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Do you have midlife burnout?
November 15, 2006

Midlife Wisdom For Men Issue #070, November 15, 2006

=========== TABLE OF CONTENTS ==========

· Midlife Burnout · Book Review: Orbiting The Giant Hairball · Preventing Diabetes


Written by Noel McNaughton (c) copyright 2006


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Welcome to this issue of Midlife Wisdom for Men.

Sometimes at midlife we just feel burned out. I remember feeling that way a few years aog. In fact I still do occasionally! There are reasons for that feeling. See below.

Type II ('adult onset') diabetes worries a lot of midlife men, with good reason. But there are a few simple things to do that will prevent it.

There are 1195 words in the articles in this newsletter, which should take you about 4 minutes to read.

All the best,



Midlife Burnout

One of the most common statements I hear from middle-aged men is that they feel burned out, and unappreciated. They feel as though all they do is work, while their wives and kids spend the money, and want more. Nobody even says thank you. They just expect the old man will keep on putting out.

It makes them dream of kicking over the traces and taking off, maybe to some island in the Mediterranean with a high-breasted young maiden who will appreciate them, not to mention being almost continuously aroused!

While it may be true that many men's families don't express much appreciation for the work they do and the money they make, I think a part of this feeling of dissatisfaction is due to what might be called midlife burnout.

At about the time a man is wondering what is life is really all about, and is maybe wanting a sabbatical to take time to think about things for a while, his load is actually getting heavier.

By the time we reach midlife, we have a lot of skills and experience, and people in every part of our life - at work, at home, at organizations you belong to, ask us to take on more commitments. And being good guys, we usually do.

At the same time, we have less physical stamina than we used to have. In our twenties and even thirties, we recover much more quickly than in our forties and beyond. For example about three years ago I got bucked off a horse and cracked a couple of ribs. I asked my son-in-law, who is a medical doctor, how long it would take to heal. He said about 6-8 weeks, which is probably true for a younger person. I was 57 at the time, and it took almost a year!

We also can't handle stress quite as well, again because we don't have the physical resiliency we used to have, which compounds the extra load we are carrying. Maybe that's one reason we feel more irritable at midlife! Another stress at midlife is the job. I had an email again today from a 47-year-old man who is thinking of changing occupations. He is a church minister, and is no longer finding the work rewarding, but he does not know what would spark his passion again. This is very common for men anywhere from about 35 on.

Another question that often comes up, especially around ages 35-45, is what I call the 'right livelihood' question: 'what is my true vocation?'. Some 17-year-old decided we would be (an accountant, a dentist, a mechanic, whatever), maybe because there was supposed to be good money in it, but it isn't feeding our soul, and we feel as though we are missing our true work, even though we don't quite know what that is.

All in all, this can be a stressful time. That's why it is called midlife burnout. But here is the good news... like all things, this too shall pass. We need to do a certain amount of self-care: maybe get a personal/professional coach to help us clarify our true vocation, talk to our wife about feeling taken for granted. Maybe she truly appreciates us, but forgot to mention it. By the way... it is good to express appreciation for her contribution too.

Good diet, enough sleep, and some regular physical exercise can go a long way toward reducing stress as well, and getting together with friends can also be a true balm when feeling burned out.

Even though during my 50s I wondered whether the loss of energy, libido, focus, and confidence would ever end, for the past couple of years, I have felt better than ever. I will be 1 next month, and I have the energy back I had in my forties, but it feels more calm and relaxed. Little things don't get to me any more, and I am nowhere near as irritable as I was in my fifties!


A work of art is useless. So is a flower. - Oscar Wilde


Book Review: Orbiting The Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie

My friend Terry Jones, author of The Elder Within ( says this book is one of the best for getting through midlife. I agree.

