For Gen X, Midlife Is No Crisis

Having no f*cks to give about how they’re “supposed” to live, Gen Xers do what works for them – and are pretty happy as a result, according to Viacom International’s newest study.

As Gen X approach midlife, they’re managing to avoid midlife crisis. While earlier generations became overwhelmed with responsibility, stymied by regret, or unsure of their identities in their middle years, Gen X have unwittingly stumbled upon a remedy.

The rebellion that once defined their youth has transformed into a radical acceptance of who they are. They’re not struggling to follow a script. They don’t want to be anything they’re not. They’re living life in their own way.

And they don’t give a f*ck about what others think.

Gen X represents nearly 2 billion people globally – well over a quarter of the world’s population. Viacom gained new insights about this generation via its newly-launched project Gen X Today, which surveyed 12,000 people ages 30 to 49 in 21 countries*, collected 1,000 images through photo-journals, and hosted a series of intimate dinner discussions and ethnographic interviews in 8 countries.

This research found that 81% of Gen Xers describe themselves as happy with their lives today. One reason for their contentment is their active search for fulfilment.

Having a “thing” – an interest they feel passionately about – insulates Gen X from midlife crisis. This activity doesn’t have to be cool, it just needs to make them happy. For some it’s mini-marathons, for others it’s circus school. More than half of Gen Xers say that art, music or sports is a big part of their identity.

This generation has mastered the art of prioritizing what’s most important to them. In doing so, they declutter their lives by taking stock of their needs, refocusing on what matters to them most, and continually fine-tuning until they feel a greater sense of satisfaction.

Even Gen Xers who are parents don’t lose themselves in that role. More than 8 in 10 (83%) agree that their own personal aspirations and their children are equally important.

And while they are at the point where age starts to set in, Gen X aren’t overly concerned. Over 70% think they look younger than they are and 60% say they feel younger than they are. (As it turns out, Millennials are 20% more likely to consider plastic surgery.)

For older generations, midlife was a time for abrupt questioning of who they were, what they really wanted, and whether their lives matched their dreams. It was a time of disruptive change, or of half-hearted acceptance.

Gen X, on the other hand, have always sought to maintain a balance between what they have to do and what they want to do.

Because they manage their responsibilities and their personal goals, Gen X’s optimism about the future is unflinching as they face the second half of life.

In fact, nearly 3 out of 4 believe their best years are still to come.

Click here to see all articles from this project.