How to beat your quarter-life crisis

Are in you in your mid-twenties to early thirties and feeling a weird sense of despair? It’s not quite developed into full-blown panic, but you feel worry, anxiety and a little bit lost. You might be feeling like you have some confusion about your identity, misguided purpose and a great deal of stress with it all, but you can’t quite work out how to get yourself out of your rut. Well if this strikes a chord with you then you are in the throws of a quarter-life crisis.

According to a study by Dr. Oliver Robinson, this period of your life can be broken down into five key phases:

  • Phase One: You feel trapped by your life choices, like your job, relationship, or both. You’re living on “autopilot.”
  • Phase Two: You get a sense of “I’ve got to get out of this” and feel a growing sense that change is possible if you just take a leap.
  • Phase Three: You quit the job, end the relationship, or break the commitment that’s making you feel trapped. Then you detach and enter a “time out” period where try to rediscover who you are and who you want to be.
  • Phase Four: You begin rebuilding your life slowly but surely.
  • Phase Five: You develop new commitments that are more in line with your interests and aspirations.

Most people manage to work their way through it, and come out the other side in a better mental state, but that’s little consolation when you are feeling low and confused right now. One of the worst things about the quarter life crisis is that it seems to affect your more if you are determined. In other words, the more you try, the more you feel the effects of the crisis.

Although it might seem like it’s all doom and gloom now, remember that you can pull through it. Remember these key points to give you the boost of motivation when you need it the most:

  • What you are going through is normal
    You are not alone in your feelings and I’m positive that if you share your thoughts with your friends and family you will find someone who is feeling or has felt the same way as you. Many of these people will also be happy and successful in their own right, and if you don’t let yourself get swallowed up by the crisis, you will be too.
  • Work on your emotional intelligence
    Work on recognising your feelings will help you to regulate your emotions, so that you stay in control and can’t get easily overwhelmed.

  • Find out what’s making you feel trapped
    Don’t automatically jump to quitting when you feel trapped in a situation or job. Think about what the problem is and work on getting the best out of it. If you feel you are not making the right moves in your career, take a step back and re-assess where you want to be. If you are gunning for a promotion then ask yourself the qualities that you need to have before you will get the job. Work on yourself and you will find that you will quickly lose any feelings of claustrophobia because you’ll give yourself options for future.

  • Manage your expectations
    Don’t lose sight of your dreams, but do be realistic about what you can achieve right now. You need be more fluid and adaptable to be able to work on what’s most important for this stage of your life. You can’t fix everything in one go, so be patient and make a plan. Figure out what you need to happen now, and what you can work on for the future.

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Main photo credit: Andrew Imanaka


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