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The 4 Horsemen Of Mid-Life Mediocrity That Are Keeping You Stuck

Written by: Craig Stanland, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


As we enter the inflection point between the 1st half of our lives and the second half of our lives, a voice begins to call to us.

The voice has been with us our entire lives, but we've diminished it to merely a whisper through the responsibilities of adulthood.

With the passing of time, the whisper grows louder.

What's it saying?

It's the desire to finally live up to our full potential, pursue our unfulfilled dreams, and create a beautiful end to our life story.

It's the desire that we have as few regrets as possible on our deathbed.

It's the desire to leave nothing on the table.

It's the desire to pursue our calling.

The desire is strong but so is its opposite.

Newtons 3rd Law of Motion states:

For every action, there is an equal (in size) and opposite (in direction) reaction.

Every yin has a yang.

These are the nefarious forces that threaten your ability to reinvent your life and create the second half of your life you desire.

These are The 4 Horsemen of Mid-Life Mediocrity.


You feel as if some other force is in control of your life. You watch as the time flies by, and you wonder where it went and why you're not where you want to be.

Over and over again. Day after day. Week after week. Year after year.


Autopilot is both comfortable and uncomfortable simultaneously.

How is this possible?

In the short term, autopilot is wickedly comfortable and wildly seductive. You're able to turn your brain off and just cruise.

In the long term, it's wickedly uncomfortable and woefully unfulfilling.

The Golden Treadmill:

I conceptualized The Golden Treadmill as I navigate the creative waters of my second book.

So what is it?

The Golden Treadmill is a symbolic device that fools you into thinking you'll achieve the joy, meaning, purpose, and fulfillment you so desperately desire when you step onto it and hit "Start."

It's a career you excel at but you don't enjoy.

It's the path you were told to take, maybe by friends, family, and society.

It's the "should's" and expectations of others.

It's chasing status, pleasure, and power, climbing the corporate ladder, materialism, addictions, affairs, Netflix, and scrolling endlessly on social media.

It's short-term high after short-term high.

One problem with quick highs, they fade quickly. So you stay on the treadmill and dial up the speed and incline.

More. More. More.

We step onto the golden treadmill because we're both running from something & chasing something.

We're running from the thing that calls to us, that we feel deep within our soul, the thing that we know we're meant to do ‒ but we're terrified to pursue.

Writing, painting, sculpting, composing, Japanese woodwork, teaching, etc.

Avoiding our calling has a cost. It's not monetary; no, it's far more significant than mere money.

Avoiding our calling creates a void in the center of being. This void is the antithesis of what we truly desire in our lives:


The void stares us in the face, and we're terrified to stare back.

So we run like hell from it, & we desperately chase anything outside ourselves in an attempt to fill the void.

But, much like a standard treadmill, you'll work hard & get nowhere.

The reasons The Golden Treadmill will never get you anywhere are simple:

  • No matter how fast you run, you'll never outrun yourself.

  • Nothing external will ever fill you from the inside. Never.

  • The faster you run, the larger the hole becomes. But you believe one day it will finally work.


Addictions, affairs, porn, social media, Netflix, video games, and chasing success are empty and superficial vices that are wildly intoxicating and a vicious trap.

They provide just enough breadcrumbs to keep you almost satiated.

It's that just enough that keeps us on the treadmill, and even though we crave more (not stuff), and even though it's not what we truly want ‒ we're terrified of letting it go.

We sacrifice the entire loaf in the name of breadcrumbs.

We settle for a myriad of reasons, but three of the big ones:

Guilt: Who are we want to desire more when we already have so much?

Self-Worth: We don't feel worthy of the joy, meaning, and fulfillment that come from pursuing our calling.



In Lord of the Rings vernacular, fear is the one ring that rules them all.

Fear is the lead horse.

Pursuing meaning and fulfillment in life means breaking free from autopilot, stepping off the golden treadmill, and making the conscious choice to stop settling for breadcrumbs.

