Healthy Aging Image Gallery
Healthy Aging Image Gallery

A second adulthood allows time for reflection and lifestyle changes. Revitalizing your relationship with your spouse is one way to get a head start on your future. See more healthy aging pictures.

Getty Images/Comstock/Thinkstock

It happens all of a sudden. You are waiting in the carpool lane at your child's school and you get this sickening sense that time is running out, that your dream of being a painter, a successful lawyer, or even just losing a few more pounds will never materialize. Or you are passing your spouse the serving dish at dinner and you suddenly pause, wondering, Why did we get married?

If this scenario sounds familiar, you are probably going through what experts call a "midlife transformation," a change that people between the ages of 35 and 45 undergo as they realize for the first time that they too will kick the bucket at some point.

"People frequently go through a midlife re-evaluation rather than a midlife crisis when they turn 40 because they become profoundly aware of their mortality," says Gene Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., author of The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life.

Strategies for Getting a Head Start on Your Future:

Ask yourself basic exploratory questions:

  1. Are you happy with your work?
  2. Ask yourself what you can do to continue growing.
  3. Dip into your own creativity and pursue new hobbies.
  4. Ask friends for suggestions on what interests to pursue.
  5. Examine lifestyle changes.
  6. Revitalize your relationship with your spouse or partner.
  7. Develop an interest in your partner's interests.

The re-evaluation opens up the door for reflection. According to Gail Sheehy, best-selling author of New Passages, people live so long today that they actually get a shot at two adulthoods. The first one, she says, takes place between the ages of 30 to 45, the time we spend brown-nosing people we have to please so we can get what we want. The second adulthood begins in our mid-40s, when we ask ourselves, "is this all there is?" and then embark on a personal, spiritual quest to find new meaning in our lives.See the next page to learn more.