Early Midlife Crisis: Why It’s Normal and What to Do

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Last Updated on April 9, 2023 by Erin

Are you in your mid to late 30s and wondering if you might be having an early midlife crisis? You’re not alone! This post will help you understand the signs and how to navigate it. Find inspiration and encouragement for embracing change in adulthood.

early midlife crisis introspection in mirror
Photo by Vladimir Fedotov on Unsplash

Have you ever reached that point in your life where you realize you’re not quite old, but you’re definitely not young either? You’re smack dab in the middle.

Maybe you find yourself drawn to hobbies you never would have considered before, like bird watching, or gardening.

You catch yourself browsing job listings for positions that you’re wildly unqualified for or daydreaming about running away to a foreign country and starting a new life.

And maybe, you’re starting to question everything – your career, your relationships, your hairstyle.

Welcome to your early midlife crisis, my friend!

What is an early midlife crisis?

You’re in your late thirties or early forties, and suddenly everything feels a little… off.

It’s a time of questioning and uncertainty, where you’re not quite ready to embrace your inner “old person,” but you’re not exactly feeling spry and youthful either. Don’t worry, though – it’s all a perfectly normal part of aging.

Did you know that many of us experience a happiness curve? Around the time we turn 18, our happiness decreases until we reach a low point in our 40s, and then it starts to increase again.

That means there is hope on the horizon. That doesn’t mean we should settle for this midlife funk, though.

Our employment is very much linked to our happiness as an adult, so if we don’t love where we are at, we should do something about it! That might mean figuring out what you have control over and making some changes at work. It might mean you find a whole new career!

It’s important to note, however, that the definition of a midlife crisis can vary widely, and not everyone who experiences a period of re-evaluation in midlife would necessarily describe it as a “crisis.”

My Early Midlife Crisis

I personally started experiencing my early midlife crisis around age 35. The feeling of being “stuck” was very pervasive. It took me several years before I made the big decision to leave my job and forge a new path.

Once I did, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I became excited about the future again.

I embraced my gray hair and grew it out. As a birthday present to myself, I got my college nose piercing redone. I started a blog to document my journey.

Calling it a midlife “crisis” doesn’t really describe what I’m going through. It’s more like an early midlife transformation. And I love it!

Why Are the Signs of an Early Midlife Crisis

While there is no universal set of symptoms that define an early midlife crisis, here are some general signs that may indicate that someone is experiencing this type of transition between the ages of 35 and 40:

  1. Questioning life choices
  2. Feelings of restlessness or dissatisfaction
  3. Increased focus on personal appearance
  4. Taking up new hobbies or interests
  5. Changes in sleep patterns

These are pretty typical for a midlife funk. If you develop some healthy coping strategies and work on maintaining a positive mindset, you can come out the other side better than you were before.

However, if you don’t develop healthy coping strategies, your midlife crisis signs might start looking like reckless behavior and substance abuse. Definitely don’t go down that road. Take care of yourself!

Differences in Midlife Crisis Experiences

An early midlife crisis can manifest itself differently for different people, as everyone’s experiences and personalities are unique.

Some of us might focus more on external factors, such as changing our appearance, job, or lifestyle. Others might focus more on internal factors, such as emotional well-being or personal growth.

For some people, an early midlife crisis may be a minor disruption in their lives and for others it may be a more significant upheaval that everything.

Some people may experience a brief period of questioning and introspection, while others may experience a more prolonged and intense crisis that lasts for several years.

Coping Strategies for an Early Midlife Crisis

Here are some healthy coping strategies that can help individuals navigate a midlife crisis:

  1. Practice self-care: Taking care of oneself is essential during a midlife crisis. This includes eating healthy, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and engaging in activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. Need some more ideas? Check out this list.
  2. Connect with others: Building and maintaining supportive relationships with family, friends, and/or a therapist can provide a sense of comfort and help alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness.
  3. Seek professional help: Consulting with a mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor, can provide a safe and confidential space to explore feelings and concerns, and to develop coping strategies for managing stress and anxiety.
  4. Pursue new interests: Trying out new activities, hobbies, or interests can help to bring a sense of novelty and excitement to life, and can help individuals feel more engaged and fulfilled.
  5. Practice gratitude: Focusing on the positive aspects of life, and expressing gratitude for the good things can help individuals to shift their perspective and to develop a more positive outlook on life. Try a 30-day challenge to get in the groove.
  6. Set realistic goals: Setting achievable goals, both short-term and long-term, can help individuals to feel a sense of purpose and direction, and to work towards the fulfillment of their desires and aspirations.
  7. Embrace change: Accepting and embracing change as a natural part of life can help individuals to feel more resilient and adaptable, and to develop a greater sense of control over their lives.

I have written a few related posts you will want to check out:

How to Deal with a Midlife Crisis

Self-Care for Midlife Women

How to Get Out of a Midlife Funk

Embracing Change as a Midlife Adult

Let’s face it, change can be scary, especially in early midlife. You’re already dealing with the realization that you’re not as young as you used to be, and suddenly everything around you seems to be changing too!

But here’s the thing, change can also be exciting and empowering. It’s like a breath of fresh air, blowing away the cobwebs and allowing you to embrace new opportunities and experiences.

So instead of clinging to the past and resisting change, why not take a deep breath and lean into it? Who knows, you might just discover a whole new side of yourself that you never knew existed!

Examples of Successful Midlife Transformations

Want some inspiration for a midlife change? These are some pretty extreme examples, but they do show it’s absolutely possible!

After working in finance for a few years, Jeff Bezos left his job to start an online bookstore called Amazon. Today, Amazon is one of the largest and most successful companies in the world.

After working in government intelligence during World War II, Julia Child took up cooking and eventually became a famous chef and author, introducing French cuisine to the American public.

Vera Wang transitioned to designing wedding gowns after a career as a figure skater and fashion edit. She has since become one of the most well-known and respected bridal designers in the world.

Oprah Winfrey transitioned to hosting her own talk show, which eventually became one of the most popular and influential shows on television. She has since become a successful media mogul and philanthropist.

After experiencing several personal setbacks and struggling to make ends meet, J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series, which became a global phenomenon and made her one of the wealthiest authors in the world.

These examples show that a period of reflection in early midlife can lead to successful career changes and personal transformations. By taking the time to explore what you really want out of life, you can forge a whole new path!

I created a 28-page self-assessment workbook to help my readers feel better prepared for a possible career change. You can access it for free HERE. It can help you identify your skills, values, and interests.

midlife career change workbook

Final Thoughts on an Early Midlife Crisis

You’re not alone, my friend. In fact, you’re in good company! Some of the greatest minds and most successful people in history have gone through this very same thing.

So don’t be too hard on yourself. Take a deep breath, give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far, and get ready to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead.

Who knows what amazing things you’ll discover about yourself and your passions during this period of introspection? It’s never too late to try something new. You never know where it might lead you. Remember, life is full of surprises, and the best is yet to come!


early midlife crisis signs and inspiration

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