All of which are unknown.

The unknown is terrifying; it threatens our survival (it really doesn't, but tell your brain that when you're about to do something that scares you), so our brain kicks into hyperdrive to maintain and keep us within our artificial borders.

Our brain will scream that we'll fail, people will shun us, we'll be rejected from the tribe, and we'll die.

Unless directly in front of us (gun in the face, fire), fear is nothing more than a beautifully crafted machination of our imagination.

Fear of what MAY happen when we break free from the autopilot.

Fear of what MAY happen when we step off the Golden Treadmill and onto the path of meaning and fulfillment.

Fear of what MAY happen when we give up our breadcrumbs.

Fear of what others MAY say.

Fear that we MAY fail.

Fear that we MAY succeed.

Fear that the reality of pursuing our calling MAY fall short of the fantasy we've been living in.

The more we believe these machinations of the mind and capitulate to fear, the smaller and tighter our borders become.

The smaller our worlds become the fewer choices, opportunities, and possibilities we have available to us.

The fewer choices, opportunities, and possibilities we have, the less freedom we have.

The less peace we have.

So, how do we break free from The 4 Horsemen of Mid-Life Mediocrity and into our extraordinary second half?

Create Crystal Clear Clarity:

If the unknown cultivates fear, clarity cultivates courage.

Answer these fill-in-the-blanks:

I would regret not...

I'd find peace if I could...

I feel most free when I...

Life would be amazing if...

What I want more than anything is...

You're on your way to creating your new life.

Cultivate Self-Trust:

Self-trust is a crucial component of reinventing your second half and pursuing your dreams:

Self-trust isn't the belief that everything will work out ok.

Self-trust is the knowledge that however things work out; you'll be ok.

Big difference.

Conduct a Personal Inventory:

You've developed countless skills over the years in your given profession that can apply to whatever it is you want to create in your life.

These are the soft, micro, & macro skills that make you great at what you do.

Perform a personal inventory of your natural inclinations.

Understand that just because you've utilized those skills in a very narrow and focused way ‒ that's not the only way they can be used.

A screwdriver doesn't only turn screws. It opens paint cans, it's a magnet, a scraper, and in a pinch, I've used the handle as a hammer.

Get creative and experiment with how you can reapply your skills towards what brings you joy.

Just because you've always done what you do, doesn't mean it's the only thing you can do.

The 4 Horsemen of Mid-Life Mediocrity are nefarious and can violate Newton's Third Law of Motion.

They may not be equal to your desire; they may outweigh it.

Or your desire can outweigh the fear.

The choice is yours.

Leveraging these 3 tips will make your choice easier.

Are you interested in cultivating the courage to pursue your calling? Then, join me for your Free Reinvention Clarity Call.

My book, "Blank Canvas, How I Reinvented My Life After Prison," is now available on Amazon.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info! Read more from Craig!


Craig Stanland, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Craig Stanland is a Reinvention Architect & Mindset Coach, TEDx & Keynote Speaker, and Best-Selling Author.

In 2012, Craig Stanland made a choice that would cost him everything. After exploiting the warranty policy of one of the largest tech companies in the world for almost a year, the FBI finally knocked on his door.

He was arrested and sentenced to 2 years of Federal Prison, followed by 3 years of Supervised Release, and ordered to pay $834,307 in restitution. He lost his wife, his homes, his cars, his career, and even his identity. He wanted nothing more than to die.

A well-timed prison visit from his best friend of over thirty years turned his life around.

Craig rebuilt and reinvented his life from rock bottom to a life of meaning and fulfillment.

As a Reinvention Architect, Craig leverages his experiences and personal reinvention to work 1:1 with clients so they can re-architect their lives with freedom, passion, purpose, fulfillment, and meaning.

Craig's mission is to help people cultivate the courage to pursue their calling so they can live meaningful lives.

His book, "Blank Canvas, How I Reinvented My Life After Prison" is available on Amazon.



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