“Mid Life Crisis”    

Issue 52

By:  Ron Brounes  

August 2001


The other day, a buddy of mine suggested we start planning a college fraternity reunion weekend next year in honor of all of our respective 40th birthdays.  At first, I was taken back, not realizing that my friend was that much older than me.  He quickly pointed out that I too would be turning 40 in 2002 (very late 2002, I must add).  For the next few days, I walked around in kind of a funk, totally freaked out about the prospects of turning the big 4-0.  (I never really cared for that expression, “Lordy, Lordy, look who’s 40…especially now that it’s about to pertain to me.)  How did this possibly happen?  It seems like just yesterday I was 25 years old; I went to sleep, hit the snooze button a few extra times, woke up, and I was 38. Certainly, I don’t look “almost 40”? Certainly, I don’t act “almost 40”?  Certainly, I don’t feel “almost 40”?  Then again, maybe I do.


This past year, I attended a number of Bar/Bat Mitzvahs of my friends’ children. Mind you, these are not older friends, but rather people I grew up with; people I went to school with.  And now they have 13 year old kids.  Next month, my niece is heading off to college.  My sister is only four (actually four and a half) years my senior and she has a 18 year old daughter (see November 1998 FWIW).   I recently got a notice in the mail that my dog was due for her “geriatric” checkup. (The only thing more ridiculous than this racket is that I fell for it.) My dog turns 11 this year and after that $200+ 15 minute appointment, she checked out quite well.  Though she is 77 in dog years and sleeps about 23 hours a day, she’s still more active than me. 




In actuality, I should have seen it coming.  The signs have been there for a while.  A year or so ago, I joined a softball league (35 and over) to recreate my old athletic prowess.  The morning after the first (and second and third) game, I could barely move.  It hurt to stand up; it hurt to walk; it hurt to get dressed.  And I don’t even think I ever hit the ball out of the infield.  (Some things never change.)  Just last week, some of my “contemporaries” and I hiked 4.6 miles up a mountain in Vail.  While we encouraged each other along the way with incentives like hot cocoa, naps, and spas (for the woman) waiting when we returned, we were passed by a flock of teenagers who made it up in about half the time.  (And they were probably hungover from the night before.)  


While on that same Vail trip for a friend’s wedding, a few buddies and I stumbled into a bar for a very late nightcap.  (It must have been about 9:30 p.m.)   The average age of the people in the club rose several years when we arrived.  A sign outside informed all patrons that they card everyone under 30.  Needless to say, we walked in no questions asked.  Once inside, a friend commented about the nice looking “younger” crowd and wondered if we blended in.   My guess is his gray goatee gave us away.  (That and the fact that we asked the DJ to turn the music lower so we could hear ourselves talk.)   On that note, any time I have two beers (or dare I drink three beers), I wake up in the middle of the night with a throbbing headache.  And I used to drink three beers for breakfast.  (OK, never for breakfast…but a hangover after a couple of O-Douls?)   Speaking of waking up, I don’t think I’ve slept past 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday and Sunday morning in about five years.  I used to be the king of sleeping until noon and now, even when I have nothing to do (which is pretty frequently), I find myself making coffee and reading the newspaper before the crack of dawn.  (But, I’m still the king of taking naps, especially at work.) 


Recently, I went out to dinner with a girl in her mid-20s.  Almost immediately, she pointed out that this was not a date because she drew the line at going out with “men” more than 10 years older than her.  (But she sure didn’t mind my paying for her meal.)  By the way, I now draw the line by not going out with “women” whose favorite TV show is Dawson’s Creek.  (Then again, that’s not a steadfast rule, it you know of someone for me.) 




As the years pass, we often get into a rut with our same daily routines.  We wake up, go to work, come home, kiss our spouses and kids (dogs), eat dinner, go to sleep, do it again the next day.  We earn our livings and provide for our families (or future families). Occasionally, however, since time stops for no one, we need to step back and evaluate our lives, both personally and professionally.  Are we accomplishing all the things we’ve set out to do?  Is our business progressing in the manner we had hoped?  Are things going well around the old household?  Are there things we would like to change if we could?   Have we gotten into a rut at work and/or at home?  What can we do about it? 


This little period of self-evaluation is not reserved for that pre-40 crisis, but should really occur every year.  Twenty-somethings need to set goals and track their progress just like 40-somethings and 60-somethings and 80-somethings. While our goals may change with each passing year, we must always have things we are striving to accomplish and not be content merely going through the motions.  This little exercise should almost always result in some modification to our daily lives.   At times, these changes may be quite significant: a different major at college, an entirely new career, perhaps a move to another city. A friend of mine recently felt his job and career had become stagnant.  In order to evaluate his options, he submitted his resume’ to an on-line “headhunter.”  A few weeks ago, he accepted a new position in the financial services industry and moved with his family to Denver.  Another friend’s wife (she’s actually a friend as well) had a career enhancement opportunity that required a year-long training program outside of Houston.  After evaluating the opportunity, these native Houstonians packed up the kids and spent a year in Bergamo, Italy for what turned out to be a phenomenal experience for the entire family.


Sometimes, the exercise simply results in shaking things up just a tad, changing up that routine, letting your hair down (if you have any), and simply feeling young again.  A few friends have gone out and purchased those convertible sports cars that they’ve always dreamed of.  (Like that’s not a sure sign of a mid-life crisis.)  Other have pierced some body parts and/or gotten tattoos.  (Nothing’s more sexy than a 40-year old mother of two with a bellybutton ring.)  The point is, these things worked for them.  Those changes to their lives made them feel good about themselves.  They were rejuvenated (as silly as they looked) and that’s what’s really important.   As for me, no matter how much I worry about it, I still turn 40 next year (very late next year, I must add).  So rather than dwell on this whole age thing, I’m sure that there are more productive ways to spend my time.  After all, I’ve got a college fraternity reunion to begin planning.


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FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH is a publication of Brounes & Associates focusing on business marketing and general communications strategies. Please call Ron Brounes at 713-432-1910 for additional information. By the way, does anyone know where I can get my hands on tapes of the first few seasons of Dawson’s Creek?