Millennials in Midlife Crisis | Bernie Borges | Midlife Fulfilled Podcast

Ep 186 Millennials Redefine Midlife Crisis and the Road to Fulfillment

64% of millennials have experienced a life crisis. Midlife crises can occur in our 30s, 40s or 50s. What we all have in common is the desire to thrive.

In this ‘On My Mind’ episode, I delve into findings from a recent report published by The Thriving Center of Psychology titled Millennials in Crisis.

Here are three key points and my takeaway:

1️⃣ Millennials Struggle with Midlife: The report from the Thriving Center of Psychology revealed that 64% of millennials have experienced a life crisis, with 39% experiencing one in 2024. In my view, this high percentage indicates the significant pressure and high expectations millennials feel.

2️⃣ Perceptions of Midlife: The report highlighted that 1 in 10 millennials reported experiencing a midlife crisis around age 34, and 81% believe they can’t afford a midlife crisis, with 58% feeling they don’t have time for one. This challenges the traditional perception of a midlife crisis occurring in your 40s or 50s.

3️⃣ Overcoming Midlife Challenges: The report emphasizes that a midlife crisis can lead to positive personal growth with a good support system. Seeking help from family, friends, and therapists during challenging times can make a positive difference.

In this episode, I share a personal experience where I realized the increasing responsibilities and pressures that come with adulting when I was in my thirties. This personal insight leads me to believe that midlife seasons could begin in our thirties, despite not considering to be in midlife in this age range. My experience is corroborated by the Millennials in Crisis report, supporting my thesis that our midlife challenges begin at an earlier age than traditionally considered.

My main takeaway is that midlife challenges and crises can occur in our 30s, 40s or 50s. What we all have in common is the desire to thrive.

Report from The Thriving Center of Psychology: Millennials in Crisis


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Episode Transcript

Bernie Borges [00:00:00]:
Hey there. Welcome to episode 186. This is an on my mind episode, and here’s what’s on my mind. You know, as much as I don’t like it, the most popular topic about midlife is midlife crisis. I don’t like this topic because it’s mostly negative. And hey, I am all about thriving. If you’ve been listening to the Midlife Fulfill podcast for a while, you know that my tagline for the podcast is, this is the show for men and women over 40 who say no to a midlife crisis and want to thrive across the 5 pillars of Midlife, health, fitness, career, relationships, and legacy. I want you to thrive.

Bernie Borges [00:00:44]:
And if you have or are experiencing something that resembles a midlife crisis, my goal is to be a resource to enable you to thrive. Now I recently came across a report from the Thriving Center of Psychology. On April 16, 2024, they published a blog post summarizing their findings. The title of this blog post is Millennials in Crisis, 81 Percent Can’t Afford a Midlife Crisis. The blog post that summarizes this report is linked up in the show notes, and I suggest that you go read it for yourself. Now, this episode is not sponsored by the Thriving Center of Psychology. I haven’t been in contact with anyone there, and their blog post is in the public domain. So I’m sharing some of their key findings and my thoughts or takeaways from my perspective as a midlife advocate.

Bernie Borges [00:01:42]:
I’ll begin by sharing their source of findings. Thriving Center of Psychology conducted a survey, which involved over 1,000 millennials, aged 28 to 43. Now as you know, I just completed my midlife survey of people over age 40. So this approach to gaining insights from a cohort of people really hits home for me. So let’s begin with reviewing the definition of a millennial. Millennials are people born between 1981 and 1996, which makes their age range between 28 43 years old in 2024. The report blog post opens with this question. What is a life crisis? They define a life crisis as a period of significant anxiety and uncertainty about one’s direction in life.

Bernie Borges [00:02:38]:
And, the report highlights that 64% of millennials have experienced a life crisis, with 39% experiencing 1 in 2024. Now 64%, that is a high percentage. My take on this is that this cohort feels a lot of pressure. If you had asked me to speculate what percentage of millennials experienced a life crisis, I would have speculated in the maybe 30, maybe 40 percent range on the high end. The fact that it’s 64% tells me that they’re struggling, and they’re struggling with high expectations that are placed on them. In fact, that is borne out in some of the other findings that are in this report. Now, in my midlife survey, I didn’t ask survey takers if they had a midlife crisis. Instead, I asked how fulfilled they are in each of the 5 pillars.

Bernie Borges [00:03:33]:
I asked this question for each pillar, for health, for fitness, career, relationships, and legacy. In other words, I ask this question 5 ways. And when my report publishes later this summer, 2024, I’m gonna offer potential correlations to a midlife crisis from those responses. By the way, you can sign up to get the report when it’s published. The link is in the show notes. So back to the Millennials in Crisis Report findings. It explains that 1 in 10 millennials reported experiencing a midlife crisis around age 34. And it says that 81% believe that they can’t afford a midlife crisis, and 58% don’t have time for 1.

