If you’ve been climbing the ladder of success, you may be wondering what happens when you reach the heights you’ve been aspiring to. It’s a good question. You can’t go on forever. It is time for a turning point and a new beginning. This is what the Janus Years are all about.
If I am successful, why is all not well?
There is a moment in life when after hitting the ground running, and dedicating yourself to success, you reach your goal, or are within sight. Yet, instead of – or in addition to – the intense satisfaction of a job well done, the questions begin:
Where is my life heading, is this what I really desire?
In changing my partner or job, have I changed for the better or merely replaced characters?
Are my status symbols a bit of a cover-up for my insecurities?
This may feel like a crisis, and indeed is often thought of as a mid-life crisis, but it is actually just a healthy catalyst that can push you to look a bit closer at your life and find out what if anything needs to change.
Are you end-gaming or enjoying life?
In the words of FM Alexander, the founder of the Alexander bodywork technique, you are “end-gaming” when you are devoted to the goal but not actually living in the present moment. This is what most succesful people do, and it seems to work well as long as you are whole-hearted in pursuit of your aims.
If you have achieved some measure of success, then it is likely that during the years when your energy was devoted to outward achievement, you were whole-hearted; perhaps there was even a feeling that nothing could stand in your way. This was your enjoyment of life. And if your loved ones complained that you were working too hard, you knew you were doing what you had to do, and you hoped they would understand.
Has your body begun to talk?
But around the 40’s or 50’s, sometimes earlier or later, many people experience a fleeting but urgent sensation that the life they are living isn’t really theirs. There may be a hollow feeling or a sense of loss. Physical symptoms–perhaps a backache, stomach ache, or headache– can start appearing, first occasional and mild and then perhaps more severe.
You may be inclined to dismiss this intrusion into everyday life an merely an ‘off day’, but what happens if you notice that your occasional headache or indigestion is now constant, or that a minor skin irritation is now an angry rash – a pattern often observed in caged animals?
If the discomfort becomes more severe, and your heart goes out of what you are doing, but your head tells you that you must drive yourself forward towards the old goal, then stress, burnout, even serious illness can result.
It might feel frightening, as if something within you is ‘breaking down’. You might imagine you have an illness and need medication. But while the symptoms may be medical ones, the source of the problem is not.
It comes from your original impulse not only to succeed in the world but also to be fulfilled in your spirit. It is actually a positive reminder of your full potential, the beginning of a re-vision towards true contentment, joy in the present moment, and awareness of the authenticity of your life.
Why are the Janus Years?
When life feels like you might have lost focus, it is advantageous to look back with a clear mind and heart at what you have done, achieved, and experienced, and to look forward to a new vision.
Janus was the Roman God presiding over transitions and progress. He had two faces, so that he looked both ways, towards past and future. He was considered the god of doors, a house being only as strong as its doors.
The Janus Years are the years, often in the region of the 40’s and 50’s but not necessarily, when you have achieved a degree of outer success, but are becoming aware that your inner understanding and wisdom hasn’t developed enough to keep pace with it. It is at this time that you need to look both back and forward–to see, understand and appreciate who you have been, and to open up to who you might become. And it is also now that you have the mental, emotional and physical resources to get the picture and do something about it.
Find out about the Janus Years Programme in Switzerland 2012/2013