The Mid-Life Course Correction


James Hollis, a Jungian analyst, argues that few of us are brought up to be adults. Instead, we are raised to be good children, and just when we begin to get the hang of it the game changes and we are supposed to be grown up.

Naturally, we don't know what we are doing. So we look around and try to imitate others or follow the instructions of parents, mentors, teachers, or bosses. And it works. We begin to succeed at a few things, we get respect, we may get money, and other people begin to think that we have it figured out.

But at some point you realize that you are no longer preparing for your life; this is IT. This is your life. And you are a good part of the way through it, far enough along to see your elder years on the horizon.

And that's often when we realize that something is missing. We dropped or cut away an essential part of ourselves in order to get where we are. And now we want it back. Without it, the lustre of the adulthood we have created is somehow diminished.

This event, this crisis, is both a challenge and an opportunity. Rather than indulging in a headlong retreat back to childhood (or adolescence), we can examine ourselves to find what talents, interests, or passions were left behind on the road to "respectability." And perhaps there is a way to incorporate these interests into our adulthood.

Sometimes this means a huge course correction. This is what happens when people leave their careers or communities to strike out in a completely new direction.

More often, it involves expanding our existing adult life to make room for all parts of ourselves. The lawyer who always wanted to be a rock star begins specializing in entertainment law. The accountant who loved classical music as a child becomes the financial manager of a symphony orchestra.

The Mid-Life Course Correction is not a set program with a specific number of sessions. It is an opportunity to explore who you have been in your life, who you are now, and what you want to add to become more of what you want to be.

With exercises, discussion, and self-imposed assignments, you work with a psychologist not simply to overcome mid-life anxiety, but to grow your life beyond it.