Mid-Life Crisis #5

Thursday, 1:29pm
Reno, NV
“What this requires is a really stupid and futile gesture on someone’s part.” (Otter, “Animal House” pre-climactic scene)


Do you ever have the vague feeling that everyone around you is enjoying life more than you…

… or has their act together real tight, while you struggle and wake up in the middle of the night fussing over problems?

This is actually part of our default machinery as humans. Personally, I grew up as a kid believing that everyone was hiding the secrets of a happy life from me… they knew these secrets, and were smug about knowing and enjoying them. While I was left to desperate measures, trying to figure out each fresh pitfall and obstacle on my own.

If I could only catch a clue about what everyone else was thinking as they so smoothly navigated life, the secrets of eternal happiness and contentment would surely bloom for me.

My first big revelation as a teenager arrived like a bolt of lightning: After putting together a few clues…

… I abruptly realized that most people weren’t hiding secret thoughts from me at all.

They actually didn’t have a single coherent thought in their skulls.

And something snapped inside. I immediately began to question authority figures, who I had previously just accepted as superior beings. I got expelled for a few days because I refused to cut my hair (this was back when dress codes dictated every detail of your appearance)…

… I made both my English and trig teachers cry in frustration to my fresh “oh, cut the bullshit” attitude…

… a visiting state senator got so flustered at my refusal to accept his pat answers to hard questions (this was during the huge military build-up in Vietnam) that he mumbled something about my “permanent record” being soiled…

… and I nearly didn’t graduate after challenging the track coach’s authority to tell me how to live right (again involving my freaking hair length).

I was having my first mid-life crisis, at the ripe old age of 17.

I eventually calmed down (a bit)… but that glimpse of the reality of who I was sharing space on the planet with never became less valuable.

I’m not putting people down here. I’ll let my long history as a passionate and generous teacher speak for my love of my fellow humans.

However, this was my first taste of looking at life critically, and not accepting either “common sense” or shared belief systems at face value. There are good sides to this, and bad — I respected the brilliance and skills of the exceptional folks around me more… and boldly examined, without apology, the motives and personal issues of the “little Hitlers” who abused powerful positions (or just liked to fuck with people).

Trouble and adventure followed, and I wouldn’t change any of it. I felt awake, aware and open to all opportunities, unfettered by other’s ideas on how I should live.

All of this was also a tremendous advantage in my early career as a freelance copywriter, of course. It truly helps to know who’s got mojo, and who’s faking it for ulterior purposes, amongst your clients, prospects, customers and colleagues.

However… I want to talk about the process of mid-life crisis right now.

Cuz it’s an art form.

I figure I’ve had five or six major mid-life crises at this point…

… and I’ve enjoyed every damn one of ’em. They’re highlights in my life.

I was lucky, I guess, to have the first one before I knew what they were. Probably a better definition would be something about encountering a fork in your path, and choosing to take one road over the other. Often with nothing more than a vague sense of why you’re making the decision.

With the caveat that — for many — the risks of choosing create so much internal commotion that you freeze up. You allow inaction to win, and continue breathing and waking up each day full of resentment and questions about “what it all means” and shame over never achieving your dreams.

But that’s a mouthful.  “Mid-life crisis” has always communicated the same thing to me.

It’s regarded mostly as a joke in our culture. The cartoon image is of a struggling-to-be-cool guy with a comb-over and a beer gut in a flashy sports car trying to impress the chicks…

… and being laughed at. “Just settle down, Mr Mid-Life Crisis,” society says. “You look ridiculous. Go home and clean out the gutters.”

This attitude is as mis-guided as most of society’s views about the big events in life. If you haven’t lost someone close to you, for example, be prepared to enter a world of medical/legal/detail hell as you deal with your grief, and try to move on. Lotta wolves out there, and because you are unprepared (both emotionally, and tactically, because society refuses to look at death realistically) you can easily be shell-shocked prey.

And I just read some anecdotes on young folks getting married today (from a shrink’s blog)… where something like 70% of the soon-to-be-hitched believe they’ll get divorced. True or not, the stats on divorce are shocking…

… not for the damage it does to families, but for the utter disregard of “vows”. When the culture just shrugs at people routinely violating their “word”, trust flutters away like dust in the wind.

And on and on.

The thing is, our culture largely exists on a surface layer. Bopped to and fro like flotsam on the ocean’s tides, without clue or direction or purpose. Or honor.

This is why professional writers stand out among the business crowd: To be able to sell effectively, you must look at life and culture and reality not as you wish it was… and not as you feel it ought to be…

… but rather, you see life as it IS. The harsh truth, the deeper nuances, the entire range of dissonance, hypocrisy and absurdity that comes with being human in a concrete jungle.

I like to say that good salesmen lead better lives…

… because, for me, living with eyes shut is sleep walking. And I prefer to be self-aware, and tuned into the meta-reality around me (as much as I can with our pitiful tools of sense and cognition).

If you strive to be a true professional, worthy of the title, then you cannot live your life slackly. You can’t communicate well, you can’t persuade, and you can’t sell as flotsam.

You are ONLY as good as your word… regardless of how little the rest of the planet cares about vows.

You MEET your fucking deadlines, in other words, and you do your best work no matter how much you’re getting paid (or how small your client is).

For most writers, this kind of commitment comes only after a transformative revelation. A “duh!” moment, where you finally realize you can’t use your friends and family as role models anymore. They will resent you for starting to arrive on time, stick to schedules, and beg off from fun when you have a deadline to meet.

Your success will irritate the hell out of everyone, because you obliterate the standard excuses (“You can’t win against The Man”… “The little guy doesn’t stand a chance”… “It’s hopeless to even try winning at biz”… and so on). No one likes to have their excuses obliterated.

My third mid-life crisis arrived as the sudden realization that — as a 30-year-old slacker — my life was never gonna change unless I did something to change it.

It was like a cleaver separating my former life (beatnik partier wannabe-writer) from the sparkling new adventure spreading out before me.  It was a shock to the system to realize that I really could…

(a) Actually desire a goal…

(b) Plan for achieving it… and…

(c) Then go out and achieve it by implementing that plan.

It wasn’t fool-proof. And it was not easy. Nor did it guarantee success.

But it was like climbing a big mountain. You could spend your entire life wishing you could reach the top, lamenting the fact that you have no clue on how to even begin…

… or, you could get a clue (Step One) by researching mountain climbing, start hiking and learning the tactics of good climbing (Step Two), and be confident that… as each new step was made manifest… you could figure it out.

People who climb mountains, climb mountains. People who wish they could climb, just wish.

This is a metaphor for all of life. It’s what separates the doers from the dreamers.

I have fully embraced every mid-life crisis that’s come my way. Change, once you make friends with it, is the foundation of adventure and a wonderful thing to indulge in.

I got used to the occasional upheaval that came with these crises… like moving to another town (knowing it can take two years to feel part of any new community)… waltzing into situations where I was a total rookie (but armed with the knowledge that the NEXT time I encountered that situation, I would no longer be a novice)…

… and all the anxiety and turmoil that comes with shifting gears and choosing something dramatically different.

I quit the business world for a couple of years, and formed a rock band to play all the biker bars and hipster joints in Northern Nevada. I wrote bad novels for another year, and went deep into the world of published fiction.  (It sucks — I earned more with one freelance copy gig than the pro novelists I met earned in a year, even with a best-seller.) (And I would have never guessed that to be true, if I hadn’t gone down that path with total commitment to figure it out.)

I moved to different states, different communities, and different climates. (Big shock moving from my shack on the beach in LA, to the worst winter snowfall in 100 years up at Lake Tahoe. August 29th, swimming in the warm Pacific. September 29th, digging my car out of a ten-foot hill of snow.) (Hint: Dig out a glimpse of your license plate first. I dug out the wrong car twice before I figured that out.)

But that’s just me. Read biographies of people you admire (or loathe). Jobs, Gates, Einstein, Churchill, Nixon, JFK, Plato, all of ’em…

… and take to heart how the ups and downs of their lives are critical points of decision. You go one way, your life changes dramatically. You go the other way, ditto.

But you go. You do not sit still with quivering lip, slick with fear.

You go.

I am proudly in the early stages of yet another mid-life crisis. And yes, I know I’m way past “mid-life” and all that. Again, it’s just shorthand metaphor for shooting down a fresh path, aimed far from the previous one I was on.

First step was to form a new side company, Carlton Ink, to channel my “dream” projects through. I used the term “Ink” as in writing ink, not tattoo ink, of course… and as a play on “Inc”. Just go with it. (This blog is my main entry page, so be sure to sign up, top right, or you’ll miss any notifications I send out for the exciting new shit I’ve got planned.)

I’m still deeply involved with my prior ventures like the Simple Writing System — I just moved away from day-to-day operations. I am especially still deeply involved in the now-infamous Platinum Mastermind (co-hosting with my biz partner Stan).

There’s never been a mastermind like this one before, and the NEED for this kind of intense, results-oriented insider group has never been greater. If you need to get in (there are limited spots), go here for more info.

