What you need to know:
- As young adults, from late teens to around 25, we explore, experiment, and gradually build a firm sense of our own identity.
- From mid 20s to early 40s, we concentrate on establishing our professional lives, creating a home, finding a partner.
Every parent knows that children develop through a series of stages — babyhood, infancy, childhood and adolescence. What’s not so obvious is that the rest of our lives also go through stages, right through to old age.
So as young adults, from late teens to around 25, we explore, experiment, and gradually build a firm sense of our own identity. What makes us different is our values, personalities, strengths and weaknesses.
Young adults feel a powerful need to have intimate friends, and by socialising and dating they develop their self-confidence and social skills.
The next stage usually runs from around our mid 20s until sometime in our early 40s. It’s then that we concentrate on making our mark as adults — establishing our professional lives, creating a home, finding a partner, and starting a family.
This is the best time of one’s life for many people, filled with energy and enthusiasm. But there are critical skills and attitudes that need to be developed if one is to be successful.
Like losing the self-absorption of youth. Learning to get up early and to drop the late nights. To grasp opportunities and do our very best in everything. Not pretending to be someone we’re not, just to be liked. Becoming braver in love, and acquiring the skills needed for a successful long term relationship, such as trust and honesty.
Sense of accomplishment
Sometime between 35 and 50, most people find themselves reflecting on the deeper meaning of their lives. Many choose new career paths then, and established relationships often change or end as new directions are developed. This can all feel highly confusing, and typically takes several years.
So if that’s happening to you, make time for reflection and planning. Rethink your finances, weigh up your values, experience, and the things you do well.
Changing your career might mean going back to school, but you probably know more than you realise and could move into a new area just by re-marketing yourself. So think in terms of skills instead of credentials. Talk to lots of people and really listen to them, especially those who can help you reach your goals.
Around 50, most people start thinking about how to make their lives count for something. Whether through the way they raise their family, or by working to improve society. A sense of accomplishment becomes increasingly important, as they help their children towards becoming independent adults, and start caring for ageing parents. Handled well, this stage of life can lead to a period of great satisfaction and achievement.
In our last years the focus shifts again. You’ll feel the need to have created something that will outlast you. Maybe that’s your children, or perhaps you’ve benefited others, or made positive contributions to society. You’ll want to pass your wisdom on, and to help others to live each moment to the full. Secure in your knowledge that all of our lives form a part of a greater whole.