Face it. You’ve done a lot of things in your life. But navigating through midlife isn’t one of them. That’s an experience you only do once.
If you want to pursue the journey from success to significance, learning from the experiences of others—those who have “been there and done that”—is a good place to start. Over the past 10 years, we have identified four distinct stages of the halftime journey. Different individuals move forward in their own time and in their own way. But the fundamental process is remarkably consistent for all halftimers.
Stage 1. Foundation of Success
Many highly successful people find midlife confusing and unsettling. They don’t realise they are about to enter a new stage of life. They just know that things seem different—and something they can’t even define is missing.The trigger may be a significant life event—a child leaving for college, the death of a parent, the pain of divorce, a liquidity event, a significant career success or failure in your career. Other individuals simply enter a calm season that provides the opportunity to truly see where life has—and has not—taken them. Regardless of the door through which you enter, in this first stage you will likely find yourself asking such questions as these:
- I have accomplished what I set out to do, but is there more to life?
- Am I alone in feeling this way?
- How much (stuff, money, advancement) is enough?
- In what ways is my success a platform for something even more meaningful?
Stage 2. The Journey Inward
As you realise that even tremendous financial success does not bring true satisfaction, your thoughts shift to even deeper matters. You think less about what you have done and more about who you are. You may wonder if God has created you for a specific purpose on this earth. At this point, you may ask a different set of questions:
- What am I really passionate about?
- What are my core values and greatest strengths?
- How can I find eternal significance?
- How might my spouse and I share this new experience?
- Who can come alongside me to provide wisdom and insights during this journey?
Stage 3. Awakening Challenge
With a renewed vision of who you are and your purpose in life, you will be ready for a period of exploration. You’ll analyze different ways in which you might invest your second half and further develop your new world view. In this phase, you will likely ask such questions as these:
- How can I open up enough margin in my life to pursue my calling?
- How do I prepare myself and my family for this transition?
- What legacy do I desire to leave through my children and grandchildren?
- What specific arenas of service might fit my skills and passions?
- How do I begin to find the serving opportunities that fit me?
Stage 4. Reaching Potential
The last leg of your mid-life journey is the process of engaging fully in what you are called to do and be in your second half. It’s about finding a new equilibrium in life—with a new and active commitment to serving. Common questions during this final stage include:
- How do I decide between various serving opportunities?
- How can I make my new vision fit with my financial situation?
- Where can I make my highest and best contribution?
- How will I measure my effectiveness?
- Am I growing closer to God and to those I love as I embark on this new journey?