75% of millennials say they’ve had a ‘quarter-life crisis’ — here’s how to manage one

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For many young professionals, a quarter-life crisis can hit before 35.

According to a survey published by LinkedIn on Wednesday, 75 per cent of millennials aged 25 to 33 say they have experienced such a crisis, often because of their careers.

A quarter-life crisis can cause a period of insecurity, doubt and anger, but a life crisis can hit at any age. Most often, a midlife crisis is associated with people in their late 40s and 50s, when middle-aged adults experience dissatisfaction in either their careers or personal life.

But unlike a midlife crisis — a period when adults have the funds to buy a fancy car or take a luxurious vacation to figure things out — millennials are often stuck with debt.

“Sixty-one per cent say finding a job or career they’re passionate about is the number one cause. Another top reason is comparing themselves to their more successful friends,” Blair Decembrele of LinkedIn said in a statement.

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The survey, which polled 6,014 people in this age range from four countries, also found 59 per cent of individuals were unsure what they wanted to do next in their career or life, while 54 per cent were frustrated with their options.

Additionally, 49 per cent thought they weren’t earning enough, while 80 per cent felt pressured to have successful relationships, careers and savings before the age of 30.

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Is it common?

Career and communications coach Fiona Bryan of Toronto, says a quarter-life crisis in this age range is completely normal.

“We need to realize life is a marathon and not a sprint,” she tells Global News. “[A quarter-life crisis] can be a good thing.”

She adds this is a period for young professionals to figure out exactly what they want in their careers, and to create a plan to get there. The survey found career pivoting (or changing your careers) became more popular, and Bryan says this is a good way to be aware of what’s working for you and what isn’t.

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According to LinkedIn, more than one-third of survey respondents changed their careers, while nearly one-quarter took this time to take a career break. Bryan adds with this generation in particular, social media could make things worse.

“Living online means comparing yourself with other people and that puts a huge amount of stress on yourself.”

Managing a quarter-life crisis

Bryan says to manage this type of crisis, the first thing an individual needs to do is be aware of how this crisis is affecting their day-to-day life and be willing to take things slowly.

Leadership and creativity coach Kate Arms says managing a quarter-life crisis means being mindful of what’s actually happening.

“Become mindful of what is going on in your body when you’re freaking out,” she tells Global News. “Everything we feel happens in our bodies, but when we freak out, our thoughts focus on what we’re freaking about and we stop paying attention [to what’s] going on in our bodies.”
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She also adds while it may feel like the world is coming to an end, you have to remember you have agency over the thoughts you are feeling. “When you ask yourself the questions, your brain stops freaking out and problem solves.”

And in the moment, the easiest thing to do is just take a deep breath, Arms adds, exhaling as much as you can and allowing your body to inhale automatically.

While these tips are good for people suffering a mid-life crisis in the moment, moving on from one requires thinking ahead and mapping out exactly what you want. If it’s about your job, imagine where you want to see yourself and if it’s about relationships, come up with a strategy on how to get there.

The most important thing, Arms says, is to take things step-by-step. “Only worry about taking the next step and trust after you’ve taken it, you can figure out the step after that.”