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Is there an ideal age to make lasting personal change?

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

In my experience and based on over 10,000 hours coaching people looking to improve the quality of their life, it is clearly apparent that certain conditions increase readiness for change. Interestingly, one of the most significant factors around this readiness is often a person’s age.

Readiness for change can be represented in a bell curve with the peak at 40 years of age. This means that 68% of the population will be most ready for change within the 35-45 age bracket! Therefore, if there was a time where the conditions were most suitable for assisting lasting personal change, it is mid-life.

Here are the 5 reasons why the 35-45 window is the easiest time to face your fears, remove limiting beliefs and rewrite the story you are living out of:

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 20 year olds don’t have enough pain to cause any meaningful change, and 60 year olds perhaps have too much pain and so change feels impossible. 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. 

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. And being wrong opens you to explore alternatives that you would never consider when you think you are right.

You are more likely to know what you really want

An increased sense of increased 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.

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 the biggest battle is actually inside your own heart and mind. It is not the external factors like lack of time, money, skills or support.

Cultural expectations and allowances

During the mid-life years, culturally, we are allowed, and almost expected, to make a few big changes. You are half-way 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.

Jaemin is a renowned life coach, TEDx speaker and author of ‘Unhindered -The 7 essential practices for overcoming insecurity’. He is the founder of the Insecurity Project and specialises in helping entrepreneurs, leaders and business owners eradicate insecurity so they can show up to life unhindered by doubt, fear and self-limiting beliefs.  He is widely recognised as one of Australia’s best life coaches and a leading voice globally on the subject of personal insecurity. Find out more at jaeminfrazer.com.

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