Bernie Borges [00:04:20]:
It also says that the anticipated age for a midlife crisis among millennials is now around age age 44, which is earlier than the traditional age of 50. Now, my take on this is no surprise, in part because when I was in my mid thirties, I was freaking out a little bit. I remember reflecting on how carefree my life was in my twenties. I mean, I was gainfully employed. I even bought my first home at age 28, but my responsibilities by my mid thirties were notably more than they were in my twenties. In my twenties, if I screwed up or made a mistake, I would only hurt myself. But by my mid thirties, I had started a family, and the stakes were higher. Now this is my personal experience, and I know that’s not necessarily your experience.

Bernie Borges [00:05:11]:
My point is that experiencing life stress in your thirties, regardless of what your circumstances, should not be a surprise. The only surprise to me is the expectation of having a midlife crisis at age 44 instead of age 50. Now, my read on this is because I think people’s perception of age 50 when they’re in their thirties seems like it’s really far away. And, given the stress that they’re already experiencing in their thirties, they don’t even think that they can last to age 50 without experiencing a midlife crisis. The reality is that the opposite is true. The older we get, the faster time seems to pass by. I mean, we blink and we’re 50. I bet you’re smiling right about now because you’ve experienced this yourself.

Bernie Borges [00:06:02]:
Am I right? Anyway, continuing with the millennials in crisis report findings, it also talks about delaying life milestones. Nearly half of millennials, 49%, feel trapped in their current life circumstances, primarily due to financial and personal limitations. The report says that 70% of millennials are not where they expected to be at this stage in their Midlife, This is having an impact of delayed life milestones, with 62% citing financial reasons and 30% citing mental health reasons for these delays. Now, the report says that the most common life milestones that millennials have achieved are, and they list 5. Number 1, earning a graduate degree. Number 2, getting a credit card. Number 3, moving out of their parents house. Number 4, buying a car.

Bernie Borges [00:06:59]:
And number 5, getting a pet. Now my take on the fact that 49% of millennials feel trapped in their current life circumstances is because in many ways, they’re not doing better than their parents. The finding that 70% are not where they expected to be at this stage in their life bears this out. Many are struggling with student debt, or they’re strapped by inflationary circumstances that make homeownership difficult or impossible, especially for those that are living in areas where homeownership financially is just out of reach. For us Midlife, feeling trapped can also be a reality. We know that people often feel trapped as a caregiver for their kids and their aging parents. Here are some stats on Midlife feeling trapped. A survey from Pew Research Center in 2000 13 says that nearly half, 47 percent of adults in their forties and fifties had a parent aged 65 or older, and were either raising a young child, or financially supporting a grown child.

Bernie Borges [00:08:09]:
And this group is considered part of the sandwich generation. I love that buzzword, sandwich generation. Another study from AARP, a little more recently, 2020, found that around 1 in 7 middle aged adults, 15 percent, were providing financial assistance or unpaid care to both an aging parent and a child. And a study from the National Alliance For Caregiving, also in 2020, said that approximately 11% of caregivers in the US were providing care for both an aging parent and a child under the age of 18. Now according to these three studies, the percentage of people that were quote unquote sandwiched between parents and their own kids is pretty low, but it’s more common than the statistics say they are. Just look around your own circle of friends and family. Personally, I experienced this when my parents entered their end of life season, and I was their legal guardian, and my kids were still in college. It was a stressful time, and I remember it well.

Bernie Borges [00:09:16]:
As far as life milestones are concerned for us Midlife, here are some examples of those life milestones. Graduating a kid from college, which implies that they’re getting off your payroll. Celebrating a kid’s wedding, celebrating the birth of a grandchild, completing a core career, like maybe retiring from a specific career, and transitioning to a new career, taking a dream vacation that you put off for many years, downsizing, or relocating to a dream location that also you’ve put off for many years. Now, if you can relate to 1 or more of these, you’re in good company, my midlife friend. Now, back to the millennial report, it also talks about challenges and perceptions. And it says that 87% of millennials feel that older generations don’t understand the challenges that they face. They feel a lack of empathy from older generations and the criticism that millennials often face regarding their lifestyle choices. Now this is an interesting finding, and I’m tempted to go on a tangent.

