We're all familiar with the idea of the mid-life crisis, otherwise known as that period where 40-somethings run out to buy sports cars to cope with their conflicting emotions. But apparently, younger folks are equally susceptible to overwhelming feelings of self-doubt. A new LinkedIn study has found that 75% of 25- to 33-year-olds have experienced a quarter-life crisis, defined as "a period of insecurity and doubt that many people in their mid-20s to early 30s go through surrounding their career, relationships, and finances."
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Of the aforementioned factors, career-related doubts seem to be taking the greatest toll on younger workers. In fact, 61% of those aged 25 to 33 claim that finding a job or career they're passionate about is the top reason they feel anxious.
If you've fallen victim to the quarter-life crisis, you should know that you're not alone. Furthermore, there are steps you can take to overcome those negative feelings and start improving your outlook, such as the following.
1. Acknowledge your accomplishments
It's easy to obsess over all of the thing you haven't done career-wise, but what about the many things you have achieved? Workers of all ages tend to get hung up on their job-related failings -- missed promotions, stagnant wages, and so forth. But when you stop to think about the things you've done right, whether it's improving your presentation skills, learning new software, or scoring high on performance reviews, you'll probably come to find that your list of accomplishments well exceeds the things you've failed at.
2. Quit comparing yourself to others
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If your old colleague has since been promoted and you're stuck in the same position you were in three years ago, it's natural to start doubting your self-worth. But just as comparing yourself to other people on social media can result in negative feelings, so too can comparing yourself to other people in your professional life. A good 48% of younger workers admit that comparing themselves to their more successful friends has caused them stress, so if likening yourself to others makes you feel bad about yourself, don't do it. Instead, focus on the things you've done right in your career, as well as the things you can do in the future to grow your success.
3. Figure out what you're passionate about
It's normal to have doubts about your chosen career, but there comes a point when you need to contemplate whether you're simply stuck in a rut, or are indeed in the wrong industry. If you're deep in the throes of a quarter-life crisis, think about what it is you really want to be doing with your days. It may not be your current job, or even your current field, and that's OK -- but the key is to be honest with yourself rather than continue going through the motions.
4. Identify barriers to landing your dream job
Although 28% of 25- to 33-year-olds know what their dream job is, they're unsure how to approach a career shift. Once you pinpoint your dream job, you'll feel better once you figure out what it'll take to get it. Are you missing an advanced degree? A certain skill? Or perhaps it's a matter of needing more experience, in which case you may have to bide your time for a bit. Either way, coming up with a specific plan of attack will not only give you something to work on, but a concrete goal to work toward. And both will no doubt help fuel a much-needed attitude shift.
5. Make a career switch possible
Switching careers is often a matter of starting over at the bottom and taking a salary hit in the process. It's a sacrifice well worth making, so put yourself in the best position to survive it. Amass a decent amount of savings so that if your income drops for a year or so, it won't hurt you financially. And if you know that change won't be happening right away (say, you need to complete a six-month certification beforehand), use that time to ramp up your savings even more.
Your career should serve as a source of satisfaction, not self-doubt. If you're experiencing a quarter-life crisis, and your job is to blame, it's time to take a proactive role in changing your outlook and fate. Your happiness depends on it.
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