Everyone knows about the cultural phenomenon known as the mid-life crisis. It can result in anything from a sports car to an affair to a sudden career change. What is a mid-life crisis? It’s a forced evaluation—usually the result of circumstances beyond one’s control such as aging or an emptying nest—of the direction, meaning, and accomplishments of one’s life. Essentially, we wake up at a certain age and think, “My life is passing me by. And what do I have to show for it?”

There is a way to head off the mid-life crisis—and it’s not by ignoring the question or by holding on more tightly to the way we’ve always lived. It’s by building in a series of intentional evaluations along the way. A friend of mine set aside time every New Years Day not to make resolutions, but to reflect on the previous year. What was accomplished? What was left undone? Then he would look to the future. What were his hopes for the next year? What did he want to see God do? He writes out his thoughts and seal them up in an envelope to look at next New Years Day.

We all need periodic times for reflection on how our life is going, what we are trying to accomplish, and how effective we are at that. Refusing to ask ourselves the hard questions only bottles it up for later. Schedule some time for reflection time today.