(Side note: Just to drive home the point that mid-life crises are not just common, but constantly burping up in people’s lives… I asked the group in the last mastermind meeting to raise their hand if they were in, or felt near to a mid-life crisis.  Almost every hand in the room went up. This is important, because too many folks feel like they’re the ONLY ones going through this kind of turbulence. You’re not alone. It’s a major part of the human condition, and it’s PARTICULARLY intense for entrepreneurs.)

Second step was to indulge in a long-time desire of mine to have a truly cool logo.

So I cornered my uber-talented graphic artist pal Rick Allen (you can reach him yourself at InceptIncMail@gmail.com if you need primo design work done)…

… and had the logo done that is displayed up top here.

I just shiver in joy whenever I look at it.  I grew up surrounded by sixties SoCal car culture, loving the art, graffiti, tat’s and cartoons of the era…

… and always wanted my own rollicking graphic like this. Rick spent all of ten minutes listening to me gush and talk about the artists I worshipped (like R. Crumb, H. Bosch, and especially Rick Griffin and Robert Williams)…

… and then produced this gorgeous, stunning beauty. The old-style pen through the heart was my idea — a nod to the long line of scribes, going back to dudes etching on cuneiform clay tablets in ancient Sumeria, who are my brethren.

Here’s to ya, ink-stained wretches everywhere.

Step Three: Move ever-so-smoothly into a working semi-retirement… where I’ll tend to a couple of worthy clients (requirements: Big bucks, no whining, do what I tell you to do), and finish all these books and courses I’ve been ignoring for years.

Now, my “semi-retirement” will mostly resemble what other people do in a normal work-week.  I work damn hard at hobbies, side projects, and especially my own writing.

Oh, I got plans.

But before I finish up here, I need to lay out some basic ground rules for enjoying a good mid-life crisis.

I don’t wanna hear about anyone wandering off half-cocked, creating chaos in their wake chasing inappropriate love interests or signing up for the Navy SEALS at age 40. (You’ll get crushed in both instances.) Don’t be a cliche.

Here’s my advice:

Ground Rule #1: First and foremost, take care of those who depend on you. Don’t act irrationally, or without a well-thought-out plan. This is especially critical if there are children involved.

You can successfully go through a spectacular mid-life crisis without hurting others. It may only be 50% of what you wanted, but remember that most folks never do ANYTHING about their dreams… so you’re still way ahead. (So you take a family trek across Europe, instead of the bachelor sleaze-fest you think you wanted. Be a grown-up about this.)

Ground Rule #2: Make lots of lists, and keep them organized. This clears your head, and identifies what you need to focus on. If you’re determined to sail solo around the world, learn to swim first.

Ground Rule #3: Again, your homework is to read biographies. I’m serious about this. Learn how people who pulled off the spectacular accomplished it, and how they navigated their own foibles and the challenges of the world.

Ground Rule #4: Have an “exit” plan — both for your current situation (see Ground Rule #1) so you don’t leave collateral damage all over the place… and for at least a few months of your new direction. As much as you can, plan.

Now, I say that as a guy who rarely made good plans in my earlier crises. But I just didn’t know how, and was operating without a guidebook. I made up the rules as I went.

Don’t follow my early lead on this. Do your due diligence.

Ground Rule #5: Find support groups. It can be one person. (Mine, for several of my crises, was Gary Halbert, who talked to me frequently while I went careening off the walls in new adventures.)

Again, choose carefully — even your best pals may not be up for you leaving them in the dust, while you obliterate their excuses and go after your goals. Better to find like-minded colleagues already bloodied in entrepreneurial or life experiences.

Ground Rule #6: If you’re gonna do it…

… DO IT.

Don’t dink around, or do it half-assed. Don’t hurt anyone else. Research, prepare, gird thy loins. Then get busy.

Ground Rule #7: You go, girl.

Remember to enjoy the ride. Never allow despair to freeze you up. Get done what you need to get done, go deep, inhale and relish every detail, and get your gusto on.

Keep a journal, cuz your grandkids will wanna read it.

We only get one ticket, for one ride in this life. The big secret is: You’re in charge of your own script. Yes, a lot that happens will be unplanned, unfair and unwanted.

But for the rest of it, you’re in charge. Unless you choose not to be.

You don’t need to do what anyone else does. Find your own groove, and ride that puppy for all it’s worth. If you fail, you fail. Get back up, re-adjust, figure it out…

… and start again. Or move sideways into something else.

You can also choose to remain where you are. Absolutely no shame in that. The world needs a vast mob content to follow orders. It’s freakin’ scary when you wake up and realize you’re operating without a safety net — and it’s okay to not take that path (no matter how much the distant sirens call to you).

Just never forget that you’re choosing your path. Be at peace with yourself once that decision is made.

One last trick: Try to leave the world a better place, will ya?

Stay frosty,


P.S. What do you think of all this? Love to hear your thoughts, in the comments.


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  • Pete Moring says:

    Great post – I’ll be 61 in a couple of weeks and looking forward to yet another mid-life-crisis. at least, I hope I am. Either that or I’m quietly going bonkers here.

    Love reading these posts of yours John. Right from the hip and no messing 🙂

    Cheers ….. Pete.

    • John Carlton says:

      There’s a fine line between “bonkers” and “rationally screwing with everyone else’s head”. I have two main goals in life now:

      1. For just 5 minutes, I want to be as happy as my Jack Russell terror is every time she goes on a walk. That kind of total bliss intrigues me no end. And…

      2. I want to cause as much upheaval in as many people’s minds as possible… forcing at least a few to begin thinking at a deeper level. It’s lonely, being one of only a handful of folks in the game who know how to Critical Think. (Tongue firmly in cheek.)

      Thanks for the post.

    • Helen Lee says:

      I’d like to have the self esteem of my cat!

      Great post. Steve Jobs would have been proud of what you wrote.

  • John,

    Great post.

    And your JRT achieves that bliss which intrigues you for some of the reasons you state: Shit’s gonna happen no matter what you do to hide from it.

    Better to run straight at it. Then you can lick it if it smells like fun (ass for a dog). Growl and snap at it if it isn’t fun. Piss on it if it hits you indifferently. But for God’s sake, run right up to that sonofabitch and see what’s there.

    Just might be a bone in it for ‘ya.

    Worse case, you get a little ass on you. And as all dogs know, that ain’t fatal.

  • John Lloyd says:

    John I think that’s your best post yet as far as I’m concerned.

    I too ran off with a band for a couple of years, was the best mid life crisis a man could hope for.

    I hope for many more.

    Kind Regards.

    • John Carlton says:

      Thanks for the note, John. Here’s to smoky, beer-sodden joints still hoppin’ long after everyone else has gone to bed, and the music that propels living life well…

  • Kevin Rogers says:

    Wow… so I’m not the only one waking up in a cold sweat over how easily this could all go away?

    I feel better already.

    The nasty bitch about getting older and wiser is that while experience affords us better weaponry – wisdom reminds us how cheaply it’s put together.

    If we’re lucky, with age we continue to accumulate things to love and with them, higher stakes for encountering tragedy. No amount of privilege can shield any one of us from the reality that time passes and planes crash and cancers grow.

    Luckily, the rules are the same for everybody. Which leaves us only one solution.

    Just go!

    Love the logo, John. Race ya to the tattoo parlor.

    • John Carlton says:

      Great note, K-man. Thanks.

      And, from what I hear, you don’t have room on your body for another tattoo, until you get all those prison tat’s burned off…

      I think that was you I heard that about…

  • Sweeney says:

    Try to leave the world a better place.

    Sadly my generation couldn’t seem less concerned with such a thing..

    • John Carlton says:

      There are more folks your age who think like you than you realize, Sweeney. The “thinkers” are a minority in every generation…

      … and you could do worse than trying to find some of them.

      The tyranny of the majority means that the culture will always tilt toward the mediocre, and the cruel, and the selfish. But it’s the minority in every generation who accomplish the spectacular.

      They’re out there. Many are just as isolated as you seem to feel… however, with social media, they’re also a lot easier to find.

      Hold on tight when you uncover another one… they’re good company.

      • Hey John-
        It does seem like the majority is always wrong, and often vehement in their defense of their “wrongness”. It can be scary to stand apart and see what’s really going on around you.
        Thanks for the great post, and all the others that make me feel like there may be other people who are at least trying to think and not just buying the cultural trance. (It seems like the government and most media outlets read George Orwell as an instruction manual.)

    • Ian says:

      Hey Sweeney,

      I think Occupy Wall Street shows that the younger generation is not just talking about change but doing something. ‘Doing it’ is John’s ground rule #6 and by far the most difficult.

      Awesome post John. Love it.

      • Oliver Baumbach says:

        I’m not trying to pick a fight here, but occupy wall street was a headless chicken.
        Any movement that drives change has to have action and direction. Work and a goal. You can’t have a succesful anything without both of them.
        Work without a goal won’t get you anywhere.
        A goal without work won’t get you anywhere.
        I also do not agree with the political views of a majority of occupy wallstreet, but that’s not the question.

  • Jeff Walker says:

    “We only get one ticket, for one ride in this life. The big secret is: You’re in charge of your own script.”

    Love it. So true.

    John… thanks for a great ride every time I read one of your blog posts. I love to read great writing.

    • John Carlton says:

      You know, Jeff, the one thing I’d tell myself… if I could time-warp back to have a quick chat with my younger slacker self… is “Don’t get distracted by the pain of change. It’s very manageable, doesn’t leave a scar… and I swear that you’ll learn to enjoy it (though you won’t realize this as you struggle through the toughest stages).”

      That’s it — don’t get all ferklempshed and frozen up over the thought of how much turmoil will arrive immediately after you make the decision to change.

      If I knew that one simple truth, I would’ve changed earlier. No regrets, of course, but I use this as a metaphor when I try to lob advice at someone.

      It’s our movie, and we really can be the director, producer, writer and lead actor. It’s startling to accept this, but for those of us who have kick-started major change in our lives (and I know, because you told me, that you went through similar radical change) there’s no other way to go.

      Thanks for the note. Glad you enjoyed the ramblings…

  • mark says:

    “Almost Cut My Hair”

    I go back to the early 80’s when I didn’t have any cash and just hitch hiked to Toronto regularly to see the best blues bands at Albert’s Hall with my last 10 or
    20 bucks.

    Nothin’ like it. And I usually hooked up with someone who had “smokeables” and crashed
    on couches of strangers.Funny,how I thought back then.

    But now that I’ll be 49 in January I have to still pay the bills like everyone else. And go for my dream writing for and representing blues bands. it’s been hit and miss for me, and I know I have to keep working at it regardless of my own situation.

    Funny, I would rather jam at my local club than watch TV a movie because I know I’m
    with people who love blues. It’s a beautiful thing. The occasional beer party too. Not often though, too hard on the body now.

    But I won’t really cut my hair..

    Mother Nature bit me in the ass with the male pattern baldness crap,and lucky me,gave that to me for free.

    But go for what you want guys and do just one thing. Don’t think that if you try even 2 or 3 different businesses you’ll succeed.
    Chances are you won’t. You won’t be focused.

    I know shit but I know that I need to do just that. I love the internet for writing, but it’s turned even focused writers like me into zombies and ADD addled people.

    And John you’re right, if we don’t go for the gusto, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

    Mark “In Cold As A Bugger Canada”

  • rob says:

    From:Rob Joy

    Dear JC

    Man this post really has hit the ball outta the park my man…

    Here is why…

    When I was a kid I knew something was not quite right with the people around me they portrayed this ‘fake’ life they led by saying how much they enjoyed their 9-5 to me.

    I knew this was total bullshit…I could see it in their eyes that they might have had all these ‘things’ we are brain-washed into gettin…yet there was something STILL missin.

    Grew up in single parent low income area and although at the time I did not know any different…

    I knew things where not quite right…I started to develop my ‘bullshit-detector’ from about 7-8 years of age…

    Like you, I too…when you grow up like I did…your bullshit detector would go off almost daily…

    Started to question stuff…

    Started to question the so called ‘education’ system…much to the pure astonishment of my teachers…

    …one took great offence to me sticking my hand up and askin how is this gonna help me when I leave school…

    There was also massive problem with authority…

    I questioned things that did not ‘sound’ right…was demoted down to some sort of ‘spec-ed’ class for kids…

    …who did not do well in the class for behavioural or learning reasons.

    To which I greatly objected and told the ‘powers-to-be’ that there was nothing wrong me that there is something ‘wrong’ with the education system because NONE of what they where teachin me…

    Interested me, NONE of it seemed to be of any real use outside of the class room…

    I served many lunch time suspensions which escalated to seeing the school councillor who was not all there neither…

    Than it got worse threw high school and served internal suspension from school for one week of solitary confinement in admin office building…with nothing to do but kill time.

    Like I was up for murder one, or some HUGE crime.

    This was second year at high school.

    I can still remember that room, the smell.

    Teachers by that stage where not able to handle me…as I flat out refused to be apart of the ‘herd’…

    I left before graduating because I wanted nothing more to do with school, EVER.

    They even made massive fuss on local TV stations about all the so called top of the class peeps who where earmarked for place into college (we call it ‘uni’-short for university)

    When I left school I’d reckon I had some sort of mid life crisis and did not mind it to be honest…

    …I was so over stuff and wanted new start like 70’s rock icon I had to re-invent myself or be forgotten all together.

    I than found booze, and the drug culture which allowed all those suppressed feeling of angry well up and EXPLODE.

    Few court appearances for minor offences…started to dull the energy for regular visit from local police patrols…

    Than one thing that shit me was lack of ‘common sense’ approach to lotta things in life…

    I too found ‘control-freaks’ who had issues un-resolved from their own misfortunes…

    Spill over and try to pollute those that here in bee’s-dick whisker of these screwed up individuals whose only nirvana was manipulating others without them knowing they are trying to hold them down…

    Now I’m grateful for this some what non- traditional up briggin…because it gave me skill sets that have served me well since…

    I had some other mid life crisis, one after my first time of being heart broken…at age of 20 where…

    …I some how managed to ‘hit’ the reset button inside me and move off in another direction…

    Few other minor life experiences until I settled down to be a father for while than again running into another mid life crisis at age 32 when the mother of my children decided that living inside a house large enough to house three families…

    One street back from major tourist beach simular to Bondi Beach in Australia, or maybe Venice beach CA, or even Malibu…

    …was not for her that living in boon docks of surbia and being manipulated by her over bearing parents was more appealing after 11 years…

    We had struggled like hell for years than BOOM!

    I got lucky break and income went up little so I moved my little family ocean side for much deserved relocation and ‘fresh’ start to our lives…

    …chance to get my ex away from her toxic / interfering family who where all Christian fundamentalist.

    I don’t have any issues with religion if that is your nirvana…

    However I DON’T agree people try to cram it down you like they are trying to force you to eat 2 kilo steak in one mouth full…it aint gonna happen and you’ll only fry few brain cells in the process…

    Keep your inside thoughts to yourself about religion unless you are specifically asked for advice on how to live, where to live and how many times you can have sex…really that was freakin experience that taught me a lot .

    Than having another mid life crisis when I came home one day the mother of my children was howling like you would not believe telling me she ‘had’ to leave…

    Shot threw with the kids and her parents terrenin up to rub salt into the wound that had been struck into my soul…ranting and raving like you would NOT believe…

    ‘Minnie mid life crisis’….

    I actually did apply for NEW special forces unit that was formed about the same time as the ‘ex’ leaving…

    …it was formation of Australia’s first real commando unit in 2003 they ran HUGE publicity thing on the TV and in all the papers…

    Only other spec opps unit is the feared S.A.S (special air service) who are toughest mothers we have in Australia…

    …that unit that has won many battles since WW2 they are based in Perth, Western Australia.

    (There might be smaller ancillary spec opp unit’s now…I don’t get into that as girls, surfing, writing copy, playing guitar and getting stuff done is was more interesting.)

    I contacted the recruitment office and attended lengthy interview process and selection process, which was series of interviews-tests-other things

    …including almost bare knuckled fight in the recruitment office with officer who portrayed herself as part of recruiting team…

    When in fact she was apart of the commando unit I suspect because on her name badge her position was psychiatrist and the rank of lieutenant with one red crown pip and funny embalm on her epilates…with bright red lanyard…

    The reason why we almost had bare knuckle fight was she insulted me to see how I would react, this was apart of the selection process looking back on it, however at the time.

    I was deeply insulted they she was busting my balls about something…

    …I really DID want to do with deep military history on my dads side…she was insulting my application, my dad’s family connection, other things…

    I was at the time under the impression this was it for me…once.

    I make up my mind I’m gonna do something…I damn well do it!

    ….Come hell or high water…wont give up until the goal has been achieved regardless of how long it takes…

    (which is why I have hounded YOU soooo much bout freelancer course JC)

    It got THAT heated between us by me insulting her back by saying how any girl can have high rank in the military yet NOT (at that time) be allowed to enter the battle field in front line…be allowed to give orders and given other officer like power.

    I than went on the attack (not personally) I ‘dressed’ this officer down by picking up on the fact what she was telling me, what she said about my application was mere BULLSHIT.

    That she failed to correctly I.D. herself as mental health care expert, with officer rank, she did not formally introduce herself…she went on the attack from the time I sat on the chair.

    So I began to tell her that very ‘Gordon Ramsay’ like manner and even called her ‘princess’ to which she took much offence to saying she is an officer and NO one.

    Speak to her like that, in her career with the military to which I replied I was not in the army at that stage if she did not like the way I was speaking to her that she could insert any sized dildo inside of her and go fuck her self.

    That final remark had the ‘MP’s’ instantly ushered into room and they did not look like they where too happy with me…

    (can’t imagine why it was fair she busted my balls I gave it back ten fold)…

    …they promptly escorted me outside of the recruitment building.

