NAV­I­GAT­ING THE THREE-QUAR­TER LIFE CRI­SIS

For baby boomers en­ter­ing a new phase, mak­ing life de­ci­sions is a dif­fi­cult propo­si­tion Chu­valo shares in­sider info in can­did mem­oir

Calgary Herald New Condos - - Recreation & Investment Properties - LISA MON­FOR­TON

You may have heard of the quar­ter-life cri­sis, most cer­tainly the mid-life cri­sis, but three­quar­ter life cri­sis? Seems there isn’t a phase of our adult lives where a “cri­sis” isn’t lurk­ing around the next cor­ner wait­ing to frus­trate, scare, em­bar­rass or hum­ble us.

Just for the record, here’s a snap­shot of each cri­sis you may have yet to en­counter or maybe you’ve al­ready got the badges for all three:

Quar­ter life crises are a fairly re­cently la­belled phe­nom­e­non where 20-to 30-some­things fret about what to do with the rest of their lives.

You know the clichéd drill of the mid-life cri­sis. Fortysome­thing, fol­li­cally chal­lenged, ro­tund guy buys a Har­ley or a flashy Porsche while the fe­male ver­sion may re-en­act an Eat Pray Love sce­nario — off to find her­self do­ing med­i­ta­tion in Bali or In­dia.

The three-quar­ter life cri­sis is the one that’s re­ceived the least amount of at­ten­tion, but no doubt those self-ab­sorbed baby boomers will make sure it gets its due in the next few years as a record num­ber of Cana­di­ans sail into their “golden” years.

But will they sail through with­out a bit of angst and in­de­ci­sion? Some will, some won’t.

That’s how me, 52, and my hus­band, Doug, 61, ended up in the big comfy chairs in the of­fice of Rhonda Zabrod­ski, a Cal­gary coun­sel­lor who helps peo­ple like us cut through life’s com­pli­ca­tions.

Call­ing our sit­u­a­tion a cri­sis would be an ex­ag­ger­a­tion, but that doesn’t make it any less im­por­tant, say the ex­perts.

It’s more of a case of on­go­ing in­de­ci­sion about what we’re go­ing to do with the next 20 or so years of our lives — if our knees, money and gen­eral health hold out. We know we still have to work for a num­ber of years, or will we join the mil­lions of boomers who refuse to budge from the work­force? Yet another de­ci­sion.

Should we cash out with Cal­gary’s gen­er­ous hous­ing prices on our side, move to be closer to fam­ily and grand­chil­dren or hit the road and be­come vagabonds for a time be­fore we can’t do it any­more?

It’s been cause for some great dis­cus­sions in our house and with friends over wine — or mar­ti­nis for the more ex­is­ten­tial ques­tions.

Why all the angst? Zabrod­ski says we’re col­lec­tively spoiled as a so­ci­ety. “I think we have the lux­ury of more choices,” she says.

Bar­ring that all is well in the mar­riage, Zabrod­ski says, “It’s kind of a cool time ... but it can be a chal­lenge to man­age in the three-quar­ter stage. We need to ne­go­ti­ate where we want to go.”

That’s a part of our prob­lem. One of us is ready to down­size and travel, the other is think­ing of putting down roots to be closer to grand­chil­dren.

But there’s more to the dilemma than just “what should we do next?” says Dan McKin­non, a Cal­gary psy­chol­o­gist who spe­cial­izes in “ex­is­ten­tial” is­sues for the bi­fo­cal set and help­ing peo­ple who are “stuck get un­stuck.” He says this may very well be the most chal­leng­ing of all the life crises.

McKin­non points to pi­o­neer­ing psy­chol­o­gist Erik Erick­son’s Eight Stages of Psy­choso­cial De­vel­op­ment, whose the­ory at­tempts to ex­plain con­flicts of ev­ery age and stage.

Sounds like Doug and I are in lock-step with the eight steps.

In Erick­son’s model the sec­ond last of the eight stages is gen­er­a­tiv­ity vs. stag­na­tion. Gen­er­a­tiv­ity is about leav­ing a legacy — the per­son who wants to be closer to their grand­chil­dren. Whereas, the urge to down­size and travel could fall into the in­tegrity vs. de­spair cat­e­gory. “Did we live the life we wanted? Has it been filled with authen­tic­ity?” McKin­non says.

Un­like the two pre­vi­ous quar­ter-life and mid-life crises, this one has added com­pli­ca­tions.

“There is an ur­gency. Even though we have a quar­ter left, it’s not like hav­ing three-quar­ters left.”

McKin­non says, many of us are think­ing: “The ceil­ing of life is get­ting closer so I bet­ter get busy and find what’s mean­ing­ful for my­self.”

It’s like déjà vu, he says. “We be­come like teenagers again — ask­ing philo­soph­i­cal ques­tions.”

Ex­cept with another added com­pli­ca­tion. Less hair, more wrin­kles, a few ex­tra pounds and creaky joints.

Though many boomers will live longer, the speed at which the sand is run­ning through the hour­glass is the crux of the three­quar­ter-life cri­sis. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Even though med­i­cal sci­ence says many of us in our 50s and 60s could live for another 20 or even 30 years, it seems like not enough.

Lee Ann Wise­man, a re­tired nurse, feels that pres­sure.

“It came into fo­cus when I turned 60. When I re­al­ized that, as much as no­body wants to ad­mit it, you’re on the back nine. Look­ing down the road, where do I want to be?”

For some peo­ple that may beg the ques­tion “what have I done with my life” any­way, which is of­ten not with­out a tinge or a ton of re­gret.

Not for Wise­man, who had a ful­fill­ing nurs­ing ca­reer. She’s not look­ing back, only for­ward. “When else do you get to in­dulge your­self in what you want to do? It’s my time. When else are you go­ing to get your time to do what works best for you.”

The angst is in find­ing the right lo­ca­tion and mak­ing sure you’re com­fort­able. And, it will un­fold.”

And, that’s ex­actly what Zabrod­ski said to us at the end of our ap­point­ment. In a word, what will be, will be and when the time comes you’ll make the right de­ci­sion.

IS A WRITER. TWIT­TER LISAMONFORTON

FREE­LANCE HER ON

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