Bernie Borges [00:10:23]:
And I will, but I’m going to keep it really brief. My survey asked several questions about the relationship between us Midlife and people of younger generations. Now, I’m not gonna spill the beans on all the findings that are gonna be published in my forthcoming report on on this, except for one thing, and that is that generally speaking, us midlifers get along with younger generations. Now, there’s more detail to this this topic, which I’m gonna cover in my report, but the point is that we may or may not understand millennials as much as millennials would like us to, but we can get along with them. That said, the point in the millennials life crisis report is that us older generations don’t understand the challenges that they face. Now, I think that’s because the challenges that we faced were very different. Our challenges date back to the analog age. In other words, before the Internet.

Bernie Borges [00:11:23]:
Before the world was digital. Do you remember pulling over in your car, opening the glove box, and pulling out a folded map? Unfolding it so you can locate where you are, and then find directions to your destination. And you used your finger on the map. Then you left the map by your side. Or if you had someone with you, you asked your companion to give you directions from the map. Do you remember that? I know you do. I do. We didn’t have GPS in the palm of our hand in our twenties and thirties.

Bernie Borges [00:12:00]:
My point is that our challenges were more black and white. Some would argue that they were simpler. For example, a choice to relocate to another city to accept the job or stay where you are. Today, millennials face more complex challenges. They’re competing in a global economy, and they’re managing relationships that are way more digital than analog, meaning face to face. And if they’re dating, they compete for a mate online before they even agree to meet. And they’re constantly fed stories all day long on social media and the mainstream media about what their life should look like, and then when their life doesn’t look like that, they feel stressed, or inadequate, or both. It’s no wonder that 87% of millennials feel that older generations don’t understand the challenges that they face, because they’re very different than what we faced.

Bernie Borges [00:13:01]:
Now the report goes on to redefine a midlife crisis. It discusses the expected experiences that millennials anticipate during a midlife crisis, including career changes, attending therapy, and changing their appearance. It mentions the shift in stereotypical midlife crisis purchases, with some millennials leaning towards environmentally friendly choices like electric vehicles instead of sports cars. And the report frames this up as redefining a midlife crisis. Now, I don’t see it that way at all. To me, the only difference is the age. These millennials are thinking about these things sooner than a traditional midlifer, which leads me to my final point that I’ll get to. But first, the millennial life crisis report also covers positive perspective.

Bernie Borges [00:14:00]:
It emphasizes that a midlife crisis can lead to positive personal growth with the right support system. It encourages people to seek help from family, friends, and therapists during challenging times. And of course, that’s also true of our midlife seasons. So this does take me to my final point. Since I launched the Midlife Fulfill podcast in February 2022, I have always believed that midlife actually begins in our thirties. Yes. In our thirties. Now you might be thinking, but, Bernie, you position The Midlife Podcast for people over age 40.

Bernie Borges [00:14:43]:
That’s true. The reason is because it’s difficult to convince someone in their thirties that they’re in midlife. I’ve tried. My daughter, she’s a millennial. She’s in her thirties, and she does not by that point that midlife begins in your thirties. I’ve had this conversation with her. Now, I realize it’s an audience of 1, but I don’t think it’s unique to that one conversation. In other words, it’s a tough sell to convince people in their thirties that they’re in Midlife, and that’s because the perception of midlife is forties, fifties, and even sixties.

Bernie Borges [00:15:20]:
I get it. I mean, when I was in my thirties, I certainly didn’t consider myself in midlife. Now the only reason that I suggest that midlife begins in our thirties is because I equate our midlife seasons with adulting. Now I shared earlier that I was a responsible person in my twenties. I even mentioned that I purchased my first home at age 28. But it wasn’t until my thirties where I felt more responsibility. I felt more adult in my thirties than I did in my twenties. While this is my experience, I suggest that I am not an isolated case.

Bernie Borges [00:16:00]:
Maybe that’s going to be a future research project that I’ll tackle. We’ll see. Until then, I think we can look at this research report from the Thriving Center of Psychology, titled Millennials in Crisis, as evidence that supports my thesis that we begin our midlife seasons in our thirties. And the significance of this is that we all wanna thrive, my friend. We all wanna thrive. And whether or not we know it consciously, we want to thrive across the 5 pillars, health, fitness, career, relationships, and legacy. So this is what’s on my mind for this episode, friend. I’ll leave you with this thought.

Bernie Borges [00:16:47]:
Are you 80% fulfilled? If you are, you’re doing great. And if you’re less than 80% fulfilled, you’re in good company. Now there’s more on this in my upcoming Midlife fulfilled report this summer. Details on that are in the show notes page for this episode. Hey. I’ll see you on episode 187. Make sure that you’re subscribed to the Midlife fulfilled podcast so that you don’t miss it. I’ll see you then.

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