    Threw side entrance and the army told me not to write for any sort of enquiry into who or where I failed for 12 months…which also caused me to tell the M.P’s to also go fuck themselves.

    I than recently decided to kill that issue inside my head about what…

    ‘really’ on with my application…to which I got one page letter back from the army telling me they where sincerely sorry about the experience I had back than.

    The recruitment process for the spec opps had been changed after review of NOT getting enough people to accelerated training which was boot camp and a pre-entry spec opps course of about 12-16 weeks…

    Before being allowed to sit for the spec opps course as a trainee commando…

    I was welcome to re-apply for the same commando unit 4RAR based in New South Wales…to which I declined since than middle east has erupted into modern ‘Vietnam’

    So I guess I lucked out as we have lost many great warriors as many of the Aussie that have been killed have been from both of the spec opps units…few from regular mentoring task force.

    Sorry I digress little…getting back to the bust up of my family…

    …it took me two years to defrag myself from that another two years to find that damn ‘reset’ button and only few weeks ago having another mid life crisis by tossing out all my wardrobe…

    ….and going out and getting some more hip clothes to look younger as…

    I’m 36 my clothes made me look like a ‘dad’ instead of 36 year old, buffed and leaned good looking man with his head finally in better place with clearer focus on life.

    Tell you what those clothes once had got me few occasional looks now…

    I’m getting attention even more by even young girls 15 years younger…which does wonders for your ‘man-hood’…

    I tell you I think having ‘mid-life-crisis’ as those in society call it is healthy it allows you to clear out the clutter inside you mind and also clutter you gather threw out life’s journey…

    Like any rock or pop star goes threw the same thing yet they call it ‘reinvention’ or music artist to me it’s same friggin thing…

    so those that coin these terms and phrases need to get friggin life…take up drinking get a band together

    I think mid-life-crisis is natural way for the human brain to defrag the shit in our lives that clog us down and allows us to hit the –reset button…

    And start from new point of reference so that we can arc closer toward where we really want to be the problem is that we as humans get taken away from the arc in which we are trying to traverse by life and the things in our lives.

    I’m not mental health expert all my training and awareness has come from ‘school of hard knocks’ I’m not sure if my response is one of which that is going to resinate with your post JC.

    It’s something I also wanted to contribute.

    Later BIG D.O.G


  • JC,

    Good stuff. I love the spirit and the letter of what you just wrote.

    A while back I remember buying and reading these massive volumes from some fringe group in Las Vegas that started out telling people how to play better poker, and ended up turning into a quasi religion/life philosophy.

    One thing that always stuck with me was the principle that it’s more important to play a hand well than to win, because if you get in the habit of playing well every time, you’ll end up winning more often overall.

    I don’t play poker but I’ve found that’s a damn good philosophy for living life, and I appreciate the way you frame it all here.

    Better than my second cup of coffee!

    (Now to brew my second cup of coffee… )


    • John Carlton says:

      Coffee, good.

      Yeah, Garf, you’ve hit upon the dirty little secret behind all successful philosophies — namely, that it all boils down to commitment to be all-in, and immerse yourself in that elusive “quality” that Pirsig talked about in “Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance”. Can’t be explained simply, so cults develop around it, and long series of books are written. But basically, it’s just fundamental awareness and discipline. You don’t need the cult. A couple of like-minded pals will suffice.

      Thanks for the note.

  • That was a great post, John. I love your life lessons. They kick mucho ass.

  • Neville says:


    ::stands up and claps::

  • Bob Baran says:

    The teacher appears…

    I’ve watched my old life dissolve while simultaneously experiencing the contrasting joy and wonder of my dream life.

    The thing is I watched myself “let go” … Stopped holding on. Made decisions that surprised me. Deep inside some kind of knowingness breaking the rope – the knots I tied myself down with.

    The dark night of my soul was another precursor to the dawn of a beautiful day – and all I had to do was let it happen – get out of my own way.

    • John Carlton says:

      It’s a cliche, but I clearly remember experiencing the basics more vividly when I was clearing the fog of initial big decisions — the air felt crisper, sounds outside were clearer and more pleasant, I smelled, saw and tasted things I hadn’t noticed before… just a hyper-awareness descended that made life delicious.

      That’s why folks who’ve been through it talk in such colorful terms about the process. It really is an awakening of your humanness…

    • Michelle says:

      Bob – beautifully written. You have summarized John’s Rant perfectly!

  • Russ says:

    Wow John. This post comes at a(nother) critical mid-life crisis! Perfect timing.

    I can certainly relate to the feeling of not fitting in – of figuring out that nobody really had all their shit together and that I could NEVER be happy in the corporate world – even though, for the sake of my family, I lived that gig for over half my adult life.

    Inspired by guys like you, I stepped off the merry-go-round two years ago and established myself as a freelance writer. Honestly, they haven’t been the easiest two years of my life, but I wouldn’t trade them for those 104 steady paychecks I would have received!

    My relationship with my wife is incredibly reinvigorated… (yeah, that 27 year old’s crisis considered throwing that under the bus for a fling… sure glad I didn’t!!)

    My business if finally getting traction – in fact tonight I’m a guest panelist at an entrepreneurial event!

    Thanks for clarifying some of those muddy thoughts surrounding reinvention, new directions and choices. And good luck on your “semi”-retirement!


  • Orestes says:

    I have to say that this is really the best post I´ve readen so far.I do love the way you write and how truthful you are.

    I´ve gotten many mid-life-crisis in my life but I thanks God I´ve never been afraid to make changes when I have to and that´s why my
    first came when I left the little Hitlers
    down in Cuba as I don´t belong to the vast
    mob content of this world who follow orders
    and never will(love to be a rebel and go
    against the flow).

    For me you are the best writer and a great
    inspiration for me and for many and that´s
    why I´m already exciting to know about your
    new shit you´ve got planned…and about your
    logo I love it.

    Keep on your good work and again gracias!


  • Ed Herbert says:


    I gravitated to your blog post today and read and read and read with my jaw and eyes wide open saying to myself, that’s fucking me right this very moment!

    I was in a 6 year relationship and my ex-girlfriend was listening to me talk about my dream of moving to California and starting a business and for some reason this time she said to me “why don’t you just go?” (the most unselfish act another human being has ever done for me and a the biggest gift I have ever received!) and in that moment I decided YES and booked my flight, left my country two weeks later, barely got through customs and am ready your post in a Starbucks in Downtown LA just having taken on my first paying client in my new businesses!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and writing the post, it was an emotional read for me and gave me clarity and self-perspective on my actions and reinforced that my decision to go was the right one and I’m proud of my choices and have enjoyed every step of my journey which has run the entire emotional gamut and I feel more ALIVE than I ever have in my entire life and am a more complete version of the real me!

    I have kept a journal and would love to share my story with you down the road and look forward to meeting you in person!

    Cheers John,
    and thank you,

  • Peter Wright says:

    Have to agree with the consensus of opinion that this is one of your best yet.

    The new logo is wonderful too, it would look great as a coat of arms should you get a knighthood for your contributions to English literature(Which you most definitely deserve).You would know better than I how it would be described in heraldic terms. “Lord Carlton of Ink” would have a nice ring to it. Sorry I think that is reserved for the Brits.

    Enjoy your semi-retirement.

    • John Carlton says:

      Gary Halbert knighted himself, so he was Sir Gary of Halbert or something — found a Halbert coat of arms, and went for it.

      I’m pretty sure my ancestors are pure working class stock and canon fodder, though. Except maybe the weirdo 32nd cousin who got into hotels.

      I identify more with the thieves in the forest (though I’d never wear tights) than the royalty in the castle. My greatest honor, as always, has been to have a good group of mates egging me on…

      Thanks for the note, Peter.

  • Steve says:

    It’s the Critical Thinking part that gets me.

    It’s the tunnel vision and narrowness of one’s thoughts and ideas that really frustrates me more than anything.

  • Stephen Bray says:

    Ha, I just loved all these mid life crises, and can relate to most. There’s a fourth one in my case cus I’ve a daughter who will just turn eight tomorrow. She comes home with masses of homework from school. I go friggin ‘ape’. Nothing happens, so I organise the press, and loads of famous people out here in Turkey and we have a national anti-homework campaign. Actually we don’t have to do much, just the thought of an army of aged rock stars appearing in newspapers and t.v. channels was enough for the directors of education to call it a day and ‘cave’.

    One to the 60 year old anarchist with the chip!

    Then a new head is appointed who parades the school and tells the boys to get their hair cut. I give them a line: ‘I’m fine with short hair at school, but the other fourteen hours of the day are my affair and I’ll wear my hair as I like. What do you suggest?’

    The new headmaster goes ‘ape’, but he’s no longer pressing anyone to get their hair cut.

    Strangely enough, I get a lot of joy from conforming. Meeting deadlines, attempting to do a good job and probably never quite meeting my own standards. Indeed, in many ways I think now is the best time to live?

  • Steve says:

    By the way, The Logo would look awsome on a Harley.

  • Bond Halbert says:


    This post came at the perfect time for me and as always, your advice is spot on. I view your blog as the best cyber life coach in the world.

