WTF is a Quarter Life Crisis? 8 Tips to Get Unstuck, Find Purpose and Thrive

Growing older in this day and age seems downright crappy - anxiety and panic-inducing, scary AF, and it appear like other people have their shit figured out and you don't. Sidenote: trust me, they don't! It can feel like you don't want to settle, but you can't figure out what you're supposed to do, time is running out, there are a million societal expectations when it comes to look, money, status, mental health, everything.

Quarter of a Life-time

Photo: Ryan Riggins

First of all, I want to say to my Gen Z and Millennial younger brothers and sisters - I see you! Growing older in this day and age seems downright crappy - anxiety and panic-inducing, scary AF, and it appear like other people have their shit figured out and you don't.

Sidenote: trust me, they don't! 

It can feel like you don't want to settle, but you can't figure out what you're supposed to do, time is running out, there are a million societal expectations when it comes to look, money, status, mental health, everything.

“The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Maybe you're worried about adulting, like you can't handle things, you're worried everyone is doing better than you, and nothing is what you thought it would be. I get it! Listen, you guys are some of the most determined and self-aware people I've seen yet and you're going to get through this..

Here are some thoughts to consider..

What is a Quarter Life Crisis Anyway?

Photo: Ante Hamersmit

The quarter-life crisis is a period of intense stress and self-reflection for young adults that often occurs between the ages of about twenty to thirty. The concept is quite new, as it's only become more discussed and studied in modern times with the emergence of millennials into adulthood. Typically, the age for a 'mid-life' crisis is around 40, which is more common but these days, 'with everything is going on' it's happening earlier. But it doesn't have to be the end fo the world. In fact, it can be your new beginning if you let it.

“It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.” — Roy T. Bennett

People experiencing a quarter-life crisis may feel stress from pressure to achieve certain goals or milestones at this age such as getting married, having children or buying a house. Moreover, studies have revealed that the majority of millennials – 86% – have gone through this process some time in their lives. Money may also be an issue, as millennials might not line up with traditional paths of success such as good incomes and buying property.

What's Behind Gen Z and Millennial  Quarter Life Crisis?

Photo: Andrew Neel

Gen Z and millennial individuals are uniquely facing a quarter-life crisis due to an ever-increasing level of uncertainty in their lives. On top of the current global pandemic, many in this generation have difficulty buying homes, owe debt, and are at risk of layoffs, further hurting their financial security. Or, they are stuck in unfulfilling jobs they don't feel valued in and are planning on quitting.

In fact, in the US alone according to MSNBC, "61% — are considering leaving their jobs in 2023, a new report from LinkedIn has found, noting that a higher percentage of Gen Z (defined by LinkedIn as ages 18-25) and millennial (ages 26-41) workers are planning to call it quits than any other generation."

The current pandemic has brought about unprecedented economic consequences, particularly for young adults. And of course, let's not forget 'job dissatisfaction'.  This means that Millennial’s who graduated during the 2008 recession are now affected by yet another job loss and career stagnation, while those in Generation Z find themselves unable to pursue their entry level position plans due to the devastating circumstances caused by the pandemic.

Furthermore, these young individuals are experiencing an entirely different set of challenges as they try to navigate a quarter-life crisis in the midst of an even larger global crisis. The feeling of being stuck, uninspired or uncertain in life is more than familiar to these people after such a drastic shift in their everyday lives occured. While everyone's lives have been altered by this pandemic, it's up to them to take actionable steps on how best to navigate this difficult time period--one step at a time towards positive progress.

Tips for How to Handle a Quarter Life Crisis

The quarter-life crisis is a biological and psychological roller coaster that can have young adults feeling overwhelmed and confused. It's marked by periods of self-doubt, confusion, stress, and even depression. Regardless of whether you went to college or not, this period of life can be incredibly difficult to manage and it often results in individuals questioning their purpose in life and what they should do moving forward.

1. Stop with the Comparison

Photo: Kseniia Samoylenko

Comparison is an insidious habit - one that can eat away at our self-esteem and set us up for a cycle of unachievable goals. In today’s world where everyone’s triumphs and failures are blasted across social media regularly, it has become even easier to spiral into this cycle. Instead of seeing all the hard work others put in, we perceive their successes as coming easily to them while our own feel meager in comparison.

In this day and age of social media, it's hard NOT to look at everyone else's life on social media and feel like everyone has it figured out but you. But also, it's important to remember that people ONLY show their best lives on social media

What to do instead:

Instead of striving to beat out your colleagues or friends, aim to grow 1% every day through collaboration and support, taking pleasure in celebrating their achievements and learning from their mistakes. Celebrate your own achievements and be kind to yourself for taking chances and growing anyway.

