When I was 28 years old I felt lost, confused, and completely unsure of everything I had achieved in my life up until this point. Only two years earlier I thought I had my life sorted. I had been to university, got my degree and was now in my dream job. It was all going fine. UNTIL I hit my quarter-life crisis. If you don’t know much about a QLC check out my blog post, what is a quarter-life crisis? But pretty much it’s when everything goes to sh*t and you question every life decision you have ever made.
To make things simpler I’ve identified three key signs that you may be going through a quarter-life crisis and what you can do about it.
1. You no longer like your job
This is often the biggest tell-tale sign that you are going through a quarter-life crisis. It starts off with a few annoyances with a work colleague, then your manager increases your workload and before you know it you feel overworked and underappreciated. Suddenly your Sunday nights have been hijacked by a black cloud of anxiety, the evening spent with a knot in your belly and thoughts of dread about the week ahead.
Before long you start to question the point of it all,
‘Do I really want to stay in this job?’
‘What job do I want?’
‘What do I want to do with my life?’
These questions can be overwhelming and paralysing. Before you know it 12 months has passed and you haven’t done anything to change your situation other than speak to you supervisor about the unrealistic workload you have been given or why you haven’t received a pay rise in... ever.
This situation soon results in feelings of resentment which increase over time and reinforce your job dissatisfaction. This problem rarely resolves itself. It will only go away when you take action to work out what is missing from your career that is causing these feelings of dissatisfaction.
2. You feel sceptical and cynical about everything
The longer your quarter-life crisis continues without any intervention the worse it becomes. It’s hard to notice this when you in the middle of it but as time goes on your mindset and mental health become progressively worse. This often manifests itself as scepticism and cynicism about everything inside and outside of work.
You may notice yourself at your desk with a piece of work in front of you. You notice a problem that needs fixing. You can either fix the problem properly, or take a shortcut. As you think about what to do, a little voice enters your mind and says, ‘take the shortcut, no-one will know’. This cynical voice also says things like…
‘No-one will know’
‘What’s the point’
‘They don’t care anyway’
We fool ourselves into thinking if no one else notices than it doesn’t matter. The problem is YOU know. And if we continue to let ourselves down time and time again we will experience lower and lower states of thinking. This results in poorer outcomes at work and in our personal lives.
People stuck in a quarter-life crisis frequently stop spending time with their friends, preferring to stay home, watch TV, eat and sleep. They become sceptical that it’s even worth the effort of going out, doubting whether they will have a good time. This cynicism, which started at work soon spills out into other areas of life such as looking for a partner, going to the gym, reading books etc. The desire to grow and better oneself is lost because one has given up hope that they can improve their situation. They have succumbed to cynicism and scepticism and soon more and more self deprecating thoughts flood your mind....
‘Nothing ever changes’
‘I can’t do that’
‘I don't wan to risk failure’
‘Change is hard’
These automatic thoughts are designed to keep us safe. Change means uncertainty and if we change career we don’t know what will happen. Therefore, it’s easier to believe that change is hard and that failure is scary.
These limiting beliefs are what keeps us stuck. It’s easier to be a cynic than to be an optimist. Being hopeful opens us up to disappointment. It involves us taking a risk with our emotions. Remaining sceptical means we won’t be disappointed because we know what the future holds. If we don’t try to improve our situation than we won’t be disappointed when nothing changes.
It makes no sense but this is how many of those stuck in a quarter life crisis think. It takes great courage to make a positive changes. You have to overcome fear of disappointment, fear of failure, fear that you might make a change and nothing will improve. It’s easier to remain a skeptic believing that nothing will change, that way you don’t have to try.
The alternative is you build up your courage and give it a shot. Overcoming fear and scepticism and improving your situation. What’s the worst that could happen?
3. What’s wrong with me?
The third sign you are having a quarter life crisis is you feel like everyone else has their life sorted except you. You scroll through your feed and see your high school friends getting job promotions and holidaying in Europe with their boyfriends. Wedding and baby pics keep popping up in your feed. With all these life milestones being hit by your peers your start to feel like you are being left behind and wonder, ‘what’s wrong with me?’
Why don’t I have a partner who loves me, a baby, or even a job I like!?! This thinking can very quickly spiral into negative thinking patterns which are difficult to recognise in yourself or change on your own.
The biggest problem with the thought, ‘what’s wrong with me?’ is it often become a self fulfilling prophecy. We attract what we think and believe and if we have negative thoughts about ourselves or the world around us then we will attract those into our life.
And the truth is, there is nothing wrong with you! You are an amazing person with a unique set of strengths and passions that this world needs. But you can’t offer those talents and skills while you are stuck in the midst of your quarter-life crisis. Do something today that is going to shift your situation. It may be something small like writing a list of what you are grateful for. It may be reaching out to a friend and asking for help. Or it may even be phoning a life coach and asking 'can you help me?'
Whatever you do, do something. Life is too short to be stuck in a job you hate. Stuck in self doubt. Stuck in a quarter-life crisis. Today is the first day of the rest of your life, grab it with both hands.
If you would like help getting clarity and certainty in your career direction, check out my FREE 4 Step Guide to 'Get Unstuck'. It contains 4 quick and easy exercises to help you go from thinking in circles to having a clear plan moving forward. Enjoy!