    Thanks for being you and sharing.

    • John Carlton says:

      Hey, Bondo! Glad to be here… especially as all this mortality keeps getting top press, forcing me to think about legacy and bullshit like that.

      God, I miss the good old days of running into chaos and adventure without a thought to how stiff my muscles will be after…

  • Hey John, excellent post and some real food for thought here (the good kind – not like broccoli or Brussels sprouts)

    I think a lot of us,as we grow, forget how to dream. Stats show that approx. 90% of children in kindergarten (the time when we are all dreaming of becoming astronauts, superheros, firefighters and ballerinas) are highly creative – but that number drops to around 14% by the time we’re out of high school. Why? Largely because as we grow, we are forced to conform to their ‘fit the box’ cookie cutter models. Then, as we age, we get so bogged down in today, trying to climb out of yesterdays garbage while holding onto today. We actually regret tomorrow because it means more collection calls and one day deeper in the doo-doo. But in order to realize our dreams we must first have a DREAM. Your 3 step strategy – desire a plan, make a plan, work the plan, brings to mind some of the best advice I received from a highly successful woman I had the privilege of being mentored by, a couple years ago. She said, success is not rocket science. It’s been done over and over again. The problem with a lot of people is that they try to re-invent the wheel rather than use the wheel to get where they need to go. The hard part has been done. To be successful, all you need to do is figure out how you want to be successful (what does that look like to you), find a mentor who already got there, draw yourself a road map (based on the steps they took) then take your first step.

    But in this world of web, where most everything comes free and easy, people just want it handed to them. They dont want to work for it (I call it “the little red hen syndrome” LOL 🙂 But like the story goes, if you want to eat the bread, you need to be prepared to plant the seed, harvest the wheat, grind the grain and bake the bread. No one over conquered mount Everest by wishing to be on top – they climbed up, one step at a time.

    I appreciate your wise words of wisdom and the reminder that we can do anything we set our minds to. (ya, you gave me that!)

    For those who dare to dream and take that first step, they come to realize once they’ve reached the top that the success was not found on the top of the mountain but within the journey itself.

    Sally O’

    • John Carlton says:

      Hi Sally. I’ve now had the pleasure of “teaching” two classes (one session each) for universities, over Skype. (Xavier, and the Missouri school of journalism.) I try to kick their butts, but they’re kinda numb. Early 20s, and already numb.

      I love learning and reading, but I had to survive the very dedicated efforts of 90% of my teachers to kill those loves with boredom. The revolution in learning is happening, slowly…

  • Geoffrey says:

    Dude, anybody ever tell you that you have a gift for the written word?

    Seriously, it’s like you crawl in my head on these dialogues I have with myself all the time.

    Kind of spooky, actually.

    Anywho…I’m one of the walking zombies. Haven’t been able to shake it.

    At least, not yet. Every day I feel like I’m a bit closer to what it is I’m suppose to be doing to make myself happy. At least for a little bit.

    But, what I’ve been doing ain’t cuttin’ it.

    Then there is that whole deal about making sure your looking after those you must.

    Hell, haven’t been doing that very well the past few years. Existing business is off 60% from where it was a few years ago.

    But, I keep plowing through same shit different day.

    Knowing full well nothing changes until I decide to change it.

    Maybe tomorrow, I’ve got to go to my kiddo’s basketball game.

    When he was a baby, he was the baddest dribbler in the whole neighborhood!

    Over and Out. And, Thanks for crawling in my head.

    • John Carlton says:

      Start changing today, Geoffrey. Get on Amazon and order up a few biographies, and READ ’em. That’s your homework assignment from me. Small step, easily done… but because you’re being proactive, it will cause shocking rumbles in your life. Do it. Today. Don’t dink around.

      And enjoy the game.

  • alan says:

    My vocabulary escapes me how hard the post hits on what is missing in todays culture

    Equally well on the steps to achieving your the life you want by accepting change instead of fighting it

    Love the logo – it is a work of art

    Enjoy your descent into semi retirement

    Although you never strike me as a man who eases into anything chosen to do.

  • Den Curley says:

    Hey John,
    Very intriguing and inspiring without all that greasy “inspirational speaker” mumbo-jumbo that’s out there. I can see why my brother Jimmy often speaks so highly you.

  • Hey John,

    Great stuff. Especially “dig out the license plate first” – HA!

    Crisis precedes transformation. You have to make the decision to take a new path before you can walk it.

    Otherwise we end up on autopilot with our habits and other people’s expectations running our lives. And all of this much more important as we get older.

    Once you can feel your clock ticking … the question is what do you REALLY want to do in the time you have left. And a quality midlife crisis is a SHORTCUT to that dream.

    My two cents,

    Dike Drummond MD

    • John Carlton says:

      My clock started ticking at 17 — I was in an off-road wreck that killed the driver, a fellow student. It kicked off my first mid-life crisis and I’ve never forgotten that lesson of how close we always are to the end of the ride…

  • alan little says:

    Yup, give yourself permission to figure out what you love then go freakin’ DO IT – now! So sorry but you’re not gonna live forever. Sure there’s likely loads of BS to cut through on the way, but bubba it’s all YOURS, around only as long as you permit it to exist. Own it and get over it.
    Thanks for stirring the proverbial pot once more, John.

  • Piotr Sienkiewicz says:


    Now we are talking!

    Your post is, actually too honest if we compare it with majority of sites about how to become successful in life. A lot of “experts” say about a law of attraction and most of them say about stepping into zones of happiness. I`m wondering how people believe in this bullshit!

    Unfortunately, many of them do, and if they feel total despair, I think, it is for them the last source of hope. But, what happens when they buy that stuff… and… unfotunately (for them) it does not work?

    Probably then, the worst things can happen…

    Anyway, Gary`s letters and your posts are in my library on top of my lectures.

    Thank you (I enjoyed it).

    • John Carlton says:

      I harbor some serious ill-will toward that “Secret” crap, because it IS such total bullshit. Action is the key-word to a successful life, not dreaming.

      Thanks for the note.

      • Marcin says:

        🙂 I found my home 🙂 One of these days I’ll write a lot about what I mean and about how you’ve helped me 🙂 All my life I thought I was alone, but then I discovered direct marketing…

        And the “secret” bull… here’s my take on it. We don’t have as much power over our lives as we would want to have…

        And the things we have are not all the creation of our thinking hard about it. The fact that we sometimes get what we always wanted isn’t connected with the thinking, but that we actually read the future…

        We think. We get it. But not because we were thinking. We were thinking because a part of us new we would get it.

        For me the question is “how to get it?” (the choice) not “will I get it?”.

        For whatever that’s worth…

        Cheers to more Action! Smart Action!

        Now I’m rambling… 🙂

        • Marcin says:

          p.s. You can turn off those annoying emoticons in the back-end of wordpress: settings-> writing and then in the Writing settings uncheck the formating option

  • I hear you, brother Carlton. I’m going to be 59 years old soon, and every day I wonder what the hell I’m supposed to be doing with my life. Now, thanks to you, I know the answer. Develop a logo! (Just kidding.) I heard a comedian once say that the reason grown-ups always ask little kids what they want to be when they grow up is because … they’re looking for ideas!

  • LOVED THIS POST… Why? “First and foremost, take care of those who depend on you. Don’t act irrationally, or without a well-thought-out plan. This is especially critical if there are children involved.”
    This is something very important to me/family unit, and it’s HUGE effect on the world!!!

    • John Carlton says:

      Yeah, I know the term “mid-life crisis” is loaded with perceptions of men leaving their family, and that’s why my counter-advice is #1. Even if a life-change involves separations from prior arrangements, you’re still responsible for taking care of those who depend on you, financially AND emotionally.

      There are multiple ways to have both a great family life, AND follow your dreams. People do it all the time. Only the poor planners create massive chaos…

  • Joel says:


    I’m 54, and thanks for giving me a different perspective on the “mid-life crisis” thing. I don’t get the buy a little sports car or motorcycle or get a new young chick and you’ll be satisfied crap.

    The hard part is going your own way without crapping on the ones who depend one you, whether they’re employees or family. But sometimes they really feel like anchors.

    So it’s nice to hear that all those other entrepreneurs are constantly going through crises, too. It’s too easy to think you’re the only one dealing with so much crap.

    Thanks for the boost!

    • John Carlton says:

      Yeah, it’s important to know you’re not alone. (That’s the key benefit of “talk therapy” with a good shrink, too, by the way.) Most change doesn’t really require a stone-cold ultimatum to the people close to you… but some changes do. That’s why you gotta be a grown-up. You really can manage a family life that the kids will love, and still fulfill your dreams. Just plan to make it work.

  • Dennis Morris says:

    Very nice logo! Great message and advice as well. It may be called mid-life crisis by some or going through a dark night of the soul by others. Always uncomfortable, frustrating, and darn depressing at times. It’s also an opportunity for change, exciting learning, and a new path to move down.
    Thanks, again.

