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During a recent call in the men’s group / intensive coaching program I run, one of our community members wanted some guidance about the difference between a midlife crisis and a midlife transformation.

For many men, somewhere between 40-55 years old a tension appears in our bodies, hearts, and minds relating to where we’re at in life, and where we’re going. It’s an important milestone that is completely natural in the process of aging as death becomes something closer on the horizon.

There is, however, a choice about the consciousness we approach it with and that is what determines whether it’s a crisis or a transformation.

The difference in consciousness between the two is simple: in a mid-life crisis we think changing something about our external circumstances will relieve us of that growing tension in our hearts. We all know the cliches: remarrying a younger woman, getting a sports car, dying hair, etc.

A mid-life transformation, however, is different. It starts with our internal experience and turning toward that tension in our hearts, and letting the truth that we will die and won’t be able to accomplish everything we want in life guide us.

It is a conscious choice to do two very specific things, the first being to appreciate our life as it is in the moment, and the second being to get crystal clear what we need to be or do in our life to die free.

Step one starts with a simple question – “what if this was as good as it gets – can I appreciate my life exactly as it is right now?” This alone becomes a powerful practice of gratitude and becoming more present in the relationships and contexts we’re already living in life.

Step two then emerges from there, what do I need to create or experience in this life so that when my final exhale comes to pass I die relaxed and at peace and not in fear and regret. What needs to be said to the people most important to us? What gifts do I need to give to feel complete?

What type of presence must I cultivate to already live free moment to moment, no matter what’s happening on the outside of my life?

Whether it’s a crisis or transformation is your choice. You can try to shuffle things on the outside to numb the growing tension of death, or you can use that tension to guide you deeper in appreciating the moments you’re already in and to become clear what needs to happen in your life to die free.

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