In 2017, a LinkedIn study found that 72% of 25-33 year olds have experienced a quarter-life crisis, with 32.4% currently having one. The average age for a quarter-life crisis to hit you is 27.
Who succumbs to a quarter-life crisis?
As noted in The Muse, the “typical sufferer is highly driven and smart, but struggling because they feel they’re not achieving their potential or feeling they’re falling behind,” and when journalist Juliana Piskorz researched it for a piece in The Guardian, she found that “almost all the people who replied… had pursued some form of higher education and had gone on to live and search for work in urban areas. These young people [were] ambitious, educated and seemingly well adjusted – all the ingredients for a life of privilege.”
Equally, these people faced high levels of low self-esteem. On the one hand, their education led them to pursue high flying careers in a city, with a narrative of being able to be who they want to be, do what they want to do and live where they want to live. However, after starting out in the working world they’ve soon found that the agreement is broken and expectations haven’t lived up to reality.
By the time they are 30, they’ve yet to build a home, living in a shared flat pay check to pay check. Many, in these COVID times, may have lost work and had to return to live with their parents, or have had to take a sideways career step or even rethink their future career plans. So there’s very little to help them feel as though they are fully adulting.
Yet the standards, broadcast to the nth degree on social media, still require you to be in a loving relationship with a baby on the way, in a perfect four-bed home with a SUV parked out front.
As Juliana Piskorz perfectly summed it up: “It strikes me that we are living in a time of extreme contradiction – young people are told they have a kaleidoscope of opportunity, but are fettered by a complete lack of stability.”
Are you feeling these pressures of quarter life? If so, here are a few pointers to help you keep the anxiety at bay:
1. Remember it is normal
72% of 25-33 year olds experience a quarter-life crisis. If you are having difficulties, confide in others as it’s so likely that they will be having the same thoughts, feelings and anxieties. The ability to talk and listen to others can make the problem a whole lot easier.
2. Don’t let your degree or job define you
If you meet someone new, what do you ask them? One of the first questions that often get asked it what do you do? But how you earn your living often has no correlation with what you are like as a person. And it doesn’t help you get to know the real them. So the next time you meet someone, don’t start with their career, or their degree if they’ve recently left university, and see what happens. You could ask them about any trips they’ve got planned, or you could even throw a spanner in the works and ask them about their most proudest moment.
Now that you’ve developed relationships with other people not just for what they do, remember that you are not know for what you do either and your job doesn’t have to define you.
3. What are your values?
After leaving university, we head for a job that sounds good on paper. Luckily after a couple of years in, you’ll have a much better understanding of what it is that you want from a career. You can then use this knowledge to move forward and re-invent your work-life to suit your needs, talents and values.
If you want to investigate your values further, our blog How to Discover what Core Values you Should Live by is a great place to start.
4. Try out new things
One of the stumbling blocks with quarter-life crises is that often, we don’t know what it is that we want instead. So go out and find it. You could start a blog or a side hustle, or volunteer on your weekends, or take up a new hobby and meet new people. You never know what you will enjoy. You never know, you might just find that blog picking up and turning into something financially viable - soon you’ll wake up in the morning and be motivated to get on with your day.
5. Identify the issues
A useful exercise is to draw a wheel of aspects of your life that are important to you - such as your career, health, money, environment, personal growth, family, friends, relationships, spirituality and travel - and colour in each section of the wheel depending on your level of satisfaction with it at this particular moment. It’s an easy way to see what aspects of your life you need to address; you don’t need to be perfect and have a full wheel, but a couple of changes could make all the difference to how you perceive your wellbeing.
6. Change your career
As LinkedIn found that finding a job you are passionate about is a top priority, are you doing something you’re passionate about? If you are not, iShine can help you identify what else you could be doing based on your skills and values, and give you the confidence to go out and change your life.
Have you found any nifty techniques to help you keep the quarter-life crisis anxiety at ease? Let us know in the comments below.