How to overcome a Quarter Life Crisis

Millennials are dealing with a number of challenges. Sky high rent in city centres, side gigs upon side gigs, social and eco anxiety, as well as being the generation most at risk of burnout. The Quarter Life Crisis ties all of this together and adds a dash of uncertainty to the mix.

The Quarter Life Crisis (QLC) is a life stage when it appears you are at a crossroads. It’s often described as existential anxiety that can leave you feeling lost, confused and indecisive about the direction in which life is going.

If you recognise yourself in this, you are not alone. Researchers surveyed thousands of people and found that 75 percent of 25-33 year olds have experienced a quarter-life crisis, with the average age being 27.

The number one cause for this crisis? Not being able to find a job or career that evokes passion. A whopping 61 percent of people surveyed by LinkedIn said that this was their main source of anxiety, followed by nearly half (48 percent) who cited comparison with their friends as a key reason.

So how can you overcome a QLC? Every person’s journey is different, but here are two things to consider if you’re feeling stuck.

Define what passion means to you

After the release of yet another Forbes 30 under 30 list, Philip Ellis wrote in Man Repeller about the frustration self-made success stories can cause for millennials. “We’ve borrowed the boundless capitalist impulses of the eighties and woven them into a “follow your bliss” culture, which creates often-unrealistic expectations — not to mention an assumption that if you’re passionate about something, you must find a way to turn that into profit.”

He writes that in reality, not everyone can make their passion a career, for a number of reasons such as the lack of privilege or simple luck. “Here’s the truth: If you haven’t found success at an early age, it’s not necessarily because you lack talent or ambition. It’s perfectly okay to be working a job that doesn’t feel like your raison d’être. You have bills to pay, after all; there is no single right way to be in the working world. And it’s absolutely fine if your passion is something that takes place entirely outside of the workplace and stays there.”

It’s time to redefine what success and passion mean for you. If your life’s passion has nothing to do with work, that’s absolutely fine. Success in this case could mean having a career that is reasonably balanced and allows time for other areas in life, even hobbies, that you’re passionate about.

Beyond passion, think about what’s important to you in your career. Is it the freedom to be able to work when or wherever you please? Is it working with a team of people you get on with? Or working on something that leaves you feeling purposeful?

By being more conscious of your must-haves, you can work towards crafting a job or career for yourself that has different elements of what makes you feel fulfilled at work.

Put a stop to the comparison trap

The peer pressure element of a QLC is not something to be scoffed at — it’s said to be the second biggest cause after all. These days, career progress is flaunted not only on professional networks like LinkedIn, but also carefully curated for the world to see everywhere else.

As a visual platform, Instagram has been named the worst social network for young people’s mental health by the Royal Society for Public Health. Digital natives can especially struggle with the impacts of social media on their mental wellbeing, as they grew up with the internet being a place of self-identity and expression.

Step one is to reduce the amount of time we spend consuming content about other people’s perfect virtual lives. But a bigger shift in mindset is necessary to overcome the comparison rabbit hole which plunges people into a QLC.

The mind can be trained to think differently in these situations. Start with reminding yourself that your career is only one component of your life — it does not define your whole reason for being. It’s important to identify when you’re getting closer to the comparison trap, so start to pay attention to when the negative thinking starts and what triggers it.

Once you get into the habit of identifying what’s causing the jealousy to bubble up, you can find a way to stop it or even start taking advantage of it and using it as an excuse to take action.

If you’re ready to overcome your QLC, watch our videos and allow Gemma Leigh Roberts, our founder and an organisational psychologist, to guide you on how to cultivate a growth mindset and find the right career fit for you.


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