Five Midlife Guideposts that Inspired this Blog to Help You Thrive in Midlife

‘By wisdom, a house is built, and through understanding, it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.’

PROVERBS 24:3-4

I love this beautiful scripture in Proverbs 24 that can be applied to the midlife season, and one that perfectly fits the focus of this blog – to thrive on purpose in midlife.

But what does it mean to thrive on purpose in midlife?

Research into the most common issues related to midlife reveals that this is a life season when adults refine their lives in various ways. Part of the refining involves turning inward to reflect on your life as a whole to notice how you’ve evolved and grown through earlier life seasons. Then, release what no longer fits and fill your life with the rare and beautiful treasures of a refined life better attuned to who you’re becoming.

Below are a list of common issues midlifers focus on that can be viewed as rare and beautiful treasures, such as building stronger relationships, achieving clearer life and health goals, learning new ways to handle stress, and assuming new, meaningful life roles as parents of adult children, becoming grandparents and enjoying quality time with ageing parents.

Common issues midlifers focus on

  • Achieve new heights in cognitive development,
  • Reevaluate personal goals,
  • Change certain behaviours,
  • Develop adult relationships with their children,
  • Ease into grandparenthood,
  • Deal with stress,
  • Contend with challenges in the way they learn,
  • Support ageing parents,
  • Maintain, pivot or taper down careers, and
  • Pay more attention to their physical health.

Developmental psychologist, Erik Erikson, classified midlife as the 6th of 7 life cycle stages. Erikson describes it as a crossroads or psychosocial crisis where midlifers choose between crafting a life of generativity versus stagnation. The crisis exists in a conflict between one’s physiological and psychological or spiritual needs.

Psychologist, Abraham Maslow offers us a simple, yet powerful pyramid he coined our hierarchy of needs. The base of the pyramid starts with non-negotiable, basic human needs for food, water, warmth and rest. The next tier includes a need for safety and security, then the following tier focuses on a need for love and belongingness found in our social relationships. The tier after that focuses on our need for esteem and respect, and the last tier Maslow calls self-actualisation – a fulfilment of our full potential and living a life of deeper meaning and purpose (see illustration below).


As this video explains, Maslow’s simple visual pyramid is a beautiful portrait of a life lived in harmony with the complexities of our multifaceted nature. But it’s important to view this pyramid in a flexible way, especially when comparing it to the tasks of midlife listed earlier. Our needs at any given time can shift and change, depending on our circumstances. At times we may focus on self-actualisation, and at other times a financial setback can threaten our basic physiological needs. Still, at other times, we may be dealing with personal growth issues or relationship breakdowns that cause us to fluctuate on the pyramid.

The midlife experience differs for midlifers from different walks of life. The way we experience midlife is influenced by our environment, our state of growth and physical and psychological wellbeing. It’s also impacted by the quality of our relationships, financial circumstances, and cultural and spiritual influences. For this reason, no two people’s midlife journeys will look exactly the same.

How does Maslow’s pyramid apply to the midlife season and this blog?

The Midlife Hours blog was inspired by five guideposts that framed my midlife journey. The five guideposts offered me a pathway to uncover my ‘deep gladness’ and how to express generativity. I delve into each of these in a series of blog posts and downloadable resources to support midlifers struggling with a sense of loss at the brink of this new life season. A full description of these guideposts is listed at the end of this article.

The guideposts align with the last tier of Maslow’s pyramid of needs. That is, to craft a midlife chapter based on wisdom, understanding and knowledge that will bring forth for you the rare and beautiful treasures of a deeply meaningful and generative midlife stage.

A scripture that captures the concept of generativity is found in Matthew 5, which references us as the light of the world:

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house – Matthew 5:14-15

Author, Parker Palmer, describes generativity as a life journey that can take you to the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger.

Deep gladness refers to your greatest passions and interests and finding specific ways to use your personality strengths, spiritual gifts, abilities, skills, education, work and life experience, and resources to express those passions and life interests in meaningful ways. In my understanding, the outcome of this is the ‘rare and beautiful treasures’ the introductory Proverbs scripture allude to.

The world’s deep hunger refers to the needs you see around you in the world. It can be any social cause, injustice, or specific lack you notice in your environment you feel drawn to change for the better.

While no two journeys may look the same, I hope that sharing these guideposts will spark curiosity and openness in other midlifers to explore their own journeys and embrace this new life stage to thrive on purpose in midlife.

Midlife is a natural part of the human life cycle that we cannot control but we can choose how we’ll respond to it. This life season presents us with a choice between stagnation and generativity. We can choose to simply exist through this season in a mundane existence or get swept up with the popularised midlife crisis. Or, we can choose to craft a ‘house filled with rare and beautiful treasures’. We all long to feel our best, most alive, and enjoy a meaningful life. Oscar Wilde captures this sentiment well in the quote below:

  • Awakening: Awaken to who you’ve become in the years you were too busy to notice. Explore how your life experiences shaped your growth and prepared you to thrive in this new life stage.
  • Self-Awareness: Grow deeper self-awareness and a fuller understanding of what makes you tick so that you can stay grounded and true to your innate self.
  • Self-Compassion: Embrace midlife in your life context, framed by your unique circumstances by focusing on compassionately shaping a life that matters most to you.
  • Freedom: Refine your life by reclaiming the essential parts of yourself that make you so beautifully distinctive that you discarded along the way to sway and conform to the tunes of a world that keeps shape-shifting around you.
  • Exploration: Gently explore ways to harness your strengths, abilities, skills, and interests to live your most meaningful life.

As you read the descriptions of the five midlife signposts above, can you identify your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger? Can you think of ways to close the gap between the two to let your light shine to bring hope, relief, or support to others in some small, or big way?

If yes, grab a journal and gently start exploring. The answers lie within you!

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