Survey says ‘middle-age’ begins at 40 for the average Californian

Reaching the middle of your life can be viewed as a time of celebration or dread, depending on your perspective. Now, as a wave of millennials embarks on this journey into middle age, many are recognizing it as a period of empowerment, enriched with personal development, wisdom and self-realization. This stage of life often brings increased financial security, a sharper understanding of one’s identity, and a stronger sense of purpose. However, not everyone greets middle age with such optimism. Indeed, this phase can also usher in its own set of challenges — it can be a time of significant life transitions, which can cause some to view middle age with apprehension rather than anticipation.

Not only does middle age mean different things to different people, but the exact ages it encompasses also differs. Middle age is a nebulous term—the Cambridge Dictionary defines it as the period of your life, “usually considered to be from about 45 to 60.”

Mixbook, a No. 1 rated design platform for photo books, surveyed 3,000 respondents to determine at what age middle age begins for them.

The survey revealed that, on a national level, middle age is perceived to commence at 40. This suggests that around 9.9 million millennials now identify as middle-aged. However, geographical location appears to influence when people feel they’ve reached this life phase. For example, Oklahomans commonly express their perception of reaching middle age when they reach 36, significantly younger than the national average. And Californians say they consider themselves middle-aged at 40 – in line with the national average. Conversely, Alaskans report not feeling middle-aged until 49, marking a substantial difference in perception across the country.

Respondents were quizzed further on their views of middle age, with some interesting results
A significant number of participants, uncomfortable with the term “middle-aged,” preferred to label this life stage using different terminology. Forty-two percent favor the term “Prime of Life,” while 15 percent chose phrases like “Early Halfway” or “Age of Wisdom”. Other popular descriptors included “Second Adulthood,” “Midlife Transition,” “Peak Survival Mode,” and “Midlife Renewal!”

Moreover, when asked how they would characterize middle age to someone younger, the majority of respondents (24 percent) described it as the phase in life when people typically undergo physical and mental transformations linked to aging. Close behind, 23 percent defined it as the ‘interlude between young adulthood and old age’. A tenth of the participants saw it as ‘a period when people begin to contemplate their achievements and ponder their legacy’, while 8 percent depicted it as ‘a stage when people might experience a shift in their priorities, favoring family or personal fulfillment over career progression.’

Encouragingly, 65 percent of the survey participants in their middle age express satisfaction with their life to date. Similarly, the same percentage of respondents indicated that they have undergone at least one significant life event after reaching midlife.

On a positive outlook, those who have reached middle age celebrated it in the following ways:

  • Taking a trip or vacation to a dream destination: 43 percent.
  • Planning a special experience, such as a skydiving adventure, hot air balloon ride, or bungee jumping excursion: 21 percent.
  • Creating a special keepsake or memento, such as a photo album, scrapbook, or video documenting memories and milestones: 15 percent.
  • Making a personal achievement, such as running a marathon, completing a challenging hike or learning a new language: 11 percent.
  • Starting a new hobby or passion project, such as painting, photography, or writing: 10 percent.
  • Renewing wedding vows or reaffirming a commitment to a significant other: 1 percent.

Finally, respondents were asked what advice they would give to someone approaching middle-age. The most popular advice (by 39 percent) was to take care of your physical health by eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.

Nineteen percent advised to focus on mental health by practicing stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, yoga, or therapy. Eleven percent said staying socially active and engaged by cultivating friendships and participating in activities that interest you.

Other pieces of advice included

  • Stay financially prepared for the future by saving for retirement, creating a budget, and paying off debt.
  • Maintain a positive attitude and embrace the opportunities and experiences that come with this stage of life.
  • Stay connected with family members, including adult children and elderly parents, and be open to adjusting to changing roles and relationships.
  • Prioritize self-care and take time for yourself to recharge and rejuvenate.
  • Pursue your passions and interests, and don’t be afraid to try new things.

“Reaching middle age is a significant milestone that should be embraced,” Leslie Albertson, Director of Marketing at Mixbook. :”This milestone is not merely an age, but a celebration of life lived, lessons learned and the exciting potential that the future still holds. At Mixbook we encourage our customers to embrace these important stages of life – with milestone birthday celebrations and photo books that let you relive all the joys that come with this momentous occasion.”