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The Quarter-Life Crisis is Real (Here's How to Overcome It)

Three actionable tips for getting your groove back.
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If you made it through your twenties, you likely made it through your quarter-life crisis. If you’re in your twenties—get ready. At some point (and maybe that point is now), you’re going to feel like you’ve hit a road block—a roadblock where you completely question everything about your life. You’re likely feeling a whole lot of anxiety, uncertainty, or inadequacy—maybe even a combination of all three. But you’re not alone—75 percent of people ages 25 to 33 have had a quarter-life crisis, according to a study conducted by LinkedIn. 59 percent of those surveyed reported feeling unsure about what to do next in their careers and lives. 49 percent said they aren't earning enough. And another 44 percent reported that they're just “stuck in a rut.”

Maybe it’s because post-college life is really the first time you don’t have structure in your day-to-day. We’re used to going from one activity to another, always in pursuit of the next big goal. You’re supposed to work hard in high school to get into a “good” college, study something that will lead into a career, graduate, and then find a great, well-paying job that you love. Now you’re there, at the end of the to-do list, and you’re wondering what’s next—and if this is really “it.” It’s scary.

We can’t speed up this process for you—and we don’t necessarily want to. This phase of your life can be used as a great period of transition, if you can learn from it. What we’ll do instead is give you our three actionable tips for how to make the most of your crisis:

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Most of the anxiety and insecurity millennials feel comes from the desire to have a career that you’re passionate about. Maybe you’re stuck in the wrong industry and think it’s too late to change (it’s not). Maybe you’re questioning what your career trajectory will look like. Maybe you want to make your side-hustle a full-time gig. Or maybe you’re just really unsure. Change your perspective from a stress-perspective to a growth perspective. This is an opportunity to step back and think about what you’re good at. What you’re passionate about. What your crazy dreams are. It’s time to set a career vision with this free worksheet.

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We are strong believers that clarity comes from engagement (and no, we're not talking about the diamond ring variety). It’s normal to feel stagnant or lost in your career—this is a sign that it’s time to switch things up and spark your interests in something new. Here are a few of our recommendations to help reinvigorate your career:

  • Attend events. Find talks, networking events, or other industry workshops that interest you, and try to schedule in a few for the next month. See what you learn, who you meet, and what you feel excited about doing. These are all important steps forward.
  • Ask for informational interviews. Find someone who’s working at your dream company or in your dream role, and reach out to them. Tell a bit about who you are, and ask if they’d be willing to chat about what they do. (If you want a bit more clarity on how to do this, just read here.)
  • Take opportunities for growth. Whether you decide to take on an extra project at work, or you decide to start volunteering at your local homeless shelter—try to take on something you’ve never tried before. You’d be surprised how much you learn about yourself.
  • Fill your skills gaps. If you’re looking to switch careers to help boost you out of your crisis, you can find relevant skills to start working on through research. Target your ideal job, and see what skills that job requires. Where do your skills line up? Where are they lacking? This is an easy way to identify your skills gaps. Even if you’re not looking to switch industries, you can target positions senior to your own, or general skills that you don’t feel particularly strong in. Maybe you feel like you should improve your public speaking skills—so join Toastmasters or take an online course. You can learn virtually anything on the internet. (Pun intended.)
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LinkedIn found that most of this anxiety we feel comes from two major factors: finding a job we’re passionate about and comparing ourselves to friends. You’re well on your way to pursuing your passion after the first two steps—so let’s address the comparison issue. Part of your anxiety is likely rooted in the tendency to compare ourselves to our peers. We all know the deal by now—people’s successes are more accessible to us than ever before, and being inundated with our friends and families “highlight reels” on social media makes it seem like everyone else thriving, and we’re getting left behind. 

So cut the cord. Distance yourself from things, apps, people, habits that make you feel like less.

Pay attention to what you’re feeling, and when. If following your old teammate from high school who now lives in Greece and works as a food blogger full-time makes you absolutely hate your desk job and feel insecure in your tiny apartment in a dirty city, by all means—unfollow. Unfollow, unfollow, unfollow. And don’t feel bad about it. Cut out the habits you have that bring you feelings of doubt and inadequacy. Stop reading magazines that make you think you need liposuction. Stop listening to podcasts that make you feel like your side hustle is insignificant. It’s extremely difficult to move forward when you’re stuck looking at what everyone else is doing.

Focus on what you can change, and change that. Focus on growing. Maybe it’s not a crisis, after all—maybe it’s a call to action.

Ready for next steps? Read more of Lauren's (a.k.a, Career Contessa's!) career advice here

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