“Stop comparing yourself to others. Always strive to improve yourself to become better today than you were yesterday to serve those around you and the world.” — Roy T. Bennett

Focusing on progress rather than perfection will serve you better in the long run, making what seemed like giant leaps in retrospect much more manageable day by day. By shifting our focus into focusing on ourselves rather than comparing ourselves with others, we can cultivate a healthier attitude that will help us reach our maximum potential without burning out too quickly.

2. Re-evaluate Your Expectations

Photo: Andrew Neel

The most common reaction that comes when we hear ourselves say “I should be” or “I have to” is one of guilt, regret, or even shame and frustration.

“You don’t have to get a job that makes others feel comfortable about what they perceive as your success.” — Cheryl Strayed

Phrases like:

I should have bought a house by now.

I should be married by now.

I should have paid off my student debt by now.

I should have my life together by now  

We immediately begin to feel as though we are failing in our ability to live up to other people's standards, even if those expectations are entirely unrealistic. However, this sense of guilt doesn't just stay with us in an emotional manner, it can start to plague every area of our lives.

As we continually attempt to make our way through life only based on others' standards, it can lead us down a path of physical and mental decline, deepening the crisis within which we find ourselves.

What to do instead:

We all believe that taking actions associated with what we "should" do will bring more fulfillment and happiness into our lives, but let's face it - it rarely works out this way! Trying to control our own lives around other people's impressions leads us deeper into frustration and deprivation. By letting go of the "shoulds", you give yourself permission to take control and take ownership for your own life. Letting go takes practice but it also requires being able to distinguish between what is objectively factual versus emotionally driven. You deserve to take charge of your own life; so move away from the things that exhaust you, increase your joy, and give yourself space.

3. Find Your Purpose

Photo: Etienne Boulanger

When dealing with a quarter-life crisis, it’s important to remember that there is no right or wrong answer to the question “What should I do with my life?” With so much pressure from the outside world to have it all figured out, many young adults can feel overwhelmed and lost in their search for purpose. Plus, many times we fill our life with ENTERTAINMENT and not FULFILLMENT OR PURPOSE.

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” — Maya Angelou

This is why it’s important to take a step back and get in touch with yourself. Are you filling your time, wasting your time, or creating time for the things you love?

There is nothing wrong with entertainment, except entertainment is based on temporary gratification and it's short-lived and constantly needs to be refilled.

Plus, after being entertained, it has likely not enhanced more than a moment in your life. Ask yourself what you’re passionate about, what makes you feel alive, and how you want to contribute to the world. Finding your purpose will help you focus on meaningful goals that are in line with your values and aspirations.

What to do instead:

Take some time for introspection and to explore your interests. What is your WHY and WHO is it for? Try different activities and don’t be afraid to fail! Read books, take a salsa class, try painting, learn bouldering or do cross fit, listen to podcasts, and talk to people who can help you discover what lights you up inside. It’s okay if it takes time to find your purpose; the journey is part of the process itself. Once you know what you want to do with your life, you can start taking action to make it happen.

4. Take the Chance to Travel

Photo: Luca Bravo

Solving problems within a quarter-life crisis can be incredibly challenging when you find yourself stuck in the midst of it, unable to see beyond the haze of uncertainty. The nature of a crisis during this phase is often characterized by a sense of being trapped, where it feels like all options have been exhausted or that progress is elusive. It becomes difficult to envision alternative perspectives or possibilities when the weight of anxiety and confusion feels overwhelming.

Breaking free from this cycle requires a willingness to step back, seek support from trusted individuals, and cultivate self-reflection. Gaining a different perspective is crucial in overcoming the barriers that keep you mired in the crisis, as it can bring clarity, fresh ideas, and renewed hope.

Remember, even though it may be difficult to see a way out while immersed in the crisis, reaching out and seeking new perspectives can be the first step toward finding solutions and moving forward.

What to do instead: 

During a quarter-life crisis, when you're grappling with uncertainties and seeking a deeper understanding of yourself, traveling can be an invaluable remedy. It opens doors to self-discovery, allowing you to explore uncharted territories within yourself. As you step outside your comfort zone and immerse yourself in new cultures and environments, you gain fresh perspectives on life, values, and priorities.

Through this journey, you can unlock hidden passions and uncover what truly inspires you. Moreover, encountering diverse cultures, landscapes, and people fosters empathy and broadens your worldview. It teaches you to embrace differences, appreciate the beauty of diversity, and discover common threads that connect us all. So, if you find yourself navigating a quarter-life crisis, don't hesitate to embark on a travel adventure; it may just be the catalyst for personal growth and self-realization you've been seeking. Yes, it sounds cliche, but there are so many things you can learn about yourself and the world by getting out there.

