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Vulnerability in Midlife

Posted November 5, 2017 by

There are different ways to think about vulnerability in midlife. One is to focus on the physical and mental vulnerabilities that may come with age. That kind of thinking can make you old before your time. Another option is to choose to be vulnerable by purposefully moving out of your comfort zone and exploring other ways of being that are more fulfilling. That’s the first step to being an engaged, active, curious and interesting person, no matter what stage of life you’re in.

“You Start Off Irresistible”

Here’s an amusing quote about aging—something Leonard Cohen said while performing in concert in 2013, at age 79. I like it because it makes light of what might be a hard truth, and somehow makes it bearable:

“You know, I was talking with some of the guys…some of the guys in the band are kind of over the hill. And they were talking about the various stages that a man goes through in relation to his allure to the opposite sex. It was not a scientific evaluation…just something that arose over a cup of coffee.

“It went something like this: You start off irresistible. And then you become resistible. And then you become transparent—not exactly invisible, but as if you are seen through old plastic. Then you actually do become invisible. And then—and this is the most amazing transformation—you become repulsive. But that’s not the end of the story. After repulsive, then you become cute—and that’s where I am.”
Leonard Cohen, in concert at the Sydney Opera House, December 2, 2013

Of course, there’s a lot more to our personal allure than physicality, and this is true for women as well as men. For example, a great thing about Mr. Cohen is that while he aged, he never grew old. He was still performing and filling concert halls in his late 70s and writing and recording new music until his death in 2016 at age 82. To know how he evolved as a person, just listen to the progression of his music.

I use the quote because it’s so telling of what can happen in all aspects of our lives if we don’t continually reinvent ourselves. We become invisible by staying on one path and not exploring others. It shows in the rigidity of how we approach our relationships, our work and our free time.

It seems like there’s security in sticking to what we know. But what do you do if one person in a relationship outgrows the other and you find yourself broken-up and trying to start again in midlife? And what do you do when you become outmoded at work because you’re not a “digital native”—a new code word for people 35 and under? In these situations, you’re vulnerable to the actions of others. But if you choose to continually explore your own potentialities, then you’re in the driver’s seat.

Know Your Motivations – Own Your Future

Inside8 is a tool you can use to stay curious, engaged and fulfilled in life. We help people understand their motivations so they can do what’s most fulfilling to them, whether it’s in relationships, hobbies or work. You take a 22-question test and find out which of the eight groups you belong to, based on your motivations, behaviors and interests. Among other things, the report tells you how you relate to people in other groups, including the underlying drivers of why you’re compatible and how you might conflict.

Here are some examples of how the insight can be used to help you if you’re in midlife, examining your life and thinking about options for the future. One of our goals is to help you be less vulnerable when you’re taking chances to grow because you know yourself better. For example:

  • Primal Enterprisers® are likely to try new experiences, and are active, on-the-go people. They’re oriented towards change and engagement in life. Enterprisers like being coached and learning new things. In midlife, you can grow as a person by becoming a certified life coach—sharing the knowledge and experiences you’ve accumulated throughout life.
  • Primal Guardians® are social protectors. They care about friends, family and community. If you’re tired of the grind, or if you’ve been laid off, explore how you can apply your skills in service to others—working with an NGO, nonprofit or to advance a cause that is important to you.
  • Primal Harmonizers® seek balance in everything and find happiness and fulfillment in helping others. At their best, Harmonizers are great peacemakers. Looking for something engaging to do even as you grow older? How about going back to school and earning a certificate and credentials in negotiation? That field requires wisdom and experience.
  • Primal Holistics® are motivated by their ingenuity and creativity, and don’t need others to validate them. Holistics have the right stuff to create new things, so get started on writing that book, developing your art or bringing to life that invention that’s been simmering in the back of your mind.
  • Primal Ideators® are a lot like Holistics, but more focused on creating than executing their big ideas. Consider where your creative spark can make a difference. Is it partnering with an entrepreneur who is more detailed-oriented to launch a new business, or mentoring entrepreneurs who have joined a business accelerator and are looking for help?
  • Primal Individualists® value individuality over group membership, but also are committed to helping others. Looking to make new friends or expand your network? Which volunteer or community service groups could benefit from your skills—or help you learn new skills?
  • Primal Nourishers® tend to focus on their own physical and mental wellbeing and often have the knowledge and skills to help others in those areas. Is there a Little League team that needs coaching? A dance company that needs an instructor? What a great way to get out of your own head by sharing your passion, commitment and knowledge with those who are just starting out.
  • Primal Originators® are all about personal freedom and being creative and forward thinking. Many enjoy planning, including financial and estate planning. Ready for another career? If you haven’t already done so, consider becoming a certified financial planner. Fulfill your own motivations while helping others achieve a sense of personal freedom.

These are just a few ideas that show how knowing your motivations can lead to new and interesting places, even in midlife. They’re the kind of experiences that can expand your horizons and open the door to new relationships. Take the test and explore how “engaged and curious” can be the antidote to “invisible.”

Sean M

Sean Murphy is the founder of Inside8®. He has an M.A. in organizational psychology from Columbia University.

All stories by: Sean M

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INFORMATION WE COLLECT

Automatically Collected Device Information

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YOUR RIGHTS TO THE PERSONAL INFORMATION YOU PROVIDE

If you are a European resident, you have the right to access personal information we hold about you and to ask that your personal information be corrected, updated, or deleted. You also have the right, where technically feasible, to have Personal Information that you provided based solely on consent to be transferred to you. If you would like to exercise these rights (which you may do at any time) or inquire as to any additional rights you may have under applicable law, please contact us through the contact information below.  We will respond to any request as promptly as possible.

Additionally, if you are a European resident we note that we are processing your information in order to fulfill contracts we might have with you (for instance to fulfill an order), based on your express consent herein, or otherwise to pursue our legitimate business interests listed above. 

Finally, please note that your Personal Information will be transferred outside of Europe, including to the United States, where it is stored.  When we transfer your information to the U.S., we will protect it as described in this Privacy Policy.  We also are working to and have worked to incorporate appropriate safeguards such as standard contractual clauses with any third party processors identified herein.  We further will make best efforts to protect information from EU residents in accordance with applicable law.   

DATA RETENTION

When you purchase the Assessment through our Website or otherwise use our Services, we will maintain your Personal Information for our records unless and until you ask us to delete this information. We may also retain any anonymized and/or stripped data that is not personally identifiable for so long as we deem necessary for our research, analysis, and business planning purposes.  

MINORS

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CHANGES IN THIS POLICY

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CALIFORNIA PRIVACY RIGHTS

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Effective Date: August 14, 2018.

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