At a Crossroad in your life? Which doorway you choose will make all the difference…
Perhaps you, like most of us at mid-life, find yourself facing some significant and challenging change or threat to life as you’ve known it thus far.
Life crossroads, and how well we meet these times of upheaval are one of the most deadly dangerous — and one of the most potentially prosperous — times along the life long journey.
And I’ve experienced both: the deadly dangerous – and the powerfully prosperous sides of midlife changes.
I’d like to share some reflections and a calling of choice…
I’ve been a financial adviser for the bulk of my adult career – and I’m hitting 60 next year – which is “impossible” – but true.
Also “impossible but true: I am in better physical shape, more optimistically vital, and more deeply engaged in relationship with friends and clients than at any other earlier time in my life! I want to say something about aging as a doorway to an entirely new conscious affair with one’s body, one’s career, and one’s relationship to money…
At almost 60 I am just hitting my stride as a vision-driven entrepreneur who has discovered the remarkable gift of becoming more relational – that is, more engaged in the lives and dreams of my clients, friends and family. Maybe it’s “that dreaded man-o-pause” hormone shift thing. Who knows…
What I do know from observing and working on myself; from working with my wife and her private individual and couples spiritual lifework; and serving my own financial clients (many at midlife transition seeking a secure investment plan for retirement) — is this: people hit midlife and tend to go in one of 3 directions…
- One direction is to deny any change and apply as many midlife crisis band-aids as possible to keep up the appearance of life as usual. This is probably the most common first attempt: Trying to keep up a good appearance and hope it will all just go away, and life will continue as before…
- Another and second path taken when midlife challenges set in, is to collapse into a fear-based “woulda shoulda” analysis paralysis. This doorway is one of falling into despair where there is no hope or idea about how to create a new scenario for growth, vision and vitality. When we stumble into this second doorway and stay there, we grow old before our time and cave into distractions, addictions, and an “it’s too late, I’m over the hill” defeat. Sad…
- Then there is what I call Doorway #3: those who somehow use the same life challenges and changes toward finding a new path and a new more integrated playing field – one that consolidates all the earlier experiences, failures, and triumphs into a whole new integrated and empowered path of purpose. .
- ..I don’t know what percent make this choice, but I do know it’s not common. I also know that this is why I am in the business I am in: To help those who would take this path know how to find and enter it!
Here’s what’s interesting: None of these 3 ways is easy.
Each of the 3 doorways facing us at a midlife challenge has it’s own specific kinds of pain and confusion when trying to set up a secure life plan for protecting one’s future.
Each of the 3 attitude choices: Status Quo Denial; Fearful Analysis Paralysis; or Breakthrough Self-Mastery, will require facing the difficult questions that call for change.
The key difference is how these similar conditions are faced: And how they are faced creates all the difference…
The Personal and Financial Consequences of Choice:
Take a look with me. See where you are. See what choices you are making and what better choice you may be called to step into if you are to truly live your life fully:
Consequences of Denial & Doorway #1:
While trying to keep the status quo by “keep on keeping on” may feel nobly-inspired, it can only offer a short-lived value by virtue of the fact that it is a façade.
Eventually the “smoke and mirroring” of this first Doorway choice will crumble and evaporate at the seams.
Eventually, our denial of changing circumstances, is unsustainable… (just like a “comb over” is unsustainable, and why I just went for the bald look…But that’s another story.)
Here’s the thing with doggedly trying to maintain the Status Quo when circumstances have changed:
When we deny or fail to truly meet change as the upheaval that it is, we eventually suffer the consequences: exhaustion in holding onto false appearances; loss of respect (especially our own); and the big loss of finding and owning our maturing true wisdom.
Here’s some common financial attitudes and consequences of Doorway #1:
- People who take this first tactic of denial, tend to avoid discussing or reviewing their finances – preferring to declare that they are happy where they are.
- These people tend to over-estimate their financial strength and exude a kind of confidence that is un examined.
- The result is usually either an under-endowed financial plan or a reckless one that will not sustain their longer range requirements.
Consequences of Paralysis & Doorway #2
The second doorway often taken when midlife challenges enter our lives is to cave in, give up, live from the past, or just settle into an almost dogmatic resigned acceptance of old age.
I’ve noticed that people who take this path tend to create a second half of life that has a quality of bored, self-absorption at best (often surrounding one’s health concerns) or, a brittle bitterness toward life, at worse.
Please! I’m truly not suggesting that the many difficult midlife struggles and health concerns are not reaI – They’re often both very real and very really frightening and overwhelming! Been there too.
It’s a challenging trap not to fall into Doorway #2.
What I am suggesting here is this: How one responds to these very real challenges is the main KEY predicting one’s overall renewal, well-being, and true prosperity.
We all know or see people who at times of radical life change or crisis, fall into giving up and a kind of despairing self-doubt, confusion, and paralysis. Hell I’ve done it too.