  • Vince says:

    Ground Rule #8… Keep your guitar tuned… there’s bound to be urges to start another band with each mid life crisis… no matter what age you have them! For me it was buying a muscle car and a drumset in my mid forties?

    • John Carlton says:

      Actually, I just learned how freakin’ cheap it is to rent studios for recording these days. So one of my projects is to record every song I’ve ever written since I was a kid. (I’ve written a ton, too.) I’ll totally enjoy that process.

      But I can’t hack the smoke or the late hours anymore, not to mention the ego-management of running or being in a band. I’d love to find another group to sit in with once a month, but that’s a rare situation. Still, I’m open…

  • Colin Power says:

    I think Robert Ringer says something like “Nothing happens till something moves”….Action.

    Thankfully my wife and family supports my many Mid-life events…

    Biographies were ordered a few days before your post:)

    This year moved back to the Beach and did the unthinkable …Became an Employee after 25yrs of Biz.

    Being an employee not sitting so well…had to try it and build up the energy for mid-life event no. ?

    Glad to say your posts are still the one’s I read in this internet blizzard of incoming crap.


  • Doc says:

    What do you think of all this? Well,

    That logo is some bad-ass-shit…awesome!

    …And I just want to know how is it you got all the answers?

    Anyway my favorite line is…

    They actually didn’t have a single coherent thought in their skulls.

    Thanks for sharing John, I loved it as always.


  • orvel says:

    Just like Yogi Berra said: “when you get to the fork in the road, take it”.
    Loved this story/rant/bloodletting
    Let’s toast middle aged moobs.

  • Hey, John.

    Thanks so much for this. I think I’m experiencing my third or fourth “mid-life” crisis right now. 🙂

    It’s good to remember to embrace the change and live it passionately.

  • Dave Bross says:

    And if for some reason your new path via crisis gets torpedoed unfairly, try to toss off the anger and get right into the next thing.

    Karma has got your back.

    When it happened to me the perpetrators all died horribly over the next 5-10 years (nothing I did, I never had to lift a finger)but I spent a year wasted with anger.
    My loss…again.

    More big clues on the path to “not to worry”

    Quite likely we were put here so we could learn to be kind to each other and to use our creativity/productivity to make things better.

    Maybe if we learn that we get the superpowers?

    We’ll see…

  • Jonathan says:

    Hey John,

    Good stuff. Although…chasing an inappropriate love interest was probably one of the best mistakes I ever made! 🙂

    As far as Ground Rule #2 goes, do you have any tips for keeping your lists organized? I find that without a good system for managing lists, I tend to keep clearing the same thoughts out of my head rather than making space for new ones.



  • brendan says:

    Oh good I’m not the only one. Hardest thing is to balance in doing something different but still involving wife and kids as they are my biggest Adventure. For something different wife and I are doing a fundraising walk together 50 klms at night thru the hills.Great post John.
    As Johny Cash sang-its hard for thee to kick against the pricks. Kick anyway
    cheers Brendan

  • Annissa says:

    John you are one crazy DUDE!! And you inspire the hell out of me:) I was so totally plugged in at 38 watching the life getting sucked right out of me while the Matrix used my life’s energy to fuel someone elses agenda. Until I took the red pill. A guy we both know named Joe offered it to me at a marketing conferrence. My life was turned upside down and sideways. Everything I thought I knew about life to that point was just some bullshit that I let get shoved down my throat by people who were too afraid to reach out grab life by the horns and ride it. I haven’t seen my comfort zone since and life has never been better. I now teach and consult and do what I love. It definatlely hasn’t been easy. In fact it’s been friggen Frightening!! I too am semi retired at the ripe young age of 43:) And I make alot more money than I made as a slave collecting a paycheck just a few years ago. Thank you for sharring your craziness with us. Your blog is one of my Favs!

  • Wes Thomas says:

    Some real grabbers John, always appreciated. though me thinks we over use midlife and crises. I seem to have always been in a state of transition and transformation with an occasional vision quest and few wakeup calls. Our vocabulary is too rich, our vision too broad, to use a rather limited and demeaning phrase. Try: I’m having another Mid-Life Epiphanies

  • Bernie says:

    “It’s freakin’ scary when you wake up and realize you’re operating without a safety net — and it’s okay to not take that path (no matter how much the distant sirens call to you).”

    I wish I could have read this in my twenties. I chose a military career out of high school which I should have aborted on the first chance. I could not stand it…I made it last too long. It ended up shaping my future life in a negative way.

    There are no safety nets in life. To quote one of my favorite bands from the 70’s..(I guess every point of refuge has its price. The Eagles: Lying eyes)

    I am in my early fifties and trying to start an online business. It has not been easy. But it has not been hard. I have wasted so much time. I think I should buy the Simple Writing Course. It could help me.

  • Eric Ruth says:

    John, your stuff speaks to me brother. You are a writer’s writer, in addition to your DR cred, which is unrivaled. Thanks for this post, it is SO timely for me now (and obviously evergreen since there’s always somebody going through the turbulence). Stay frosty, Eric

  • Bob Uslander says:

    Great post, John! I especially relate to the concept that we are writing and starring in our own big production, and we get to decide whether it’s a romantic comedy or a horror flick. We always have artistic control, even if we don’t always get to choose the supporting cast of characters.

    I’ve spent 20 years as an ER doctor, though 10 years ago I helped a good friend die from melanoma at 32. That set my life on a new path, and I’ve been riding the wave of my “mid-life crisis” since then.

    The ride is thrilling and tantalizing, but there are sharp outcroppings of coral just beneath the surface ready to rip me to shreds if I fall and let them. Ain’t gonna happen. Because I do have people counting on me and a clear understanding of what I’m here to do.

    I’m here to open minds and hearts and help “heal the healers.” Part of the healing comes from helping them see what you so eloquently described in this post– stop bitching about things and take control of your frigging life cause it’s the only one you get.

    Thanks for providing some additional words and concepts for my talks and posts.

    You’re a cool dude. And I love the logo!

  • Carlos says:

    You Know, I just turned 30 And I’m beggining somekind of life crisis…one that makes you think of priesthood and stuff..

    Nonetheless, great post!

  • Hal Hoadley says:

    Hey John, Sorry I came late to this party. I was out havin’ my 37th breakdown. or as you name it “mid-life crisis”. I still have the dreams of being the next guru to the masses. I pretty much write out my lists and follow through with them until I accomplish the task, or not, then move on and asking “what’s next”. Just wanted to tell you thanks for these rants, you sometimes make sense to me and that is scary in itself. Not your rants but me making sense out of them.
    Nice new ink at the top. I might just give your guy a call (email) and see what he can do for me. Started another income stream with mobile marketing and need a new logo.
    Keep on dreamin’


  • Gautam Sahai says:

    Hi John, Great Post. Next March, I’ll be 63 and I love your practical advice. All these years , I’ve found that learning some new skills keeps my enthusiasm and vigour in top form. Thanks for the post.

  • Mike Noone says:

    Hi John,
    Why is it that you provoke me so ? Just when I think I’m living on the edge you come along and push me off of it.
    I was once told by an old and wise lady that my archetype is the fool from the tarot pack.
    I was quite self righteously upoutraged about this until she said the in Medieval times, the fool was the only guy who could poke fun at the King.

    You’re some jester Mr Carlton and I want you to keep poking fun at all of us. Thank you..

    • John Carlton says:

      I’ve always identified with The Trickster (the Jungian term for the “fool” archetype)… which is one of the most mis-understood archetypes, and yet one of the most critical for a well-functioning society. (The news media is loathed by many exactly because they sometimes manage to do their job of irritating the powerful… total Trickster mentality, necessary for a free society.)

      Thanks for the note, Mike.

  • jack says:

    Thanks John, that’s a very deep and very inspirational post. Some people are afraid of success and never go after their dreams.
    Glad you got your logo, it looks like a completely realistic old time tattoo for sure.

  • Gene Rutt says:

    Hey John,

    Been following you for years. Much good advice and ideas. Coincidentally I just started a similar effort publishing a website and newsletter entitled “Where Did It Go?” based on the old adage that inside every older person is a younger person asking that question.
    I’m starting with some basic personal development info for folks who haven’t
    strayed outside the lines before, ie., attitude, kindness, goal setting, etc. I’m going to look at joining your Master Mind group as well. I’ve just turned 70 and with this just getting off the ground still have budgeting issues but I can feel it happening. In this day and time dealing with frustration is an important niche.

    Good luck with your project. Please sign up for mine: http://www.wherediditgo.net

    Gene Rutt

  • Clint says:

    Hey John,
    Thanks so much for writing this. It comes just at the time when i’m wrapping up two of my companies to start fresh and from the beginning.

    Your insight into mid life crises was awesome and made me realise its ok to have a few even if they’re early on. (I’m 24).

    Anyway, thanks again for the post. Im going to print it off!



  • Adil Amarsi says:

    Hey John,

    I loved reading this… but seriously speaking – do you have a satellite monitoring me for content lol?

    Nearly every time I come to this blog – you’re writing practically what I’m thinking about and giving me the answer!

    Any suggestions on which bio to read first?

