click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Naso
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Marshall’s Mid-Life Crisis

Marshall’s Mid-Life Crisis

Top five lessons from a quora post that went viral.


When Marshall Karp wrote about his mid-life crisis on Quora he thought maybe it would resonate with a few people. He certainly did not expect that just eight days after his post, he would have a quarter of a million views, 3300 upvotes and over a 100 comments and messages. Far more people than he thought were experiencing the same confusion and struggle that he had gone through and they were grateful for his insights.

Here are what I think are his top five lessons.

1. External appearances and possessions do not lead to fulfillment. “At the age of 39 I had it all. A loving wife, two fantastic kids, an apartment in New York City, a house in the country, new car, nice vacations and a high paying job as Creative Director of a hot creative advertising agency. Everyone wanted to be me. Except me. On the outside I was the poster boy for Happy Successful Man Who Has His Whole Future Ahead of Him. But deep down inside I was miserable. I began to assault myself daily with that five word mantra. The one that so many of us begin muttering when they find themselves wandering through that unfamiliar, unsettling neighborhood known as midlife. Is this all there is?”

2. Most of us lead lives today that we chose as teenagers. We need to think about whether, knowing what we know today, we want to continue on our current paths. “Tonight, I’m going to send someone to your house. He’s a teenager, about 17 or 18. He doesn’t know much about life-what teenager does?...This kid is going to completely outline and plan the second half of your life…Why should you let some teenage kid with no world experience plan the second half of your life? My answer is why did you let him plan the first half? This rut that you’re stuck in, this life that you’re trapped in, who planned it? Not you. Not the YOU you are now. Most of us form our life’s plan shortly after high school…That was my insight. I was pushing 40 and still living the dream of some teenage kid.”

3. We can make a new plan once we realize that we are stuck. Each of us can make choices today using the experiences and the self-knowledge that we have gained over the years. “That was the moment that I decided that the 40 year old me should start planning the life of the 60 year old me and beyond. I was at the top of the ladder, and I suddenly realized I didn’t need one more rung. I wanted to find a new ladder. “

4. Don’t give up your day job and risk everything before you have established a new career. When Marshall decided to change, he didn’t quit his job. He began to write in his free time. “My solution was to start writing on my own. Over the course of countless nights and weekends, I wrote a play… for the next 6 years I kept my day job as an advertising agency Creative Director.”

5. Stay connected with those you love and with what’s most important to you. Too often we enter a mid-life crisis and instead of finding a way to live authentically, we blame. We blame our marriages. We blame our kids. And we lose sight of what is truly most important in our lives. Marshall held onto his marriage and even after his screenplays got him to Hollywood, he kept his priorities. “Many of you asked if my quest for a new career wrecked my marriage. Just the opposite. After two years, despite the fact that I was on the fast track, I left Hollywood and came back to what was most important to me-my family.”

Have you recently navigated a similar transition in your life? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way? Please share them in the comment section below.

February 11, 2017

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 6

(6) Lisa, February 22, 2017 3:59 AM

Marshall is one lucky guy!!

I too want a change... I can't imagine dying & saying THIS is what GD put me on earth for!!!! Just not sure of what direction to go!!! Thank you for making us all aware that we can change our direction!! ( any ideas of a new career?!!!). Thanks!!

(5) Dvirah, February 16, 2017 8:02 PM

One Step at a Time

One "secret to success" is to plan only one step at a time - the next step. Instead of assuming that you know how you will feel 10 or more years from now, only consider how you feel today, and plan for tomorrow. From the article it seems tha this is excactly what Marshal Karp did.

(4) MESA, February 16, 2017 2:49 PM

A mid-life crisis isn't that terrible if it leads people to just try new and different things to improve their quality of life. But there are so many people who use the mid-life crisis as an excuse to leave everything behind, including those things that gave their lives meaning. I'm glad Marshall Karp did try new and different things without leaving his family behind. That's the healthy way to go.

(3) Anonymous, February 14, 2017 1:59 AM

Crisis also means opportunity!

I navigated what I believe to was a so-called midlife crisis in my late thirties lasting into my early forties. Looking back after many years of therapy and much introspection with the help of Talmud study I would prefer to call it a spiritual crisis. The unconscious thinking that paved the road to a physical world that lacked the meaning I would have hoped for. Marriage was in question, friends, career, most of the things a person thinks will bring them inner fulfillment. My point is that the unease I was feeling was really a manifestation of a deeper lacking which I believe was a spiritual one. A genuine connection with something bigger than ourselves. Study can help introspection and this can open ourselves up to a better understanding of who we are. Acceptance of our qualities be it some good some not so good but a level of humility to accept these with the goal to improve. This evolution took years and at a certain point a new awareness was born. This new perspective also provided me with the faith that most new challenges or crisis have a silver lining to them and they are custom tailored for our own personal growth. The difficult part is reminding yourself that this is true and keep moving forward.

(2) Shoshana, February 13, 2017 8:11 AM


So important to remember and keep living consciously at any age. I'm 24, and think it's so important to remember!

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment