If at the time of reading this article you are somewhere between 45 and 60 years old you belong to the “sandwich generation”; the age group wedged between retired baby boomers and the younger generation of digital natives. Many men in this position feel more than a little marginalised, caught between the traditional male role of being the sole breadwinner in the family and the ‘new man’ who identifies himself as his partner’s co-washer-upper and baby-minder. If that rings a bell you may be experiencing manopause, an often-overlooked phase of a man’s life caused by testosterone deficiency, affecting between six and 12 per cent of men over the age of 40. Symptoms can range from erectile dysfunction and low sex drive to depression, weight gain and fatigue. But the chemical changes in your body do not make you any less of a man—it just makes you a different kind of man—and you have in fact more going for you than you might realise.
Not being a medical man I cannot comment on the physical changes a man may experience in his middle years, but as a life coach specializing in working with middle-aged men I can recognize this as a time of change on many other levels; a time that can—with some focus and a little bit of help—be turned into an opportunity for personal reinvention and rejuvenation of spirit. Because this is the time in a man’s life when maturity and experience make him truly capable of taking up the challenge of personal development, and therefore a time when he is most likely to benefit from life coaching—and if you understand how coaching works you’ll understand why this is so.
Coaching is based on the principle that a person is ultimately responsible for how their actions today impact their life tomorrow, which presupposes that a person is in charge of their own life, able to find their own answers, develop their own skills, and change their own attitudes and behaviour. Coaching is a collaboration between coach and client explicitly for the purpose of following the client’s agenda and meeting his needs. The role of the coach is not to judge a client’s ideas, opinions and values, but to encourage his creativity and support him in achieving his goals.
With these fundamental principles of coaching in mind it becomes clear that if you are a middle-aged man of integrity and intelligence you have, when you reach this stage of life, developed the personal qualities that will enable you to fully engage with, and benefit from, the coaching process. You will have gained self-awareness and earned the right to self-determination; you have acquired maturity and a fair degree of worldly wisdom, and in the course of your life you have probably already experienced change; professionally, socially and personally. This is an ideal starting point for experiencing effective and successful coaching for two reasons: First you are at a stage when you may feel a genuine need for something new to happen in your life, and second, a lifetime of experience has established the potential for you to work effectively with a coach.
Research shows that a large portion of middle-aged men feel unfulfilled by their work and personal life. After dedicating decades to building a career it’s not uncommon for them to look around and think: “Is this it?” They’ve devoted their lives to family, wives, kids; developing their career and business and have often put themselves last. And because of how men have traditionally been raised they feel they should deal with any lack of satisfaction in their life on their own and with no support whatsoever.
Enter life coaching: It is totally objective in approach and unencumbered by any emotional attachment, just right for a man who wants to take charge of his own destiny. And for someone who is used to being self-reliant it provides the ideal helping hand towards personal development without making him feel any sense of failure. Coaching will enable him to gain greater insight into his own circumstances and recognize opportunities for potential change; it will help him examine his own choices, set realistic and achievable goals, and create step-by-step action plans not just to realize these but to go beyond what was thought impossible.
Coaching is a great way for increasing a person’s sense of fulfillment and his performance at any stage of life but perhaps never more so than when facing the challenge of moving from one chapter of life into the next. Given the choice I am fairly certain that most middle-aged men would give up a large part of their annual income in exchange for waking up each morning feeling stimulated and excited about the day ahead. When he looks back on his past achievements, and forwards to what life may hold in store, coaching may provide the perfect solution for a man who wants to make the remainder of his life satisfying and meaningful.