Mid-life crises come early for men seeking success

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The Independent Online

They are young, ambitious and in the prime of their lives. Yet many young men in Britain are so racked with worry and consumed by the pressures of modern-day living that they are having early-life crises.

Research has found that men aged between 25 and 44 spend much of their lives ridden with anxiety about "having it all". The quest to acquire a bigger home, a better job and perfect family life contributes to making men miserable, according to a survey published today by the analysts Mintel.

The survey of 1,883 men over the age of 16 in May 2005, found that one in every seven 25- to 44-year-olds fretted about his lot in life, including employment, time pressures and financing a desired lifestyle, compared with an average of one in 10 across all ages.

Angela Hughes, a consumer research manager at Mintel, said the mid-life crisis was affecting men prematurely because of an overriding ambition. "The key problem is their over-ambitious aspirations. This group wants it all - better job, better home, more holidays, more time for themselves, and they hope to achieve all this while reducing their debt levels as well. Adopting more realistic ambitions would result in many men feeling happier and less stressed."

The study found stress, work and job security featured highly among their biggest worries. Some 23 per cent of men aged between 25 and 44 felt stressed in the office, compared with a general average of 19 per cent; while 16 per cent of 25- to 34-year-olds and 18 per cent of 34- to 44-year-olds were worried about job security, compared with an average of 14 per cent. Among other gripes was a lack of personal time - 28 per cent of 25- to 34-year-olds and 23 per cent of 35- to 44-year-olds said they worried about not having enough time, compared with an average 18 per cent; while 31 per cent of the younger age group felt they did not earn enough money for the kind of lifestyle they would like, which was 6 per cent above the average.

Only a quarter of the men interviewed were defined as carefree, with no significant concerns at all.

John Rowan, a psychologist and author of Healing the Male Psyche, said: "There is almost an expectation that younger men will have four holidays, wear designer clothes and have a high-earning job. But it's a substitute for the real thing, which is an inner happiness. This deeper fulfilment cannot be got from material possessions."

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