Business psychology

What is the ideal time of life to make lasting personal change? Here’s what research tells us

- December 9, 2021 4 MIN READ
change is essential to growth

Making lasting personal change is hard. As a result, people often overestimate their readiness for deep change and frequently miscalculate the costs involved, writes life coach, Jaemin Frazer.

Based on over 10,000 hours coaching those looking to improve the quality of their life in one way or another, it is clearly apparent that certain conditions increase readiness for change.

Age and the readiness for change

Interestingly, one of the most significant factors around this readiness is often a person’s age. In my experience, readiness and the capacity for lasting change peak at 40 years of age. Therefore, if there was a time in life most conducive to doing this deep change work, it is somewhere around 35-45 years old.

the personal change bell curve

Source: Unhindered – The seven essential practices for overcoming insecurity p.77

Admittedly, there are many variables at play and things that contribute to readiness that I have not explicitly examined, however, in my observation, statistically, 68 per cent of the population will be most ready for change within the 35-45 age bracket window.

Here are the 5 reasons why mid-life is the easiest time to face your fears, remove limiting beliefs and rewrite the story you are living out of.

1. The pain levels are just right

 Feeling a strong sense of pain about your situation is a key part of the motivation to make necessary change. This pain drives you to take control of your destiny and do something different.

Often the idealism of 20-year-olds mean they don’t have enough pain to make any meaningful change, and the pessimism of 60 year old leaves them with too much pain and so change is too daunting.

At 40 there is plenty of pain, but it is also mixed with hope. You know that time is running out but is not too late to make change.

2. You are ready to be wrong about stuff

 It turns out that being wrong is essential for growth and change. Best-selling author Mark Manson suggests that it’s worth remembering that for any change to happen, you must be wrong about something.

By the time you hit your mid 30’s life has beaten some of the idealism out of you while not turning you bitter and negative yet. The knocks and falls have given you humility and openness to learning. There is often a level of acceptance of the current reality rather than projection and fantasy about how they’d like things to be. You are ready to be wrong about a whole bunch of things you’ve always been closed and sure about. Being wrong opens you to explore alternatives that you would never consider when you think you are right.

3. You are more likely to know what you really want

An increased sense of clarity about what you want in life often starts with an aching awareness of what you don’t want. You’re ambitious to do something meaningful with your life before it’s too late. This again greatly increases the motivation and readiness for change.

Knowing what you really want is the essence of being an adult. Mid-life brings with it the realisation that life is too short to live based on what others want for you. Rather, it is time to set the course for your own life based on what is most important to you.

4. Emotional intelligence and maturity

 35-45 years in your own skin is a long time. It is likely that all this time being you has allowed you to observe what you are really like. There is more awareness about your inherent strengths and weaknesses and the patterns of behaviour that keep showing up despite your best efforts to change or eradicate them.

With this emotional intelligence comes the awareness that the major hindrances are all inside you in the form of doubts, fears and limiting beliefs rather than about what anyone else is doing or not doing. You realise that their biggest battle is inside your own heart and mind. It is not the external factors like lack of time, money, skills or support.

5. Cultural expectations and allowances

 During the mid-life years, culturally, we are allowed and almost expected, to make a few big changes. You are halfway through your working life and now is a good time to pivot into the next season. The term mid-life crisis is used to understand and justify all kinds of dramatic changes made in this season of life. Typically, we afford friends and family much more grace to change everything at 40 than we do at 25.

Obviously, you can change whenever you want, the point is that the further outside of the 35-45 window you find yourself when you decide you are ready for change, the harder the change process will be.

It is never too late to change your life until it is…

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