    Thanks again,


    P.S. If the satellite is watching right now, please include in your next post about, “How to overcome nearly there syndrome” – it’s a common problem (apparently) amongst entrepreneurs that we feel we’re almost there but not quite.

    P.P.S. Bring on Movember!

  • Danielle says:

    Thanks John,
    I’ve always called them growth spurts because like it or not, they always force me to learn something new about myself, my world or act as a motivating slap-upside-the-head to get me moving.

    Coming up on one, can usually tell because there’s a feeling of discontent with everything. At 50 and change, this one should be a doozy.

  • margie says:

    Hey John
    At last a man who is a straight shooter. What an honest straight up no bull post. What you say would resonate with everyone NO exceptions. Over the years one thing has become glaringly obvious to me No matter how ‘special or different’ we THINK we are.. we are all the bloody same!( Aussie expression)-

  • ken ca|houn says:

    Hey John, that’s a great graphic up top. And I like your 7 rules, especially the first one. Having a family and customers who trust me, to take care of, is a responsibility and an honor. And your Rule #6, about getting things done..always an entrepreneur’s challenge, to research then Finish the projects. Starting a bajillion websites and bright ideas is easy.. it’s getting them finished, to market, producing money, then moving on to the next one, that counts.

    Talking about midlife crises, I’ve heard the term, though at 47 I’m having a blast.

    In fact I just took up electric guitar for the first time last week (thanks rocksmith), getting a new Ibanez GRX20L (great starter axe), and playing along with concert DVDs for Pink Floyd “Money”, Rollsing Stones, AC/DC and Eric Clapton and more… lots of fun. Especially fun is doing jazz/blues licks like those Em7s over classic rock.

    And my family keeps me young, especially our 4-year old Shih-Tsu… not a day goes by without her brightening up life — I learn a Lot about enjoyment of life from dogs and kids, always have. They put it all in perspective, thankfully. Thanks for another great post, John – I like hearing your thoughts as always — good stuff.

    to making your life ticket one helluva an “E” ride


  • Colin says:

    That’s a great, insightful post – thank you.

    My mid-life crisis is a bit unconventional – a return to respectability!

    When I was young I realized something was very seriously out of kilter with society, and I didn’t want to participate so I dropped out – spent 17 years living on the streets of Europe as a busker.

    Then I spent 12 god-forsaken years on the end of a telephone doing IT customer support. When I could no longer stand it I packed up and came to Thailand. Been in South East Asia for nearly three years now, and I just landed a job teaching English at a university in north Thailand.

    For the first time in my life I’m going to work wearing a shirt and tie and decent shoes – on my walk to campus the locals smile and greet me with respect – such a difference from being gawped at as just another shabby farang shuffling along.

    One of the courses I’m down to teach they call “English for Advertisement”. I thought, surely they mean English for Marketing. But, no – yesterday they gave me the course description and they actually want me to teach how to write advertising copy. My initial thought was “I don’t have that skill and if I did I would be earning shed loads of money DOING it….” Then I thought it could be kind of fun.

    So, I’ve been scouring the net for material I can use as a basis for teaching, which is what led me to this blog.

    So, life has taken an unexpected turn, and I’m energized and confident at least for the near future – and it’s a long long time since I felt confident about the future. The kids I’m teaching are great – I love them, and it might sound tacky but I’m genuinely grateful for the chance to give something back to Thailand.

    One message I can give people: cultivate a sense of gratitude. Thank the birds for their beautiful song. Thank the trees for being your external lung and providing you with oxygen. Thank your fellow man for acts of kindness and be forgiving when they wrong you (they have their own issues…). Life really is very simple, and we are very, very good at complicating it.

  • James says:

    Man oh man. I think this is the best part of this article.

    ”Your success will irritate the hell out of everyone, because you obliterate the standard excuses (“You can’t win against The Man”… “The little guy doesn’t stand a chance”… “It’s hopeless to even try winning at biz”… and so on). No one likes to have their excuses obliterated.”

    There is one fascinating thing about success I have noticed. It is the people close to you who get irritated about you forward strides. Your uncles, parents, sisters, brothers, neighbors and even spouse.

    When you stick to your plan and move one, they back down and look for ways of taking credit for your success.

  • Michelle says:

    Great post (have taken onboard your tip about checking out license plates before digging car out of snow!)

    It’s interesting how the stars align; Taking Action seems to be my theme of the week. It has come up in podcasts (Trouble with Freedom), out of the Fast Web Formula 3 conference with James Schramko and now I find it here to!

    Love the reminder that every “crisis” is the opportinity for change or at least the beginning of the warning signs. Good to remember that being “grown-up” about it may make all the difference in the long run.

  • rob says:



    Any closer to re-release dude?


    P.S. Have to say sorry bout the long reply to your new post….this one really rocked inner sactum of my being and it kinda just ‘popped’ outta me…

    …so if I over stepped my welcome let me know man….somethin in me snapped after readin your post…(good that is)….this post was soemthing…I could relate to heart felt level….

    • John Carlton says:

      Finishing it up now. Had some delays with the bonus, which is essential to the course — it’s the core of the updates for modern freelance happiness. Maybe another couple of weeks, but definitely on the front burner, all details now. Sorry for the delay, but don’t get into any magical thinking here, Rob — there’s nothing in this manual that’s going to do it for you. It’s a roadmap, and all the insight and advice I have for freelancers. I’m happy that you’re excited and ready to go, but you’ll still have some work ahead of you when the manual is re-released. (And I’m sure you’ll do fine.)…

      • rob joy says:



        Totally get what you mean dude…

        I’ve been looking for that ‘road-map’ since 2005…

        I understand that…

        I need to polish my writing, which is why I have been soooo keen to get on the ‘wanting-to-write-world-class-copy-and-get-paid’ which will be nice change…

        Thnak you SO much for keeping me in the loop big dog! truly appreciate it man…

        Later man!


        P.S. Aside from copy…there is one thing I’d like to get your insight into…

        I’ve started to play guitar again have found tips of my fingers have gone hard like concrete skin is peeling off….and there is even dent on one finger tip where you can see where strings have been touching is this normal…

        ….when you start carnking in the hours?

        • John Carlton says:

          Playing guitar well involves changes to your body, starting with calluses on all fingers on your left hand, and a shredded nail on your right index digit. You must build strength in your left hand through the wrist, while training a gazillion muscles to obey minute demands to hit notes precisely. Vibrato, power chords, finger-picking, muting, thrashing and harmonics all involve committed training and physical changes within your anatomy. If you stand with an electric axe, you’ve got weight distribution affecting your shoulders. Playing big acoustics moves your right shoulder outward in odd ways. Playing on tiny stages involves balancing acts so you can hit your stomp boxes without falling over, while still maintaining control and observation of your equipment. Playing drunk, while singing, involves even more dedicated practice…

          It ain’t easy. But the difficulty keeps the wahoo’s from spoiling things. And once you gain mastery, you wouldn’t change a minute of the process getting there. Modern electric guitars remain the most beautiful objects ever produced by civilization…

          • rob says:

            Thanks John…

            I appreciate your thoughts…and I have already started to experience sheer challenge of getting my fingers into correct position on fret board…and being able to create the right octave…and have found one website that offers video lessons, and have also got audio cd where it has a booklet and shows what cords and how it is meant to sound than it has same tracks again…

            …without guitar so you can get into ‘groove’ at the moment…

            I’m trying to master four or five tracks of the Foo Fighters who I have been drawn to…(not excluding Led Zepp-Who-Stones-Creedance)…

            …each time I practice I go threw some simple scale excercise to get hand eye…and increasing and decreasing speed…to get myself moving freely up and down fret board…

            I find it soothing to the soul to do this and find myself sometimes loosing time and dont stop until my fingers start to tingle and look at the clock and two hours have passed me by…

            It’s slow step by step process with the view of sitting in on few bands…hopefully to one day teach my kids to play also…

            I can play little of the drums, bass…so this is my ‘miller-time’ and adore it more than anything…I do…for little time out.

            …playing while drunk and singing would be challenge & it’s an experience…

            …I look forward to down the track…have even given name to my Les Paul Epi…

            I’ve name it ‘Elenor’…same colour set up as Jimi Page who I admire amongst others…

            I would guess you’d be telecaster guy more than Les Paul…?

            …take care man!


          • ken ca|houn says:

            (guitar notes)
            thx for the guitar tips, makes sense… most fun I’m having in years, musically these last couple weeks, is playing along with concert dvds (I use a Behringer mixer (http://www.zzounds.com/item–BEHXENTX802) with my Ibanez; run audio output from headphone output of sony amplifier to input of behringer, run output of Ibanez GRX20 thru digitech RP90 effects pedal (w/preset 27; http://www.zzounds.com/item–DGTRP90), run that into the mixer, then listen w/sony mdr7506 headphones…

            Playing classic rock with that setup, while watching/playing along with concert dvds, is a ton of fun. i used to play keys/sax at the Whiskey and a lot of other clubs in LA back in the 80s, that was fun in front of a live crowd. Now I’m in front of bigscreen sony tv rocking along with dvds, sigh — life changes lol. also btw lots of guitar tabs online at http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/.

