Welcome to All Groan Up by Paul Angone — a place for twenty-somethings asking “what now?” If you like the article below, join the All Groan Up community and snag a free copy of the 21 Secrets for your 20′s ebook. (free for a limited time).
Quarter-Life Crisis (def): Experienced in one’s twenties, involving anxiety/fear/confusion over the direction and quality of one’s life. Not sure if what you’re experiencing has the makings of one? Here’s 25 signs it might be a quarter life crisis.
But what if I told you that experiencing a quarter life crisis is the best thing that can happen to you?
This turbulent season in your 20′s where you’re emerging into adulthood, and in the process, feel like you’re getting the insides ripped out of you like crab legs at a Las Vegas buffet. Yes, this season will be the most important season of development in your entire life.
Let me explain.
Life Lived Linear
Growing up, we live life so linear. Middle school. High School. College. Grad School. Cubicle job.
Climb that step so you can climb the next and the next and the next…
don’t question. don’t look back. don’t turn.
Climb you fool. Climb!
We earn degrees, corner offices, 401k’s — but is plodding up a stairwell the way we want to live?
Time to Explore
The Quarter-life Crisis is simply when you finally stop climbing the stairs and start exploring the unknowns of the 15th floor.
The door locks behind you. You strain your eyes but can only make out a dimly lit hall that appears to never end. You feel stuck in a Stephen King novel and at any second train headlights might start hurdling toward you.
No syllabus. No textbook. No professor with a flashlight to shed light on all the answers.
No, just you and an endless amount of rooms.
All you can do is start opening doors.
And it’s a tad terrifying, if we’re honest. Because exploring the dark has always been that way.
Because we’ll enter rooms that smell like mothballs and old pee.
Because we’ll get lost and there’s no assurance that we’ll ever find our way out.
Value of the Quarter-Life Crisis
But the more rooms we go in, the more the maze begins to make sense. Exploring in the dark is not easy. But our eyes begin to adjust. We start learning how to really see.
We learn how to fail.
We learn that sometimes life must suck before it’s sweet.
We learn how to explore again like we’re eight years old in the field behind our house.
Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”
― Gilda Radner
We think back to our life on the stairwell and realize it wasn’t much of a life after all.
So yes, I’d rather we experience crisis now. I’d rather we ask questions when we’re twenty-six years old and have the rest of our lives to live it. Than when we’re freaking-fifty-five with so much of our lives already cashed in.
Lost With Confidence
A Quarter-Life crisis, as Professor Robert Quinn writes in Deep Change, is really about being willing to get “lost with confidence”.
I can honestly say now, I’m thankful for my quarter-life crisis.
Because if you explore the 15th floor long enough you’ll begin to hear the music.
And it’s beautiful.
Have you experienced moments of Quarter Life Crisis? Can you see any ways it’s benefited you?
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Thank the Great Recession?!
You can kiss my loan-carrying, unemployed, bunking-with-my-parents-backside.
At least that’s how I would’ve responded four years ago — when I was interviewing to be a used airplane parts sales assistant living on a diet of Top Ramen, angst, and what the heck now?
But now I believe the Great Recession was actually the GREATEST thing that could’ve happened to our generation. When the history books look back, it will see that Gen Y and Millennials experienced success because of the Great Recession, not in spite of it.
Let me explain…
Two Reasons the Great Recession will make Gen Y Successful
1. Change or Die
Most twentysomething’s have experienced a near decade of transition – with more job and housing changes than a chameleon has colors. Change has been thrust on Gen Y like a blind date — we didn’t want it, but through the experience we learned something important.
Change is Gen Y’s normal.
As Professor Robert Quin writes in his book Deep Change:
“Change is hell. Yet not to change, to stay on the path of slow death, is also hell. The difference is that the hell of deep change is the hero’s journey.”
We’ve died a hundred times with every sent resume with no response, every hiring freeze or downsizing. We’ve had to change, morph, become better, more resilient.
The lack of a red carpet has forced Gen Y to find a different, better way to the party.
As the Fast Company article Generation Flux explains, “This is the moment for an explosion of opportunity, there for the taking by those prepared to embrace the change.”
Those who know how to change, will win. I see Gen Y with a big grin, holding the trophy.
