How to deal with your Quarter Life Crisis

You have probably heard this phrase a lot of times. So lets just get down to it and talk about it already.

So, what exactly is a Quarter Life “Crisis?”

Well, according to this article on Forbes, it doesn’t just happen at 25 (let’s not be so goddamn literal). It happens some time between your mid 20s to early 30s. This crisis will likely happen to 86% of individuals in this age range so its really just a question of when it happens to you.

And, let’s set the record straight — since it happens to pretty much everyone, its not really a ‘crisis.’

Just by looking at my sample of friends and acquaintances, I can already list 5 people who have come to me for advice on dealing with their version of quarter life crisis. I just realized a week before my birthday that I might also be going through one. It wasn’t a big moment of realization — months of reflection and self awareness has gotten me to realize that I will be at my happiest working for myself or working in an industry I personally feel connected to.

I can honestly say that it’s a scary realization knowing that you are not where you want to be in life yet. Its easy to get overwhelmed and let the unknown take over things you do know about yourself. You just gotta dig a little deeper to find out what’s holding you back and what can propel you forward.

How can you deal with your quarter life crisis?

  1. Identify reasons / patterns in jobs / relationships that made you unhappy

Hopefully at this point in your life, you are sitting on a few years of experience (work, personal, dating). Start thinking about all the times you were happy at your last job. Think about all the times that made you unhappy to the point you brought it home and constantly bitched about the same things to your friends. Heck, ask your friends about the times you bitched about your old jobs and boyfriends to remind yourself about what exactly made you hate your old jobs in the first place. Start detecting patterns — I love how this sentence captures it perfectly in this article, “Your life purpose doesn’t yell at you — it whispers.” Really look at all those annoying moments and dig deeper to understand the actual reason behind your unhappiness in those jobs and relationships.

2. Talk it out with someone

Ideally, this is someone who went through something like this or is currently going through one themselves. It won’t just make you realize you are not the only going through this alone — but if anything, you might learn a thing or two about that person’s approach to solving their quarter life thingamajig. I personally like to surround myself with friends who I can learn something from (i.e. patience, proactiveness, etc). I am fortunate to be surrounded by individuals like my sisters and my roommate who have kept me honest, accountable and give me a good kick in the ass when I need it (i.e. when Loretta told me to stop complaining about my old job and just do something about it already).

3. Write about it.

I don’t care where you write. Whether it’s a white board, whether it’s a one-off journal entry you are going to throw, whether it’s a blog or even a rough business plan — just document it. I personally find writing helps me declutter my brain — once all my messy thoughts are on the paper in their pure raw format, I start organizing it and looking for patterns. Approach your overwhelming thoughts and feelings like a big messy spreadsheet you can’t wait to clean, organize and analyze.

4. Develop an action plan

Now that you have analyzed all the data, it’s time to build an actionable plan (just like you would at your job or for your business). Keeping in mind that big picture, think about how you will prioritize the action items on your list. You might want to do everything — but having a good idea of your life vision, values and career and relationship dealbreakers will help you pick and take action on the right items. (For all you tech geeks out there, The Lean Startup doesn’t have to just apply to your startup idea — you can also apply that lead mindset to your personal goals).

I hope these tips help you as much as they have helped me. The biggest takeaway from this is your mindset — treat this as a learning experience and an exciting new opportunity.