Is there such a thing as a quarter life crisis and could it be the cause of you experiencing a lack of happiness and fulfilment in your life or career right now?
According to popular psychology, a quarter life crisis is a crisis “involving anxiety over the direction and quality of one’s life” which is most commonly experienced in a period ranging from a person’s twenties up to their mid-thirties. It tends to occur after we have finished our schooling and study, when we have settled into everyday life, often at major points or life changing events when we feel we are at a crossroads. We know something must change but we don’t know what or how to begin. It can feel confusing and lonely.
The good news is this is quite a normal experience. With some insight and small steps, you can gain clarity and direction on a way forward.
Firstly, it’s important to realize you are not alone. LinkedIn surveyed thousands of 25 to 33 years olds; the data showed that 75% had experienced a quarter life crisis with the average age being 27.
Our twenties and thirties are nothing like they used to be. There are so many pressures now for people in this age group including having a well-qualified career, a secure relationship and possibly a family. The prospect of owning a home of your own becomes important, yet each year seems to be getting further out of reach, putting further pressure on your income earning capacity and career choice.
Personally, I have experienced both a quarter life crisis and a mid life one and there are similarities between both. Change was instigated for me both times by a difficult life-changing event, because I didn’t understand what I was experiencing or how to change it. Hindsight is a great thing and I sometimes wish I’d had the insights back then that I have now.
When you become aware of what you are experiencing and acknowledge your feelings as perfectly normal, change and transformation flows with more ease as you begin to take the steps to find new direction, happiness and fulfilment.
Here you will find what I consider to be the complete guide. It contains the essential steps I have identified to get clear on your way forward and move through this period of your life with more certainty.
1. Stop Comparing Your Own Quarter Life Crisis to Your Friend’s
Comparing yourself with your friends and peers, noticing their life choices and achievements can lead you to feel inferior and this increases those feelings of pressure and anxiety. You only have to jump online for five minutes and scroll through your newsfeed to see images of couples with children, career and life announcements and they all seem much more satisfied than you.
The truth is that often what you see is not real and they could be experiencing their own crisis too behind the facade. This means you could be comparing yourself with something that doesn’t even exist. What is the point in that?
If you want to make this easier for yourself, stop accessing social media platforms. You can remove apps from your phone so you have to physically log in. If you need to access certain platforms for work or business, stay away from your newsfeed, even unfollow connections until you have worked through this period of your life.
When you stop comparing, you will notice that the pressure decreases and you will feel more comfort in your current situation. This allows change to unfold at its own pace.
2. Let Go of All the Should’s
If you hear yourself say, “I should be” or “I have to”, you are attempting to live your life by other people’s standards. And now you are aware of this, you will be amazed at how often you use this language.
The thing is, trying to live to others’ standards will never bring you true happiness or fulfilment. Even the use of this language brings a feeling of self-judgement and stress without even taking the actions associated with it. And over time, continually living this way, you will start to feel like your life isn’t your own; and you will lead yourself deeper into crisis as your self-esteem suffers.
If you hear yourself using this language, stop in your tracks. Explore where the thought actually came from and who said you should be doing things that way. Let go of the need to judge yourself according to someone else’s standards and start to think about what you really want instead.
When you let go of all the “I should’s” and start to replace them with your “I wants,” you will notice the feeling of lightness as your self-esteems rises again.
3. Get Clear on What Is Important to You
As you begin to let go of what you thought should be important, you create space to get clear on what is important to you.
Most of the time, like the majority of people, you are living your life unconsciously and unaware of what is really important to you. This means you will find it difficult to make choices that will light you up from the inside.
Dr John Demartini, a long time educator and international expert in human behavior states in his book The Values Factor, that true motivation is inspiration and is present when we are fulfilling our values. And, when we are living according to our truest and most important values is when we are our most fulfilled.
This means it’s important to get ultra clear on your most important values. You can do this simply by looking at what you put most of your time and energy into currently, and the moments in your life when you have felt your most fulfilled. Those moments may have been at any point in your life and may even mean going right back to memories of childhood.