But some stay here and make a new identify out of this state of being. These are the people who take on a kind of early acquittal toward life. They tend to make comments about being old, having senior moments and otherwise winding down. Nothing wrong with a little senior moment joking around, but when it becomes a way of over-coping with the challenges of midlife change, it can have some really dire consequences — both emotionally and financially…
Here are some common financial behaviors of those who choose Doorway #2:
- They “grow old too soon” by opting for this second path of analysis paralysis.
- They tend to be too afraid (or too tired and worn down) to truly look at their long-term financial needs against their current spending styles and needs.
- They tend to exude a “minimized, stay put existence” and not really take stock in what this second phase of life might be offering nor what the next phase of their life will require.
- They tend to take a “let my investment adviser just handle my money management – they know best anyway” kind of attitude. Hands off, eyes closed. Probably an OK investment portfolio. Very likely not a very personally optimized or informed one! Certainly not one that can well navigate daily life shifts.
But here’s the thing:
- No one teaches us about entering midlife challenges – i.e., endings of career, divorces, aging parents, health threats, questions of financial security into retirement etc.
- No one teaches us about meeting these mid-life challenges and difficult life transitions as a natural developmental process of maturing into a whole new level of conscious authenticity and empowered purpose.
- I didn’t always know how to navigate these seas of change either. But over the past decade or so, having deeply studied and practiced the skill-sets of conscious self-growth and honest introspection offers a tremendous ability I am now endowed to offer my clients. In fact, I dare say that this level of conscious financial investing makes all the difference in the world to my clients.
Today when I meet with my financial clients – many, if not most of whom, are high net worth individuals suddenly facing one or more very difficult and confusing midlife periods in life as marked by significant health concerns, relationship endings and losses, retirement concerns, questions of meaning, etc., — I am excited as Hell! In fact sometimes, the more confused, worried or paralyzed my new prospective client, the more excited I become…
because I know for certain that life at these times of difficult transitions are calling cards inviting that person into the next playing field of self-mastery.
Life Crossroads are invitations to finding and deciding to go through Doorway #3 – the discovery of one’s own next level of mature wisdom and empowered purpose and passion… This is real wealth.
This third path requires stepping out of the Doorway of denial or the the odd comfort zone of closing down and giving up in Doorway 2.
This third Doorway: i.e., seeking a new way of seeing things during times of change, challenge and discomfort – is a GAME-CHANGER par exellance!
Selecting to go through Doorway #3 in at times of significant (often deeply threatening life challenges) takes inner work and inner courage in the face of many budding unknowns and potential losses. It is a path of renewal from the cinders of what is being lost or let go. Not easy.
That’s why denial or giving in and growing old before our time are the two more likely and unconscious default reactions …unless we have assistance for choosing “the road less followed” where we can uncover renewal and a whole new meaning in the second half of our life.
Consequences of Renewal & Choosing Doorway #3:
- People who elect to take Doorway #3 will be willing to really look at their financial life – their spending patterns, and their unconscious beliefs around money.
- They are willing to get a true picture of what they will need for retirement and how they can integrate this with their current life desires and lifestyle sense of daily enrichment.
- In short: they are able to become poised and re-positioned for entering into a financial investment and money management process that is engaged with their everyday living.
- They “feel the fear and do it anyway” because they are committed to the art of using and redirecting fear and change into the service of a higher self-mastery and vision for a life well lived – be it a gentle and unassuming life of peace, or a whole new second half of life visionary legacy.
This third path requires an entirely new emergent leap of perception and realization of self. It is scary because it flies in the face of current threats and dares us to trust a next level of becoming…
The payoff for having the courage to choose Doorway #3 is HUGE!
It is this doorway to which my life work as a financial adviser is dedicated and in service to those clients who are often called by crisis and change to enter into a whole new level of life-renewal and self-mastery. It’s a very inspiring (and inspired) team approach to money management.
Doorway #3 requires a special and unique level of financial investment and money management – one where adviser and client work in a personally-engaged relationship; one where dreams are shared, vision is discussed, and both small and large financial choices are considered within the framework of a “big picture/eyes wide open” financial investment management GPS protocol.
Relationship with a financial adviser on this high end level of self-mastery, is not harder to do – it’s simply more engaging, more holistic, more integrated, and more flexibly aligned to living in the present while charting a visionary future. It’s an awesome and powerful wealth-building partnership.
I would like to offer to meet you here at the gates of midlife change. It’s not an easy time of life. It is my challenge to you to enter Doorway #3: The path of consciously protecting, charting, and directly experiencing your living legacy and true financial well being in every day real life…
Mattawe P. Clements, RIA is founder/CEO of Clements Investment Management, Inc., – a seasoned assets management firm that specializes in clients during life transitions who seek a fully engaged process of financial empowerment and vision.