Midlife Crisis Planning

I turned 35 last week. Just 5 years short of 40.

In early preparation, I selected a ‘93 Mustang as my midlife crisis car. It was unfortunately vetoed by Rachel as too ugly (despite my explanation that it epitomizes the American Dream in 1993, the year I first arrived in the USA.) We settled instead on a ‘97-ish Corvette (a ‘93 Corvette is apparently also too ugly). Marriage is about compromise.

I did plan ahead and marry an engaging woman whom I intend to keep, so that will save me the trouble of seeking a midlife crisis trophy-style replacement.

Jokes aside, there must be something to the midlife crisis thing, and I will speak to it when I get there. But I already have a suspicion. I don’t think it comes from a fear of age, but rather a fear of not getting enough done. “Did I build a great company yet? Did I gather a seven-digit 401k? Am I a recognized expert in my field? No?? Well drat! I’m halfway out of time!”

That’s my theory, anyway.

And the topics listed above are interestingly impossible to complete. Because each one has a next step, and so can’t be finished. “Could I build the company better? The 401k bigger?” Yes, and yes.

And pursuit of them won’t avoid a midlife crisis. Even the Corvette, I suspect, would just be a patch.

No, a company is just a tool to build relationships and engage people, and the Corvette is only an instrument to have fun and engage a co-pilot. (See earlier paragraph about lifetime trophy wife.)

And thus the real midlife crisis solution seems to be people. Time with great friends like Ben Morrill and Ben Kaesekamp, Eric Schlange and Eric Stine. Time with mentors like Eric Sims, Doug Bridges, David Bantly, Glenn Bridges, Garry Zeek and Steve Hines, with the team at Six Sigma Ranch, business partners, and with my kids, parents, siblings, miscellaneous family and beautiful wife. The categories, of course, begin to blend. For what’s the purpose of mentors who aren’t friends, or friends who don’t challenge or teach, or business associates who aren’t good people?

35 years in, and I’m still learning this stuff, that people matter more than projects, and time spent matters more than spreadsheets completed, even though Jesus said it 2000 years ago: “First love God, then love people, and the rest will work itself out.” (My paraphrase.)

35 years in, and that’s what I’ve got so far. Midlife crisis averted. But I’m still keeping an eye out for that perfect ’97 Corvette ; )


About Us, Personal Growth

Couch Time


(Fair Warning: This post has more transparent and personal insight on life and marriage than most. If that’s not your thing, scroll along. If it is, enter your email on the website for a free subscription. There may be more transparency coming ; )

Now for the actual text:

There is not, for all practical purposes, a couch in the Ahlmann Family Airstream. By that I don’t mean there isn’t one, for there are in fact two. (Separated by a table at the front end, they frame the dining room, living room and bedroom, as the table sinks to form our bed.) But for practical purposes, or rather one specific purpose, a couch doesn’t exist.

I can see I will have to explain.

The purpose to which I refer is the occasional evening when a casual conversation becomes a constructive discussion. Or worse, an unconstructive one. You know, the kind of marital debate that requires private time of reflection because further exchange is going nowhere, and the passing thought appears that spending an evening on the couch, with a little distance, might be a viable and even beneficial option.

But for that specific purpose, a couch doesn’t exist. Because the couches that do exist convert to become the master bedroom, i.e. the one and only cushioned surface available for sleeping, with little opportunity for “distance.”

The décor of our Airstream thus encourages what any good marriage counselor recommends: Solve your issues before you go to bed (however long that takes.) And that length of time, interestingly, seems to be unchanged since we first got married 12 years ago. The topics of constructive discussion have evolved (we spend little time now arguing money or sex, the statistical #1 and #2 sources of marital strife), but we do occasionally spar on topics of life plans, raising children (and related coordination), and a recent category that I will call “great ideas that Christian can sell everybody in the world on, except Rachel (because she has already seen through them).”

For those evenings, when opposing views require focused verbal exchange, we are stuck to sort it out. Stuck to agree, at least, on where to cordially park the topic to be solved another day.