            Electric guitar is truly a lot of fun, playing along w/ac/dc/clapton/madonna/pink/rush/the who/kylie/police/pink floyd/zztop/jimi/rolling stones/doors/led zep/kinks/nirvana/other 70s/80s bands… not exactly copywriting, but still — playing music gets one in ‘state’ for writing sizzling-fresh copy that compels. and electric guitar’s a lot of fun. particularly in middle age.

            rocking on,

  • Janice says:

    After reading this post I said to myself, ‘God, I love that guy!!” And I do. I have not read anything so awesomely put and so close to mirroring my own life than this.
    At times, while reading I got teary eyed. You know, the kind of feeling that makes you say, ‘I hear ya, man’, cuz ya been there and you KNOW… you just KNOW how it feels.

    I am currently going thru about my fifth mid life crises. And I am so glad I have just read this because I sooooo needed to hear exactly what you had to say.

    The Universe gives you exactly what you need when you need it….ALWAYS!!

    So there ya go!!

    BTW – I love you, man!!

    stayin’ frosty~

  • Dana Houser says:

    Damn John,

    Better late than never. I usually catch your new posts earlier than this.

    For me, this was your best post ever. I’m not bullshittin either. You could make this into a ‘guide to navigate midlife crisis’ or something.

    GREAT info. and advice.

    You know, it’s amazing how many of the people trying to tell us how to live our lives, are living a secret life ‘behind the scenes’. That if exposed would destroy them. And they hate it when you don’t just accept what they say and challenge them.

    And your comment about vows… what are those. People don’t know what committment is in today’s world, especially in marriage. We’re in a bad state as a world right now.

    I think I’ve been in a mid-life crisis the last 20 years with all the illness, deaths, failed business, etc. Maybe not, maybe a crisis would be a relief. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining because it doesn’t do any good. I’m just sayin.

    I’m a mountain climber. And following people like you and others are what’s going to help me get to the top.

    I could write a lot more but I’ll spare ya. This one really hit home and had some great stuff. Thanks for all your great posts, especially this one.


    P.S. That’s a bad ass logo.

  • Chuck Rylant says:

    This is an incredible post! I’m 36 and perhaps been through two already 🙂 The ground rules are perfect, especially about still doing 50% of what you wanted because most people do nothing. I’ve seriously thought about being a Navy Seal, but I agree, I’d get crushed at my age 🙂

    • Dana Houser says:

      Hey Chuck,

      Take a TRX Suspension Training class… it was developed by a Navy Seal. I know it’s not the same, but it’ll still kick your ass none the less and you’ll feel great about yourself… IF you make it the entire 30 days. Find one that’s at least 3x per week.


  • Scott says:

    Apologies John. For some reason I put off reading your blog this time because I thought somehow you were capable of boring me. The moment I saw the logo I knew I was being a prat. And then straight after the line

    “… I abruptly realized that most people weren’t hiding secret thoughts from me at all.”

    …I knew I was in the right place.

    I had a midlife shindig not too long ago. For me it came to a choice between running and disappearing or facing up to the man with a long history of violence and murder. I chose not to run. I’m alive, I’m free, and I can now proudly call myself a pro copywriter instead of a lowlife hippy bludger.

    I never would have realized I had balls of steel if it wasn’t for that.


    • John Carlton says:

      And when the fuck have I ever been boring, Scott? Shame on you…

      Thanks for the note, man. Life tends to throw up obstacles that only make sense later, as we realize the new path we were forced onto. Amazing, the way that works, isn’t it…

  • John … That’s beautifully nuts! Loved the read, relate to it.

    Thanks Man.


  • Dr.Mani says:

    “Making heads hurt – in a good way!” could be your new tagline, John. You did mine. Thank you 🙂


  • Kevin Deal says:

    Howdy from Aloha land John,

    This was dead on. You nailed every detail I’ve experienced, but couldn’t articulate.

    Funny that this would be at the top of your site 2 months after I left Charlotte, NC for Maui, HI. Not a bad trade in my opinion.

    I’m only 25 so I guess it’s just a quarter life crisis. Maybe the mid life ones will be even better.

    Thank you,

    Kevin Deal

  • Rob says:


    Just finished watchin obama and my p.m. In some joint Press conference…

    Anyway big dog…

    Have u had chance to chug things along any further on freelancer course?



  • Joe says:

    How do you walk that fine line?

    Master money games and you can lose yourself for years sucking the teat for another dollar…

    Lean too far towards anarchy with the angry button jammed at ON and you just end up blowing everything up.

  • Linda says:

    So far, my adult life has been a series of mid-life crises. The only respite was when I slept through twenty years of fallout from the only truly braindead outright “mistake” – marrying someone who was for me…utterly poisonous.

    Sailed through women’s biological mid-life and recently breaking my scrawny ankle playing tennis plopped me in a new MLC. This one I recognized from day 1 is celestially inspired. No space from time passage was needed to recognize this.

    My purpose, multiple passions, perhaps OCD drive and big old smile are back. SO….. look out world, here I come again.

    Thanks John – you identify life’s ironies and truths so well!! (And the logo IS awesome.)

  • Patrick says:

    Hey John,

    I came here from the Crazy 8 webinar link and this is my first post to your blog. I love your style!

    I was wondering if you had some insight you could share on this: Being that the Internet is an efficient tool for finding and interacting with like-minded people of all sorts, what relevance do real world communities, such as towns or cities, have anymore? (I know there is meetup.com, but will that approach really cut it?)

    Being that I don’t think there will be a massive migration of people moving to and fro around the world based on shared interests they have with groups of people that they met on the Internet, do you think the “human stew” effect of random people living everywhere in towns and cities will ever change?

    If you have meaningful interaction with people of like-interest through the Internet (as you obviously have with your blog here), then is there any point chatting with the local clerk at the supermarket anymore?

    Just curious what you think.


    • John Carlton says:

      It’s a good question, Patrick. Humans are social beings, and our DNA is all about shared group experiences. As a total introvert (I fake extrovert pretty good, though), the Web is like digital heroin, with amazing access globally and into every corner of every knowledge base. However, I’ve moved around a lot in my life, and before we got wired, we used the phone, mail and trips to connect with friends and family. Humans have always traveled a lot — it’s not some recent thing. As far back as we can trace history, humans bundled up the family or girded their loins solo and took off into the great wild yonder. The other apes didn’t travel much. So we’ve developed ways to deal with loneliness and isolation, even for prolonged periods… but not forever. There’s an urge to merge, and you can only do that in groups. Even hard-core gamers like to play with other humans.

      As far as communities, there is now (with all the ways to make a living on the Web) an opportunity for people to find communities they couldn’t live in if they had to find a local job… and there may be some smart, targeted moving around in our future. Instead of moving to, say, Portland to be with that kind of progressive, music loving, beer chugging crowd… you could move to Podunk, 80 miles away… where the prices are cheap, but a small, wired-in artist community of people who you can groove with live. (I’ve lived in several “arty” communities before, but the average person lives close to the poverty line, cuz there isn’t much work.)

      Might be a few generations before we figure it out (if we last that long). But the opportunity for targeted living exists. Find your own Greenwich Village in the middle of Kansas…

  • I read your blogs, John, because it’s refreshing to read a LOT of words written by a guy. Most of “them” are so bottom-line, so spare on the verbal and the soul-baring. It’s the occasional relief to know there are a few of “them” out there who TALK (dare I say SHARE?) about internal stuff.

  • Love the logo. The challenge of life, mid or otherwise, is the proper balance of dreams and sinking your energy all in. Dream until you can’t let go of a particular dream, and then go for it, body and soul. Failure? If you dreamed right, you had no choice anyway.

  • Brian says:

    Thanks for writing this John. I always feel like you’re speaking directly to me when I read/listen to you. I work from home, late at night like you, and it can be tough spending so much time alone building a business. It’s great to know there’s at least one other guy out there that thinks like me and has had the same experiences on his path. Keep bringing it bro!

  • Amy says:

    I had mine at 38 and at 40 I now feel more empowered. I love being this age because I’ve worked through my shit, and always will work through it. I’m prepared to be honest about myself TO myself. I have learnt that fear can be a great motivator, and it takes guts to be human. Shit will always happen but if you can be honest and embrace and love who you are, regardless of the jealousy and pettiness around you, you can get through it all with grace and a sense of inner stillness, that most people want but are not prepared to do the inner work to get it.

  • Jay Medley says:

    Great post. Hell, they all are.

    I wasn’t going to leave a comment, but the little monkey chattering away in my head got me thinking otherwise. I just had to say thanks. Thanks for being a common-sense, straight shoot’n prophet in a world of bullshit con artists.

    Totally appreciate it.

  • Good to hear this from the “salty sea-dog” of our industry John.

    I’m 39, getting ready to head into “mid-life”… and this is all SAGE advice indeed.

    “My Blood Is Black Ink”
    The autobiography of John Carlton


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