“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain
Read Time: 5 Mins
The infamous quarter-life crisis seems certain no matter who you are. A quarter-life crisis is a low point or several low points that you can’t seem to shake. It typically has to do with love, relationships, and probably your career.
You may be in a quarter life crisis if you find yourself saying:
In all seriousness, if you are like me, the quarter-life crisis makes you feel like you’re behind in everything: life, career, love, money, etc. In reality, 68% of Millennials find themselves with the same feeling in their late twenties and early thirties.
There was a survey done that found that over 86% of Millennials felt pressure to reach their money, relationship, and career goals by the age of 30.
Uhm, hello! I’m that person. I’m turning 30 in two months, and I have a lot of dreams to fulfill.
I don’t know why but I put this pressure on myself that I needed to reach some of my biggest goals by the time I turned 30. At some point, I decided that was the golden age.
I don’t think it’s bad to be ambitious, in reality, turning 30 is no different than 35 or 40.
It’s just another year. Of course, you’d like to have it “all” figured out but what if that doesn’t come?
Psychologists say that the quarter life crisis is synonymous with depression. Worst of all, it affects people who are driven to succeed the most.
So, all you goal setters and high achievers: better hang on! The quarter-life crisis is coming for you if you haven’t experienced it yet.
To be honest with you, I have been in every single one of these phases. I am in stage 5 right now.
I know what I want, but I also know that sometimes it takes some time and hard work to get it. My goals are clear, and I’ve seemed to make it through the first few stages of this process.
Related: How Culture Lies To Us About Success
Let me be clear, IT WAS NOT EASY nor is it easy now.
I found it a process of refining my expectations with reality. It’s not following other people’s rules or dreams for my life. It has been more about figuring out what I’m good at and failing at a few things. It has been long nights awake, thinking and stressing about a terrible job I hated. It has been building this blog on my nights and weekends. It has been a lot of work. There is no way I’ll accomplish all goals by the time I turn 30. That’s just ridiculous. There’s still a lot of time on the clock in this game.
If you can accomplish all of your goals by age 30, you’re not dreaming big enough.
I think one of the biggest things people can do to get through the first and second stage is just to find others that you can talk it through with.
Finding others that are in the same stage is critical because when you know, you are going through something with someone else.
The conversation may go something like this:
You: “I thought I had all this figured out after. I don’t know a thing. What I want is (insert dreams).”
Friend: “OMG! I had no idea you were feeling the same way; I thought I was the only one. I don’t know what I’m doing either.”
The fact is, many people are going through the same thing that you are Everyone is just too afraid to admit that they don’t have it figured out in fear that they’ll be left behind.
I think another huge thing people can do is find someone who has been where they want to be.
A friend or a mentor can help you see the bigger picture in your life’s timeline.
Too often we think of life in micro terms. When you talk with someone who’s been there, they can give you some much-needed perspective.
A word to the wise: if someone approaches you for advice, it’s probably not wise to tell them they’ll get it all figured out. It’s helpful just to listen and understand and encourage.
I’ve been guilty of being “too” harsh in my approach of certain friends and family in the past, and it’s never constructive for the other person.
The quarter life crisis is real. You are not alone. It won’t last forever.
To get through it, you don’t have to change your life drastically; you just need to lean into it and not let it destroy you.
These phases of life tend to bring out the worst in us. i.e., drinking, addictive habits, cycles of destruction and self-sabotage.
There is no shorter way to lose this battle as if you succumb to the pressure that you face during this stage and just “accept” your current circumstances. You must push forward knowing you’ll get through it.
You don’t have to quit your job and do something 180 degrees different abruptly; maybe you start pursuing your passions in the evenings and on the weekends. Maybe you start freelancing in a career industry you want to go into. Maybe you decide to work on your relationship intentionally and find the roots of your interest and love for the other person again.
My point is this: if you acknowledge this phase of life, understand you’re not alone, and that you need to “lean” into it, you’ll get through it a better person. Promise.
It could mean quitting your job.
It could mean calling it quits in the relationship.
It could mean moving to a new city.
It may not be any of these things that “change” your life.
That’s only something you can answer, and it’s only something you will know if you try.
Don’t be afraid to try. Just know that on the other side of this crisis is your life and you only get one life.
Stay true to yourself, don’t freak out, and press forward.
A few good guiding questions to ask yourself in this stage of refinement are.
Once you know these things, your path becomes a lot more apparent – not any easier (FYI). Then all you need to do is make a plan and work backward to get to your desired result. Sounds so easy, right?
Need another perspective? This is a great place to start. I love this talk.
Also published on Medium.
Zack is one of the co-founders of FreeUp and is in charge of setting the strategy for the blog and managing the day-to-day operations. When he isn't plotting new ways to create awesome blog content, he likes to geek out about global affairs, ride motorcycles and can probably be found hiking somewhere during his days off.