The mid-twenties to early-thirties is a confusing time. Some of us may be looking for homes in Indianapolis, while the rest of us don’t exactly know what we’re looking for. If you fall into the latter category, you may be suffering from a quarter-life crisis.
I’m possibly the least qualified person ever to give advice on quarter-life crises seeing as I’ve been going through one for the last year or so. But hey, maybe in some sense that makes me more qualified for this discussion.
If you aren’t familiar, quarter-life crises are similar to mid-life crises. The difference between the two is based on when and why they occur. Mid-life crises typically occur in your late forties & fifties, while quarter-life crises normally occur in your mid-twenties and early thirties. Most quarter-life crises are centered around the uncertainty of your direction in life such as within career choices and goals. While most mid-life crises deal with the stress of physical and mental changes as well as wanting to live a more meaningful life. Though mid-life crises are discussed more heavily in the media, quarter-life crises are also very real.
While you’re on your search for answers that might result in more questions, here are 10 ways to overcome your quarter-life crisis:
1. Admit you don’t know what the hell you’re doing.
For some reason, there’s a lot of pressure in society to maintain the appearance that you have your whole life together. At a certain age or upon graduation, we are expected to know just what we’re doing. But honestly, I’m tired of making my life sound better than it is and pretending I have it all figured out. This sort of denial does nothing but mask the problem. The sooner you admit to yourself and others that you don’t know what you’re doing, the sooner you will push yourself to figure out what you should be doing.
2. Remind yourself that a lot of your own unhappiness stems from your own ego.
You define your own terms of success. You’re probably more successful than you realize. But, your ego tells you that because you’ve yet to achieve X, Y, & Z that you’re a failure. Don’t let your ego tarnish your happiness and invalidate all previous successes. Practice positive affirmations to quiet your ego so it doesn’t discredit past successes and sabotage future ones.
3. Don’t do anything just to be doing something.
One of the worst things you can do is to dive head first into something you aren’t at least 70% sure about. At times, I have considered going back to college just so I could have a respectable answer to the painful question, “What are you doing with your life?”. But, going back to college isn’t something that I feel strongly about at this time in my life. In fact, it’s something I currently feel strongly against.
If the only reason you want to do something is just so you can say you are doing something, DON’T DO IT! Maybe, what you’re currently doing with your life isn’t that great of an answer, but at least it’s an answer… and an honest one at that. If you want a more satisfying answer, create one that’s satisfying for yourself… not for other people.
4. Work a job you hate and remember what you hate about it.
Hate is a strong word, but I’m currently working a job that I don’t always like that much. What is it that I don’t like about it? It stifles my creativity by physically and mentally exhausting me to the point where I have little to no energy to pursue creative interests.
I thought I’d love working with animals because I find people exhausting. But, I’ve also come to realize that SPOILER ALERT: not working with people and having limited social interaction is also DEPRESSING. And depressed me wants to do nothing. Therefore, for me, it would make sense to find a job that is a little more interactive and a little less physically demanding. I’ve yet to pinpoint what exactly that is, but at least I have a starting point by knowing what it isn’t. So, if you work a job you hate, distinctly remember what you hate about it to help find yourself a job you love.
(P.S. If there are any websites or publishing companies who want to consistently pay me for sharing my thoughts, you can contact your girl through my work with me page 😉 )
5. Create a 1-year plan & adjust expectations accordingly.
It’s difficult to plan things out when you don’t exactly know what you’re planning, but even just jotting down ideas of a potential plan of action can be helpful. Following the guidelines of the SMART goal-planning can guide you in your planning. The SMART goal mnemonic is a planning technique that reminds you to set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. When you create your 1-year plan, ask yourself if your plan is SMART and remember to reevaluate and adjust your course of actions and expectations when necessary.
6. Understand the value of time without letting it constrict you.
My grandpa used to say, “Today’s Sunday, tomorrow’s Sunday”. And it’s true, time goes by really fast. One day your biggest worry is keeping your ice cream cone from melting before you finish eating it and the next thing you know you’re in your mid-twenties questioning your entire existence. Regardless of how fast time goes, you shouldn’t let the speed of time restrict you.
Many of us have set ages in which we expect for something to happen. So, when that birthday comes around and that thing hasn’t happened… we feel depressed and defeated. Don’t cling on to whatever age you are at the moment just because you haven’t met your deadline. You shouldn’t let time pass you by, but you also shouldn’t let it hold you back.
7. Give yourself permission to have fun.
Sometimes, having some fun is just what you need to break through your crisis. When you get too caught up in your routine, it’s easy to forget what life is like outside of it. Besides, coping mechanisms are healthy as long as they’re done in moderation. Even having “too much fun” can be helpful in providing a much-needed reality check.
8. Put something out into the universe and then forget about it.
I firmly believe that the more you’re thinking about why something isn’t happening, the less likely it is to happen. Negative energy causes more negative energy which results in the universe working against you. So, if you want something to happen, put your best effort and intention out into the universe and then stand back and give it room to breathe and grow. Don’t constantly circle around thoughts about why it isn’t happening. Put it out there and then go do something else for a while. Don’t come back to it until and unless you have something positive to add to it.
9. Recognize there are some things no one can take away from you.
My dad isn’t always that great at giving advice. (Sorry, dad. I love you, but it’s true) But, there is one thing he says that has got me through some pretty scary moments of my life. In regards to fear and rejection, my dad always says, “What’s the worse that can happen? It’s not as if they can take away your birthday.”
When I was younger, I used to think those words of advice were silly and entirely unhelpful, but as I got older I interpreted it as a helpful reminder that there are certain things people will NEVER be able to take away from you. So, in the face of rejection, someone might bruise your ego and momentarily steal a piece of your confidence. But, that’s just a tiny fraction of yourself, they can never take away large parts of you… unless you allow them to.
10. Don’t take advice from well-meaning people when the advice has no meaning to you.
I’m grateful to have a lot of people who care about me and offer me advice. And if you’re lucky, you are too. But the thing is, advice only works if you consider it to be good advice. Otherwise, you’re just following it blindly, hoping something good comes out of it. At the end of the day, you’re the only one who should make the executive decisions in your life. Just like the advice I’m dishing out to you now if something speaks to you… that’s great! But, if all of it sounds like complete bullsh*t to you, that’s fine too. Don’t follow anyone’s advice unless it truly feels good to you.