If you’re in your 40s and feel lost, these 7 reasons could be why

Your 40s should be a celebrated time in your life, but all you can focus on is feeling stuck and out of touch with reality. 

Maybe you despise your job or aren’t married yet. You’re under pressure to achieve these goals because you think that time is running out. 

At an early age, we’re led to believe that our lives should follow specific steps so that we can be successful. When you’re 40, and you aren’t where you expected to be, it creates a sense of hopelessness. 

You think that you’ve failed yourself, and you aren’t sure how to move forward. 

If you’re in your 40s and feel lost, these 7 reasons could be why. Understanding that your feelings can serve as a catalyst for change can help you regain your value and purpose. 

1) You feel like a failure

There’s something glum about being in your 40s, isn’t there? You no longer have the energy you had in your 20s; your body’s changing, and then there’s regret by the time you reach middle age. 

You feel like you’ve failed yourself because you haven’t achieved the things that you were supposed to. 

Is this your standard or society’s standard

Midlife is an overwhelming period and usually a time when we reflect on our successes and failures. But in most cases, we use what society considers successful as our goalpost, and by 40, we compare our lives to these expectations. 

When you realize that you haven’t achieved what you thought you would and what is expected of you, you lose your sense of ambition and feel lost

Stop looking externally, because the more you compare yourself to others or the expected standard of success, the angrier and more frustrated you become. 

Quit the self-comparisons, especially when they hinder your success. Using others as a standard to measure your achievements is self-sabotage. You’ll always find something about your life that is inferior, and this creates a spiral of negative thoughts. 

What do you want for your life? 

Forget about where society expects you to be and stop being so self-critical. Focus on today and what you need to feel happy and fulfilled

2) You don’t feel satisfied

Do you have this nagging feeling that something’s missing, but you can’t put your finger on what it is? 

You’ve lost some of your zest for life, and despite having it all, you feel unhappy. You question whether there’s more to the routine that you’ve become stuck in. 

Feeling lost isn’t just about what we haven’t achieved. It is about accepting our strengths and weaknesses. 

Doing things out of habit can create stagnation. You tend to play it safe, and you feel uneasy because you want to do more and get excited about life again. This lingering sense of dissatisfaction should motivate you to find value and break free from the mundane. 

3) Your life hasn’t gone as planned

When we’re in our 20s, we dream about what our future will look like. Some of us even go as far as creating a “life plan” that breaks down when we get married, when we’ll own our first home, and when we’ll start a family. 

Then life happens. 

You pushed your goals further back, and your career and relationships didn’t work out the way you’d hoped. Your plans didn’t come to fruition, and this realization is slowly starting to make you feel like you’re suffocating. 

When you realize that your life hasn’t gone as planned, you feel hopeless and lost

Rather than focus on what you don’t have, think about what you’ve overcome. Learn to appreciate your achievements, big or small, and accept that you can’t predict the future. 

Another important tip… 

Stop dwelling on the past. The person you were in your 20s or 30s is not the person you are today. Expectations change, and experiences alter who we are. Remember that it’s never too late to work on areas of your life that you want to improve. 

4) You compare yourself to others

Do you spend your time comparing yourself to other people rather than focusing on ways to improve your own life? 

Look, most of us are guilty of this. Sometimes, we experience jealousy, but when it creates insecurity and inferiority and leaves you feeling lost, it’s time to snap out of it. 

You can either let jealousy get you down or use it to motivate yourself. 

Remember that we’re all presented with different choices, and your life took a different path. This doesn’t make you a failure, and it certainly doesn’t mean that someone else is better than you. 

Recognize your worth rather than compare yourself to others. 

5) You question your purpose

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You should have it all figured out by now, shouldn’t you? Wisdom, maturity, family, and a solid career are expected by the time you reach your 40s. 

Isn’t that right? 

Well, it’s not that straightforward, and if every one of us had the formula to achieve everything we wanted to by our 40s, we certainly wouldn’t be feeling lost or stuck in life. 

The reason that you feel like you’re drifting is because you’ve lost your purpose along the way. The more you think about where you want to be and all of the things that you thought you would have achieved, the more you spiral into regret and despair. 

A lack of purpose makes it hard to move forward because it makes you question who you are. 

Don’t be so hard on yourself. 

You can overcome feeling lost and stagnant in your life by thinking about what makes you happy. Answer questions like, “What do I find meaningful?” and “What brings me joy?” This can help you uncover what you need to do to find purpose again. 

6) You haven’t settled down

There’s a formula that every person in their 40s is expected to follow. You should be married, have a family, and have financial security. 

When you realize that you don’t have this type of stability, you think of yourself as a failure. 

That’s what you’ve been led to believe. 

Whether you’re divorced or simply haven’t met “the one” by the time you turn 40, you might feel like giving up hope on love and relationships. You might be struggling with being single, and life’s just passing you by! 

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. 

At least 50% of singles are in their 40s, and in 2021, the highest number of unmarried individuals for this age group was recorded. 

Loneliness and sadness can make you feel lost in life. It certainly doesn’t help when close friends and family are married and settled and continuously ask you when you’re next. Not having a family by 40 is extremely difficult for women who have dreamed of settling down. 

Rather than focus on what you don’t have, try to look at what you’ve achieved. Don’t put pressure on yourself to find the right person, and allow relationships to develop naturally when they come along. 

Remember that you can control your present, and that includes planning for your future. So, instead of thinking that life has passed you by, change your mindset and consider the opportunities before you. 

7) You’re making rapid changes

When you feel lost or stuck, you want to do something to feel purposeful again. You find yourself making sudden or big decisions that are totally out of character. 

Making changes to improve your current situation or attain your goals is never a bad thing.

It’s when you’re going through a midlife crisis, and you spend beyond your means or make an impulsive decision to change jobs that it becomes problematic. 

Take a step back. 

Re-evaluate what is important and make informed decisions about your current situation and future. Think about those big purchases, from a new wardrobe to a new car, and remember that they can’t provide long-term fulfillment. 

If, after careful consideration, you want to change your career or invest in yourself, I say go for it! 

Final thoughts

When you fail to meet your own expectations, it leaves you feeling lost and without purpose. 

In your 40s, you’re supposed to have figured out your career, have established considerable wealth, and have grown a family. 

The truth is that very few people are living these perfect lives. 

You are unique, so don’t try to fit into society’s box or timeline of where you should be. Think about the way you define success, and don’t be afraid to pursue a new opportunity that brings excitement and passion. 

Once you can identify the reasons that you feel lost in your 40s, you can take steps to rediscover your self-value and your purpose. 

Picture of Marcel Deer

Marcel Deer

Marcel is a journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur. When not obsessing over his man cave or the latest tech, he’s failing helplessly at training his obnoxious rescue dog ‘Boogies’.

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