Five Elements to guide you to live with deeper meaning and a sense of purpose.

‘What am I meant to do with my life?’ is the existential question most of us wrestle with at one point or another as we evolve from one life stage to the next. It’s also a question that rings louder in the midlife transition and what I explore in this article.

It focuses on five key points:

  1. Define generativity versus stagnation, the conflict that characterises the midlife experience.
  2. What it means to thrive on purpose in midlife.
  3. How to distinguish between creating realistic change or magical transformation in midlife.
  4. Practical ways to uncover your innate strengths, passions, natural abilities and sense of purpose to flourish or thrive in midlife.
  5. What outcomes to expect when you live a life aligned with a deeper sense of purpose?

Generativity Versus Stagnation

Psychologist, Erik Erikson, proposes that midlifers face two choices in the seventh lifespan stage – generativity or stagnation.

Generative midlifers are those who strive towards self-actualisation. In contrast, stagnation relates to feeling disillusioned with life, and disconnected and uninvolved with the world and communities that surround you.

What Does it Mean to Thrive on Purpose in Midlife?

The tagline for this website is to thrive on purpose in midlife. But what exactly does it mean to thrive on purpose in midlife?

On the one hand, it’s said that we have the freedom to be anything we want. Also, that we are born with unique abilities, innate gifts and strengths to contribute to the world in meaningful ways.

On the other hand, it’s said that our dreams and choices are limited by social, environmental, cultural, and biological realities. These factors influence what we believe about ourselves, and the ability to achieve what’s realistically possible for us in this world.

How do you reconcile the two?

How to Distinguish Between Realistic Change versus Magical Transformation in Midlife

An article in Harvard Business Review discusses two opposing views about midlife change and shifts in jobs or careers. The first view positions midlife as a period marked by the onset of decline. The other view midlife as a time of magical transformation. 

Realistic, achievable transformation is found somewhere between the two.

The article focuses on individuals in existing jobs or careers seeking deeper job fulfilment to approach making changes realistically. 

Successful life or career change is possible based on soberly evaluating one’s existing skills, abilities, work experience and life interests. Then, aligning these elements with realistic outcomes for a life better attuned with the outcomes you desire.

How to Cultivate a Flourishing Life

  1. A flourishing life involves having clear intentions about what ‘flourish’ means for you.
  2. A flourishing life is grounded in understanding your unique personality, quirks and behaviours and embracing your whole self.
  3. A flourishing life is underpinned by your core values, innate strengths, and natural abilities.
  4. A flourishing life realistically harnesses all the above elements with your wisdom, life experience, skills, and resources to live a fully expressed life that fits your unique life context.

Practical Ways to Uncover Your Core Values, Innate Strengths, Natural Abilities, and Passions to Flourish and Thrive in Midlife

How do you craft a life that thrives on purpose if you don’t know what your values, innate strengths, natural abilities, and passions are? Or, what’s realistically possible for you to achieve?

Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.’


In an earlier post, I explored the importance of filtering through the voices scrambling to impose identities on you that don’t fit your true nature. That’s because the voices we listen to can set us on a path to achieve our full potential or not.

In the book, Let Your Life Speak, Parker J. Palmer writes that one of the ways our inner selves can direct our generative expressions is by noticing our actions and reactions, our intuitions, and instincts when we engage in any activity.

Specifically, to notice when you are drawn to certain experiences and interests and repelled by others. Learning to read your responses to your experiences can offer helpful clues to make informed choices about work, careers, or relationships.

How to Combat Fear When Pursuing a Life that Thrives on Purpose

Palmer maintains that we all have places of fear inside us. It’s the mind’s natural way to protect us from failure, shame, or disappointment and because of that fear will always be part of our journeys. I call these goal gremlins and monsters that live in the dark. The secret to slaying these monsters and gremlins lies in uncovering their biggest fear – light! They can only survive and keep us stuck if we keep them in the dark. When you voice them and challenge how truthful and valid, they are, they suddenly shrink in size and power.

Often, our fears of the unknown outweigh the unexpected possibilities we can achieve if we choose to move through those fears.

Palmer emphasises that we also have other places like trust, hope, and faith. We can choose to pursue a meaningful and purposeful life. Particularly when we approach our dreams and goals from such a place of promise instead of letting fears and uncertainty hold us back.

What Outcomes to Expect When You Live a Life Aligned with a Deeper Sense of Purpose

I’ve been on the midlife journey for over seven years learning how to break free from unhelpful beliefs and views. that caused me to dread and fear this new life chapter instead of embracing midlife. I captured the key insights in a Midlife Roadmap with six guideposts that helped me to:

  • Challenge and reframe negative views I’d internalised about ageing and dreading midlife.
  • Adjust to a shifting parenting role as my children gained independence.
  • Challenge my fractured self-concept and reclaim my innate worth, strengths, and personal power to create a life of deeper personal meaning.
  • Break free of self-limited thinking and shift the belief that my voice doesn’t matter due to my marginalised social background.
  • Dispel the belief that I wasn’t smart or capable, or young enough to pursue further studies later in life.
  • Develop my inherent gifts, natural abilities, skills, and passions to realistically pivot my career towards work better aligned with my deeper life interests and passions.
  • Challenge and reframe unhelpful beliefs that kept me stuck in dysfunctional behaviours and relationships without clear, healthy boundaries.
  • Embrace midlife and thrive on purpose in this powerful new life chapter.

No two journeys can be the same. That’s because our lives are framed by far too many distinct factors and contexts that make our life stories so unique. I trust that sharing these guideposts will help other midlifers overcome their goal gremlins. And uncover their innate strengths and resources to thrive on purpose in the midlife journey.

Additional Support

Do you need more support to help you explore how to thrive on purpose in your midlife journey? The Midlife Roadmap: Six Guideposts to Thrive on Purpose in Midlife is a self-paced, flexible e-course that aims to ease midlifers through the transition to a new life season. It is a step-by-step guide and includes practical tools to explore themes such as living with purpose. It will help shift feelings of fear and dread about ageing along with insecurity and unhelpful social conformity to empowered living.

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