My name is Maggie and I am 48. I am too old for a gap year and too young for retirement.
But I want to run away to far-flung places in the tradition of the Great Explorers.
Like Christopher Columbus. Like Lewis & Clark. Like Indiana Jones!
Where is my sponsor who will bankroll such an expedition?
Midlife is a busy season in which we grow careers and continue our education. We may raise families, manage homes and eventually, care for aging parents. Professional demands and personal responsibilities increase and we can easily feel time-challenged and overwhelmed.
It is in this in-between space that I am struggling to take inventory of my life before the years slip away and I wonder where they went. After all, decisions made in Midlife will affect everything that happens later on.
In Midlife, we have lost loved ones and are reminded that our time in this world is finite. Life is a clock that is ticking and we are all running out of time.
We wonder about the big world out there beyond ourselves. In the developed world, we enjoy a secure, comfortable life. But shouldn’t a life well-lived also stretch our boundaries and include some extended travel?
We want to volunteer more, to give and make a difference somehow but the kids have a concert and there are bills to pay.
What’s for dinner? Three more baskets of laundry greet us.
Maybe our health is suffering or we feel disappointed with our habits of thought, our waistline or our wallet.
We’re tired, so very tired. We put on a brave smile but inside we know the truth: we need a break.
Jealously, we watch clerics take a semester or year of sabbatical. Teachers have summers off. European friends enjoy extended vacations every year.
In Corporate America, we labor on through 40-50-hour workweeks 11 months per year then come home to another shift of adulting.
Where is my housekeeper? Or my chef, accountant, chauffeur, gardener, and personal assistant? Dream on…
I may stomp my foot like a toddler and scream “I can do it myself!” but in the end, I am human. We all are.
We are sandwiched between everyone else’s needs while our own needs for rest and recreation are set aside. We are hamsters on a wheel and we know it, but we need the paycheck so we keep running.
Perhaps we enjoy our careers, the people we work with, the clients we serve.
Yet there is a growing sense of uncertainty as the years go by. For how long can this pace and workload continue before something breaks, physically or emotionally?
Seeking comfort, I drag myself into a religious service and am reminded that even God rested on the 7th day.
I need to step aside from the frenetic pace and just be, to sit on the bench and breathe and let someone else run the ball down the field for a while. It’s time to plan a Midlife Escape!
For corporate worker bees, this is a counter-cultural idea. We don’t just throw a wrench in the gears and stop the machine. Our job is to produce, especially for those who work in sales. We are handed quotas and told to wave our pom-poms for the latest initiative, which may or may not be a good idea. And no one wants to hear you whine or complain about it. We need team players around here.
Corporate business culture does not support my need to take a year off to be human or to transition to a lifestyle where I can enjoy my daughters more in the last few years I am raising them. They probably won’t hold my position and I may have to start over with whatever is available upon career re-entry. If I am serious about taking some time off, I may be forced to hand my manager a pink slip and walk away.
If I cut that umbilical cord, then what? How can I create another source of income or stash enough cash to be comfortable with that risk? That may sound materialistic but let’s not be martyrs. It’s no fun to be poor.
At 48, I am entering my peak earning years, the season to clean up and catch up, to “make hay” as they say. Life in 6-figure land is better than when I was young and broke, but it isn’t free. The demands increase every year while my personal free time and ability to be creative shrinks.
I’m not really OK with that and I’m not a very good employee because I don’t like being told what to do. This is just business and there is nothing inherently wrong with business, but my being there is deeply personal to me.
Waiting until later for my Midlife Escape is an even greater risk because later never shows up for dinner.
Practically speaking, I have opened a separate bank account to fund this adventure and have been contributing to it a little at a time. When it is big enough for my needs and expectations, I will have options.
Until then, I have hope, and hope is a seed that grows into dreams. And dreams shape themselves into goals and action steps that lead to a life created on purpose.
Are you also ready for – or at least interested in – a Midlife Escape? If so, you’re not alone.
Let’s start a conversation!