HOW TO SURVIVE A QUARTER-LIFE CRISIS
If you’re consumed by questioning the direction of your career, relationships, and overall life purpose—don’t worry. It’s actually more normal than not. A quarter-life crisis is period of intense soul searching and stress experienced by many people today. Here, Early Coach and Founder of Quarter-Life - Chloe Garland shares her insights and advice on navigating through the challenges of joining the workforce or transitioning into a new career.
What is your definition of a quarter-life crisis?
I think a common misconception is that a ‘quarter-life crisis’ is something that only happens to people of a certain age. I have come to realise that a ‘crisis’ of this type is characterised by a feeling rather than an age. This is a feeling of anxiety that faces people when they begin to ask themselves ‘what do I want to do with my life’ for the first time. Of course, this can happen at any age, but usually the first time we start pondering this question is as we leave education and during our 20’s as we become independent.
What are some of the factors that are contributing to more people experiencing a “quarter-life” crisis?
A lack of support as we transcend from education.
There are an overwhelming number of career and life options to choose from.
New career paths being created every day (The prediction is that 80% of careers in 2030 have not even been invented yet!)
Social media being a platform for life comparisons leading to a feeling that ‘everyone has got life figured out except me’.
A highly competitive career environment.
The unrealistic and highly romanticized idea that we all need to find our ‘one true calling’, find it at 21 then do it forever.
What are some of the tools or techniques you use as a coach to guide people through periods of identity crisis and transition into the workforce or into a new career?
I have come to realise that there are two equally important aspects to coaching people through the quarter-life crisis. The first is helping to navigate and overcome the emotional ‘stuck-ness’ that people can often feel at this time (typically created by feelings of anxiety and overwhelm about the future). The second is the practical coaching that helps the individual map out their next steps. The second can not happen with out managing the first, because usually the stress and worry takes up too much space in our minds to make room for effective planning.
So, my number one tip and technique for people experiencing a quarter-life crisis is to start with you. We have a tendency to launch into research about the countless options that may be available to us – before you do this, really think about what you want from a job so that your search can be narrower and more effective. Ask yourself and write down the answers to questions like: ‘What do I get lost in?’, ‘What do others say I am good at?’, ‘What does my ideal working day look like?’, ‘What do I need from a career to be satisfied?’, ‘If I could look back over my life, what would I want to have achieved?’.
How does greater self-awareness improve resilience in the process of career change ?
Resilience means different things to different people, but to me it is all about the manner in which we are able to respond to difficult situations. Resilient people are able to do just that, ‘respond’, where others might only ‘react’.
Someone told me an extraordinary story the other day about a situation that led to her 18 year old son going missing in the Australian desert for 4 days. Instead of ‘reacting’ to the obvious anxiety and stress of the situation, she was able to respond to it. Her resilience and responsive attitude meant that in that moment she was able to use her influence to increase the search team from 5 Australian policeman to an army of over 200 people, helicopters, planes and global media coverage. Needless to say he was found.
By being self-aware you add a perspective into your life that is able to observe your own reactiveness, take a step back, and ask yourself: what am I able to do in this situation that is going to influence the result? Resilience during career change means being able to respond effectively despite any stress or negativity this time in your life might create.
Note: Resilience can be nurtured!
What practical advice would you have for anyone who is feeling discouraged and unsure about their career path?
Start with you.
Try to respond rather than react as much as possible.
The idea of having a ‘one true calling’ does not apply to everyone.
Everyone’s path is different and takes different amounts of time
You won’t get it right straight away.
Your next job is not your last job.
It is okay to spend time trying different things .
Be kinder to yourself.