Finding Your Second Mountain in Midlife | Andrew May

Is Your Second Mountain Calling You in Midlife?

Have you reached a crossroads in your life? 

Are you feeling called towards a new direction, one that requires soul searching, reflection, and a pivot?

Have you done in life what you set out to do: Establish a career, start a family, accumulate wealth, climb the ladder, build relationships, establish yourself in this world? Have you reached a point where you are successful, but not satisfied?   

Perhaps you are seeking your second mountain.

  Objectives Approach Ways of Being Activities
First Mountain
Age: Early adulthood – Middle Age
Find professional success
Be well thought of
Integrate into the right social circles
Find happiness (victories for self)
You conquer your first mountain Ambitious
Separate from parents
Cultivate talents
Build a secure ego
Make a mark in the world
Be successful
Well thought of
Get invited into the right social circles
Experience personal happiness
Second Mountain
Ages: Midlife (40-50s)+
Lose the self; access the heart and soul
Make contributions to causes and people
Be of service
Find joy (connection with and celebration for others)
You surrender to your second mountain Relational
Commitments to serve others through:
A vocation
A spouse and family
A philosophy or faith
A community

According to David Brooks in his New York Times bestseller The Second Mountain, climbing your second mountain is about establishing your sense of self.

We all climb similar first mountains: It starts when we separate from our parents, build our career, perhaps take on a life partner, and make our mark in the world.  The first mountain is all about the self and the ego, and it often takes us until midlife before we stop and look back to reflect.   

Three possible outcomes can result from our first-mountain ascent:  

  1. We nailed it. We are on our way, and all is well. We’ve found our calling, and it’s full speed ahead.  
  2. We get derailed in our climb. Our career progression is interrupted (we get fired, our company goes under), or a life event hits like a storm (divorce, heart attack, disease). 
  3. We are successful, but not satisfied. We do everything we set out to do.  We build the career, make lots of money, are well regarded, go to the right parties, have lots of Facebook-friendly family pics…and it’s still not enough. 

For those in group one, more power to them. It’s a small group. Most of us fall in groups two and three. And for us, there is a season of suffering — a valley. In an essay for, writer Ada Calhoun explains how many women in their 30s and 40s feel adrift.   

“You come to this place, midlife. You don’t know how you got here, but suddenly you’re staring 50 in the face. When you turn and look back down the years, you glimpse the ghosts of other lives you might have led. All your houses are haunted by the person you might have been.”

— Ada Calhoun The New Midlife Crisis on

Those in groups two and three are yearning for their second mountain.   

Your second mountain is about tapping into your heart and soul, defining your purpose, committing to something (or some things) bigger than yourself and giving yourself away. You fall in love with someone or something — a cause or an idea — and you dedicate yourself to it.   

Generally, second-mountain commitments fall into one of four areas:

  • A vocation
  • A spouse or family
  • A philosophy or faith
  • A community

In essence, you commit to serving others. 

How do you emerge from the valley? How do you find your second mountain?   

You start by defining what’s most important. Questions to explore: 

  • What did I love as a child? 
  • What are my values? 
  • When in my life did I feel most alive? 
  • What is my perfectly written novel (e.g., what is the story of my life to this point?)   
  • What are the inner voices telling me I’m not good enough, and how do I quiet them? 
  • What is my wiser older self (my sage) calling me to do?  

When you can answer these and other questions, you connect dots, remove barriers, link to purpose, and build long-term strategies and short-term actions so that you are creating your life, and defining your future. You are positioning yourself to experience purpose, intention, meaning, connection, and joy.   

You are beginning to climb your second mountain.  

I know what it’s like to be in the valley. There is loneliness in the valley.  Each day feels the same — rudderless, repetitive, like the movie Groundhog Day. Going to work is the same as doing the dishes. You are checking boxes.   

I also know what it’s like to emerge from the valley with purpose. Activities tie to values. You sleep better, wake up with intention, laugh more. Joy results from less focus on self and more service to others. 

Does this sound like you?

Do you feel proud of the career you’ve created, but now feel trapped by your choices and lifestyle?

Do you get up and do the same things every day and wonder why you’re doing them to begin with?

Are you at the midpoint of your life, where something’s got to give?

Do you put on a good face at work and in social settings?

Do you wish you could stop being driven by the expectations of your ego and instead be guided by the calling of your soul?

If you’re ready to eliminate the stress, tap into your energetic self, and win in your work and life, reach out to learn more through a free 45-minute discovery call.

Is it time?

Whether you're in your 40s, 50s, 60s, or beyond, this is a time to SCORE your fulfillment.


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