5. Be True to Yourself and What You Want

Photo: Brett Jordan

The only person who knows what’s best for you is you, and it's important to stay true to yourself in order to navigate a quarter-life crisis. It doesn't matter how much money you make or what kind of job title you have—what matters most is that you are genuinely enjoying your life and doing what makes you happy.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” ― Steve Jobs

What To Do Instead

Take some time to identify what truly brings you joy and then make a commitment to pursue it. This could be anything from taking a class in something that interests you, to starting your own business, or even just taking the time to relax and enjoy the little moments. Whatever it is, find something that speaks to you and focus on that. It may not be easy at first, but trust yourself and be confident in the fact that you are making a decision for yourself, not for anyone else.

6. Be Willing to be Uncomfortable

Photo: CoWomen

Making decisions is never easy, especially when the choice we make means giving up the other possible options and it feels very permanent. When it feels like every single decision we make is critical, we can feel paralyzed and stuck. We might even self-sabotage with procrastination, avoidance, and busying ourselves with other things. It almost always creates a feeling of loss, and it's normal and expected to experience some uncomfortable feelings when facing these kinds of choices.

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” — Nora Roberts

In fact, the most successful people in life are often those who made the most difficult decision to follow their aspirations, even if they had to go through a lot of emotional struggle in order to make that commitment. In addition, NOT making decisions can make us feel stuck and regret that we never took chances in life, which feels equally bad!

What to do instead

The key to overcoming any discomfort associated with making a decision is this: remind yourself that you made a conscious choice for a reason and trust in your own judgment. Knowing what you want will take time and be an ongoing process – no one is perfect – but by trusting your own choices and understanding why you made them, you’ll be able to push through any discomfort you might feel. Remember that a quarter-life crisis is ultimately about defying expectations and being true to yourself; so don't let fear guide your choices but instead focus on what truly makes your heart sing!

7. Manage Your Emotional Health

Photo: Emma Simpson

Understand that having a quarter-life crisis is normal, and it's important to take the time to process your emotions. Acknowledge what you're feeling, be gentle with yourself, and recognize that you have permission to feel whatever comes up without judgment.

It's also helpful to stay mindful of how your thoughts can affect your feelings; if you find yourself spiraling into negative self-talk, take a step back and try to reframe those thoughts.

What to do instead

Practicing self-care is essential in managing emotional health during a quarter-life crisis. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy meals, exercise regularly, and find ways to relax and destress such as reading or meditating or doing EFT tapping to manage your emotional health.

Additionally, it's important to build relationships with people who are supportive and understanding of your journey, and who can provide encouragement and guidance when needed. Be mindful of what you're putting INTO your body and your brain. Uplug, cut down on the real crime shows and Netflix marathons and get outside.

Using EFT Tapping can greatly help you if you have anxiety, constant stress or worry, anger, or even feelings of hopelessness.

8. Don't Go at it Alone - Get a Transformational Coach

The quarter-life crisis can be incredibly isolating and it may feel like you're the only one experiencing it and it can feel as if you're wasting time, you missed the boat, you're too late, etc. However, this isn't the case - many people are going through similar struggles and you don't need to feel limited like you need to be on everyone else's time line. A great way to help yourself through this period is to find help from a transformational coach who can offer guidance and clarity while helping you manage your emotions.

Having someone to talk to who understands what you're going through can be a huge help in getting through difficult times and help you find the answers within yourself to see where it is you are NOW and where you want to go. Plus, coaches can help you move forward in life and help you stay on track to reach your goals. With the right support, you'll be able to work through any doubts or fears that are holding you back and gain clarity on what your next steps should be.

Do you feel like this is something you need?

Overview of a transformative coaching program:

1. Life Audit - get clear on what's working and not and where you want to go

2. Start reframing, healiing, and clearing the negative self-talk and limiting beliefs keeping you stuck or afraid of moving forward

3. Manage the fears, worry, frustration, and emotions regarding moving forward so you can take action with confidence

4. Envision and prioritize clear actionable steps


Learning how to manage emotional health, find your purpose, intentions, and goal setting can be especially helpful during this transformative period and professional guidance can assist in navigating these experiences and provide invaluable advice on how to handle difficult situations that arise.

Have you had a quarter-life crisis? How did you handle it? 

ANDREA HUNT - Online Transformational Life Coach & EFT Tapping Practitioner based in Munich, Germany

I'm an accredited transformational life coach from Animas Centre for Coaching UK  and a member of the International Coaching Federation. I'm also a Level 2 practitioner in EFT Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) and a member of AEFTP (Association of Emotional Freedom Technique Professionals).

If you're not sure where to start transforming your life, you can download my free ebook on How to Start Your Personal Growth Journey.

Are you ready to change your life, let go of old beliefs, and empower yourself for a mindset shift to move forward? Mark Batterson says: You're always one decision away from a totally different life.

If you're interested in booking a free 15 minute discovery call for transformational life coaching, EFT Tapping or checking out my services page click here.

HEADER PHOTO: Slav Romanov

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