Myth or Fact: Midlife Crisis

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Myth or Fact: Midlife Crisis

By: Terry Burgess, Midlife Coach for Men


What do you think when you hear the term midlife crisis?  I am sure the first thing that pops up in your head is the thought of a man in his forties making a big-ticket item purchase such as a red sports car or having an affair.  This is because this is the stereotypical ideal presented in society.

There is a debate if there is such a phenomenon as a “midlife crisis” in today’s society.  A NBC Today Show poll asked if people thought that midlife crisis is real?   The answers show over 90% say yes.  However, of those answering yes, 52% say not everyone has a midlife crisis.

Ok, so if 90 percent of the persons polled stated “yes” then why is there a debate.  Well it is how you define what is a “midlife crisis”.  Typically, it is thought that when we are in our 20’s and 30’s we are busy defining our lives, creating families and careers.

When we reach our 40’s and 50’s we generally reach a point in our lives where we pause and reflect on our younger years, this is what many say is a low point of our happiness in our lives according to the U-curve of measuring happiness in one’s life.   It is this period where if we are not meeting expectations set by ourselves or others, we begin to question and make changes to attempt to reach those expectations. This is where one might be considered being in a midlife crisis.  If the individual is meeting their expectations as well as those set by others they continue with life without pause.  It is this second group of individuals that become satisfied and move on to be happier as they enter their “seasoned” or senior years of life.

One interesting statistic from the NBC Today Poll shows a direct correlation to the average age of when one thinks a midlife crisis happens and the life expectancy as well as healthy living lifestyles have increased in society.  The average American thought they reached midlife age when they were 45 just two decades ago. However, the poll shows now 52% of Americans consider themselves to be middle aged at 55 years old.

It is my belief that anyone from ages 30 to 60 can have a “midlife moment” depending on their circumstances.  However there are several circumstances that can help ward off “midlife crisis/moments” and we will discuss them in a future blog.

Terry is a Personal Leadership and Midlife Coach for Men with Upward MC in Benton, Kentucky.  He can be contacted via e-mail at  or by phone at 270-493-0967. His website can be found at


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