By Steve Smethurst
“The mid-life crisis is a myth,” proclaimed CNN in October 2019 1. Unfortunately, the Irish Post disagreed. “The mid-life crisis is REAL and will most likely hit you at 47,” it shouted three months later 2.
Regardless of who you believe, those in their 40s, 50s and 60s do face certain pressures with regard to their finances, careers, home life and health. Linda Sage knows this only too well. Now an award-winning speaker, trainer, mentor and author, she has rebuilt her life after burning-out in her late 40s.
Having carved out a career as a successful criminal psychologist and worked in some of the UK’s toughest prisons, she suffered such a severe ‘burnout’ in 2005 at the age of 49, that it took her six years to recover. Since then, she has been working with healthcare professionals and home-based carers to help them avoid the same fate.
She says: “Self-care is something all care-givers know about, but they don't apply it to themselves. It took me 11 years, six months and 17 days to walk into a prison again.”
She now helps others to avoid a ‘mid-life crisis’. She tells Aviva: “Changes don’t have to be big - small steps can have huge long-term effects. Just keep learning and see what a difference it makes. Don’t forget that some people are old at 20, while others are young at 80, it comes down to mindset and choices.”
Here are Linda’s five tips:
1. Don’t get stuck in a rut professionally
Too many people can do their jobs standing on their heads. Keep learning; upgrade your skills and look at the position you really want. Work out what skills, knowledge and experience you need for it. Then go for it.
2. Get your finances under control
The ‘drowning in debt’ feeling is horrible, but drawing a line under where you are and planning your finances from there is essential. It is not just going to go away and asking for professional advice is wise, not weak. Consolidate your debt, take advantage of 0% offers and restructure your spending. Ultimately, there are only two ways out of financial bad habits: spending less or increasing your income.
3. Pension planning should start early
Pension information always seems like it is for the oldies, when in fact it is essential from the start. Wherever you are in your working life, a good plan should be in place. Most people do not have one job throughout their life, so keeping track of pensions can be complicated. If you haven’t already, speak to an independent financial adviser for more information about your options.
4. Be aware of the strain you’re under
Burn-out among caregivers is all too high within the sandwich generation and it’s essential to be aware of the strain on yourself, your relationships and your mindset. Burn-out does not happen overnight, there are symptoms to look for such as changes in your moods, or sleeping patterns and eating choices, isolation from friends, family and colleagues, and prolonged pessimistic/negative thoughts. It is preventable, but you can’t keep saying, “I’m OK, I’m fine,” when you are not.
5. Find new interests
When the children are at home, many people see their purpose as a parent, caregiver, protector, and lose their identity, so when the children leave it leaves a void. Often, relationships have to be built and time spent on things that were not a priority before. New interests, new friends and new opportunities should be made the most of.
For more information, visit www.lindasage.com.