2. We Received a Pinned Down, Painful, Shot of Humility and Patience.
The moment most of us crossed the graduation stage, we wanted success NOW. We were talented, motivated — we were the shiz that didn’t stink.
We wanted it our way. But quickly our way became no way in hell.
So we pouted. We threw tantrums like a five-year-old clutching a Tickle-Me-Elmo in a toy aisle.
But we’ve been forced to be patient and humble, slowly overcoming some of our greatest weaknesses. We’ve had the cocky slammed out of us like a Pinata at a brithday party.
And maybe that’s not the worst thing to happen?
What are your thoughts about “thanking” the Great Recession?
The most dangerous job you can have in your 20′s is a comfortable one.
Comfortable is a quicksand — the job you never wanted becoming the job you can’t escape.
Worse than no-job, frustrating job or a demanding job, is a job that demands nothing. Like taking basket weaving your senior year. Sure you’ll get an easy A, but what did you lose in return?
There is a stark cost for time wasted on comfortable.
Because you don’t grow with comfortable. You don’t learn. You don’t refine who you are or what you’re capable of.
No, comfortable is the leading cause for R.E.A.S – Rapidly Expanding Ass Syndrome. Your body, mind, and soul turning to goo. Because challenges refine. Remove challenges, remove growth.
The crux of your 20’s is not how much you make, but how much you learn, grow, and change. Those of us who refuse to change, as Professor Robert Quinn writes in Deep Change, will enter into a “slow death”. Before comfortable kills you, here are three signs it’s time to escape.
3 Signs Your Job is Too Comfortable (and it’s time to leave)
1. Culture of Complacency
Need to know if your office suffers from complacency? Pretty simple. How are new ideas received? Are they explored or instantly exploded with a shotgun of “that’s not possible.”
Are the unspoken rules of the office to keep your mouth shut and not rock the boat?
Are you allowed to tackle projects outside your “job description?”
Does your boss want to work there? Does your boss’s boss want to be there?
Complacency is a disease. Extremely contagious. Easily passed from one employee to another.
If your office permeates with a culture of complacency, especially from the top down – game over. Pack your bags. Time to leave.
I’m serious as a heart attack.
Because you, starry-eyed twentysomething, who comes in with new energy and ideas will be crushed over and over by tsunami waves of complacency. Until you shut your mouth, settle in, and catch the disease yourself.
In a culture of complacency there is a sick, perverted love affair with status-quo. And honestly, you’re probably not going to change it.
2. You Feel Drained By Doing Nothing
If you come home absolutely drained from work. If you need to watch 2-4 hours of TV a night to escape. Then you think back to your day and realize you really did nothing at work. You’re really just drained because your mind wasn’t stimulated.
You’re drained because you spread one hour of actual work over a span of eight.
Being drained by comfortable is a scary way to start living. Because it’s incredibly hard to escape. Like a carousel ride that never stops spinning. Jump and roll. Now.
3. “We Want to Promote You” is the Phrase you Fear Most.
If the idea of being promoted makes you more nauseous than the time you ate cotton candy and three churros before jumping on the spinning teacups ride, then why are you freaking working there? Simple as that. I can hear lots of “but Paul you don’t understand…”
No, I do understand. Comfortable is your drug. I’m checking you into a clinic.
Comfortable Will Kill You
Comfortable is like smoking — addictive and killing you with every puff. Quit before it’s too late.
What do you think — is a comfortable job as dangerous as I’ve made it out to be?
Photo by Beyond Neon via Creative Commons
I began down the path of self-leadership the moment I began writing a book.
I began writing my book to avoid a knife fight.
And slightly figuratively.
Let me explain…
Read the rest of the story at The Moxy Project where I have the privilege of guest posting today for the wisely incredible Michelle Molkoy.
Have you ever realized you’re great at telling everybody the truth, but yourself? You put others under a powerful NASA microscope and yet when you take a good hard look at you, it’s from atop the Goodyear Blimp.
Yep, that’s me. I can spot that blemish on someone’s face, that character flaw that’s holding her back, or that outfit that makes him look a little like Shamu after eating a school of krill – but when it comes to myself, I tend to plead complete ignorance….
To read the rest of this post head over to the fabulous Michelle Ward, the When I Grow Up Coach, where I had the immense privilege of guest posting today. I promise you won’t regret the e-journey. Why are you still reading this?? GO here.