We've all heard of a mid-life crisis, yet the quarter-life crisis may not be quite so well-known. However, according to research, the majority of twenty- and thirty-somethings will face one. Here is our guide to surviving a quarter-life crisis.
Your twenties can be a difficult time. It is generally a time of transition, where nothing is fully established. You may have an overwhelming amount of decisions to make but limited opportunities, and you may feel like you are struggling to make it in the "'real world"' with the anxieties of careers, relationships and debt.
According to research by Gumtree.com, 86 per cent of young people feel under pressure to succeed in their relationships and careers before the age of 30, while research by Vodafone suggests that 73 per cent of 26 to 30 year olds are experiencing a quarter life crisis. However, while it may not feel like it now, your quarter-life crisis can be overcome. Here are 10 ways to survive a quarter-life crisis.
Share your problems
If you are experiencing a quarter-life crisis it is common to feel alone, as though you are the only one facing this. It can seem as though everybody else is breezing through life, following their dreams, picking up promotions and falling into movie-worthy relationships as they go. However, if you open up to your friends about how you are feeling, you may be surprised to find you're not the only one having these thoughts, and just hearing that you are not alone can make a big difference to how you feel.
Acknowledge your feelings
It can be easy to take onboard the flippant advice of others that "'you're young and have your whole life ahead of you"' and to feel guilty or self-indulgent for harbouring doubts or feelings of dissatisfaction with life. However, it is important to realise that it's completely acceptable to have these emotions and your thoughts are perfectly valid whatever your age. Know that you are entitled to your feelings and that they deserve to be taken seriously and addressed, not ignored.
Decide what you want from life
To increase your satisfaction in life, you have to decide what you want from it. We often compare ourselves with others and think we want what they have, but everybody is different and just because something makes somebody else happy it doesn't mean that it is right for you. Stop comparing yourself with others and feeling pressured to strive for goals that aren't on your personal to-do list (such as starting a family, earning more money or buying your own home). Think about what you want and what would make you happy.
Make an action plan
Once you have outlined your priorities and needs it is helpful to set some goals, not only to help increase your future happiness but also to help you feel proactive and in control of your life rather than a helpless back-seat driver. Set specific goals relating to both your personal life and career, dividing your ambitions into short, medium and long term goals. Think about what you want and how you can get there, then take small steps to achieving these goals; whether this is by starting a career-driven course, taking steps to start a relationship or getting help to sort out your finances.
Many of us define success by what we own and have, which can lead to feelings of hopelessness if you are not where you want to be financially. Rather than obsessing over your status and finances, try taking a step back and redefining success for yourself based on what you have to offer and how you can make a difference to others. Make a commitment to doing something selfless such as volunteering. This will not only add some interest into your life and routine, it will also help you to appreciate your value and worth.
Spend time with people of different ages
Life can sometimes seem like a competition and it can be difficult to stop yourself from comparing your success and lifestyle with that of those around you. To take some time out from this, try to spend time with people from all walks of life and of different age groups, so that you are not constantly feeling in ‘competition mode'. Spending time with different people with a wide variety of issues and life stories will also help to give you some perspective and to realise that one path in life does not suit all.
Don't be afraid to try things
It can be tempting to live life from the safety of your comfort zone and to feel as though you are not good enough to achieve your dreams. However, stepping out of your comfort zone and giving things a go is not only the perfect way to break out of a rut, it is also the only way that you can have any hope of achieving the things that you want in life. If you have a dream or something you have been longing to do for a while, don't let the fear hold you back. It might not work out but at least you can say you tried rather than living to regret not giving it a go.
When making plans for your future it is important not to get too focused on time. For instance, deciding you want to own your own home by 26, be married by 27 and have kids by 28 will only make you feel despondent if life doesn't pan out this way. Real life hardly ever works to a perfect schedule, and things will happen in their own time. Stop comparing yourself with others and bear in mind that life is not a race. Remember that a change of plan is not a failure, and being prepared to adapt and change your timing or goals may be necessary to your happiness and success in life.
Recognise your achievements
We often spend so much time fixated on what we want out of life that it can be easy to ignore what we already have. A major key to coping with a quarter-life crisis is to spend some time remembering all the things that you have achieved and that you should be proud of or grateful for. Whether you have graduated from university, learned a valuable skill or life lesson, or established a good quality friendship, reflect on everything you have achieved so far and the things that have given your life value and enjoyment.
Put some fun into your life
Adult life can sometimes seem like hard work. The wild nights of university become fewer and further between, financial restrictions rear their ugly head and you can easily settle into the drudgery of a 9 to 5 with the feeling that all your best days are behind you. However, this needn't be the case! To help overcome your quarter-life crisis, the most important thing is to inject some fun into your life again. Have a think about the activities you enjoy and the things that make you feel excited, then plan to spend time doing these things. Remember to make fun a priority.
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