According to Brooks, the good life is often gained by subtraction rather than addition. He advocates we adopt a tool called the ‘reverse bucket list’ to figure out what commitments, stressors, and miscellaneous other junk we need to remove from our schedules and brains. Apparently, this process of pruning is key to avoiding a midlife crisis too.
Early in life, success usually comes from addition, i.e. more money, more responsibility, more relationships, more possessions. Life in early adulthood is like filling up an empty canvas. By midlife, however, that canvas is pretty full, and more brushstrokes make the painting worse, not better. We need to change our life objectives by stepping away from unnecessary duties and responsibilities and make more time to think, read and reconnect spiritually – the work we need to do to reengineer ourselves.
Related: How to Find Fulfilment by Taking a Step Down
While these two mindset shifts may seem easy enough in theory, we all know that focusing on the positive and saying no more often can actually be fiendishly difficult in real life. But we need to persist with these two mindset shifts.
Whether or not you opt for some formalised approach to grappling with middle age; the truth is that middle age will inevitably grapple with you. Knowing a bit of the psychology of how successful people transition away from youth and into a flourishing middle adulthood could help boost your peace of mind and maybe even your career.
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