The book is available through (click on link above), and I borrowed it from the library. Rather than write a review, I will take the easy way and give a review from Amazon:

Creativity is crucial to business success. But too often, even the most innovative organization quickly becomes a "giant hairball"--a tangled, impenetrable mass of rules, traditions, and systems, all based on what worked in the past--that exercises an inexorable pull into mediocrity. Gordon McKenzie worked at Hallmark Cards for thirty years, many of which he spent inspiring his colleagues to slip the bonds of Corporate Normalcy and rise to orbit--to a mode of dreaming, daring and doing above and beyond the rubber-stamp confines of the administrative mind-set. In his deeply funny book, exuberantly illustrated in full colour, he shares the story of his own professional evolution, together with lessons on awakening and fostering creative genius.

Originally self-published and already a business "cult classic", this personally empowering and entertaining look at the intersection between human creativity and the bottom line is now widely available to bookstores. It will be a must-read for any manager looking for new ways to invigorate employees, and any professional who wants to achieve his or her best, most self-expressive, most creative and fulfilling work.


Television: a medium. So called because it's neither rare nor well done. Ernie Kovacs


Preventing Type II Diabetes

I took a genetics course in 1966, where I learned that because of the discovery of insulin, at some time in the future, half the population would have Type I diabetes (those with the disease would no longer die before they had babies). Type II, or adult onset diabetes however, is largely caused by an unhealthy lifestyle that eventually causes the body to become "resistant" to insulin. It worries a lot of middle age men, and so it should, especially you have had a blood test that shows impaired glucose tolerance, or if one of your parents has Type II diabetes. But the good news is, it can be prevented. Here are some tips:

  • Keep your weight under control. Some studies show you can reduce your risk by losing as little as five to ten pounds. If you already have Type II, you can even control the symptoms by controlling your weight.
  • Eat a low-fat diet. And stay away from the high-glycemic carbohydrates such as white flour, white sugar, and in general, highly processed, sweet foods.
  • Exercise. A good diet and exercise are the two keys to good health as we age. Some studies even show that any exercise at all lowers the risk of developing Type II diabetes.

I do this newsletter and host the website as a service to other men, and am happy to do so. Just the same, it costs some money, and if you would like to make a small contribution to help with those costs, I would really appreciate it. If you would like, you can make a donation at:


Wouldn't it be great to work less and play more golf? I do not of a better way to earn a part-time income, than a simple information Web site. I encourage you to check out You'll be amazed at how you can turn YOUR hobby into online income.


The Mankind Project

The ManKind Project® offers trainings which support men in developing lives of integrity, accountability, and connection to feeling. Our trainings challenge men to develop their abilities as leaders, fathers, and elders as ways of offering their deepest gifts in service to the world.

The ManKind Project's New Warrior Training Adventure® is an intense, transformative men's initiation which invites men to forge a deep conscious connection between head and heart. The NWTA offers men a powerful, challenging opportunity to look at all aspects of their lives in a richly supportive environment.


Got your copy of Picking Up The Burning Feather yet? It will help you on your spiritual journey.

Just go to Picking Up The Burning Feather: A Spiritual Guide For Midlife Men.


Just For You: A Free Do-It-Yourself Retirement Planning Report

If you are a new subscriber to this newsletter, you will recall I promised you a link to a secret page on the Midlife Men's site where you can download a free 27-page report on 'DIY Retirement planning' by George Slater.

Welcome to the newsletter, and for your free report, go to: DIY Retirement E-Report , and follow the instructions.




A Destroyer of Compasses by Wade Bell, published by Guernica Editions, (Toronto, Buffalo and Lancaster UK) $15.00 Cdn

One Man's Mid-Life Crisis Led to Spain. Planning to spend six weeks, he stayed five years.

A book of stories the Toronto Globe & Mail called "an assured and sensual portrait of a culture" with "precise and ironic examples of human idiosyncracy." The review went on to call stories "gems."

Available from Amazon, E-Bay and local bookstores.

I Need Your Questions and Feedback!

Got comments? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.

Just email your suggestions and/or questions to . I look forward to hearing from you. And thanks.


Well friend, that's it for now. Again, if you enjoyed this and/or found it useful, and know of anyone else who might like it, please pass it forward. And if you have questions or recommendations, I would love to hear from you.

All the best, Noel

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