be, it can also be confusing. It’s easy to forget what’s important to us and get caught up in maintaining a status quo that might not even be in our best interest anymore. To end up losing ourselves a bit as we spend so much effort getting things done. All of the opportunity to keep growing, changing, and learning can slip away if we’re not present enough to recognize it.

That’s why I believe that midlife is an important time to check-in. To review if what used to work is still working, if our assumptions are still true (if they ever were), and to assess if our habits and choices are still serving us (if they ever were). Because what made sense (or didn’t) for our younger selves might not anymore. Who we needed to be to get up the mountain may be different than who we want to be now. And we’ll never know if we don’t stop and think about it.

A redesign makes the unconscious conscious and helps you go from default actions and knee-jerk reactions to acting with intention and awareness.

How to recognize you’re ready for a midlife redesign:

  • You feel like you never have enough energy
  • You feel like you never have enough time
  • You feel like you’re stuck in a rut
  • It feels like you’re sleep-walking through life
  • You consistently numb yourself with food, alcohol, shopping, or mindless screen time
  • You’ve been successful in one or two areas of your life but neglected others
  • You have dreams but feel like it’s too late to realize them
  • You know there is something else you want to be or do but you don’t know what that is
  • You keep yourself so busy that there is no time for anything but exhaustion
  • Sometimes you can’t believe this is all there is to life

If any of the above statements resonate with you, consider if you still want to be feeling that way in another year, or in five more, or even 20-40 years down the line? Because with every new choice we make we’re creating the future.

When I get to the end of my life, I want to look back and know that I loved my people to the fullest, that I kept learning and growing until the end, that I stayed mobile, healthy, and vital for as long as possible, and that I lived with as much awareness and as true to myself as I could. 

And while, of course, I don’t know what the future holds, this vision would not even be a possibility if I was not consciously creating my present

What parts of your life need a redesign? Let me know in the comments below or let’s connect and chat about it in person!

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4 Comments

  • “For me, that’s what makes this age so powerful; the experience paired with possibility.” – love this Sara. I recently turned 40 and I agree that reaching this age can get a bad rep. Instead, I choose to think of it as a time of possibility, growth and continued beginnings. Great post.

    • I completely agree, Sarah. It’s a very exciting time of life! Thanks so much for sharing.

  • This resonates with me! At 39 I realized that there would actually be an end date to this thing called life, I had just never realized that in a resonating way before. That simple shift in perspective changed the way I saw everything and I felt compelled to move into the drivers seat of my own life. Like you, the redesign has been an exciting opportunity to live fully. Beautifully written Sara!

    • Thank you for sharing your experience, Corey. I am so happy this connected with you and love that you are claiming your life and redesigning before the big 40! What a beautiful birthday gift to yourself.

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Sara Smeaton, photographed in her garden in front of lilac bushes by Amber Ellis.
About the author

Sara Smeaton

I help you discover the joy and power in midlife and navigate the transitions on your own terms. I am passionate about changing the narrative about aging and am trying to fill the world with profiles of real life people who are thriving and more alive after 40 than ever before. The best is yet to come and there are role models all around us. Book your free 30-minute connection call.

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