The Quarter-Life Crisis


I have spent this summer writing up my research on the quarter-life crisis which I completed as part of my Masters in Coaching & Mentoring Practice (which explains why I haven’t posted on this blog for a while!).

It was important for me, as a coach working with clients in their 20s and 30s, to understand this experience in order to coach clients in the most effective way and to appreciate the maze of unique issues they might be facing.

In summary, it would seem that the quarter-life crisis can happen at any age as it is often triggered by particular life events such as leaving University, the end of a relationship or redundancy. Leaving University was the big trigger in those that I interviewed.

During our 20s and 30s we seem to struggle for several years, trying to figure out who we are, what we like and dislike and what we want to do with our lives. We want to establish our own unique identity more than anything but the current climate frustrates this process by hindering our ability to become truly independent as debts mount, the property market is untouchable and jobs are few and far between.

We are fully aware that our society and our parents expect us to be settled down, be married, have children, a career and a house by the age of 30. We get anxious and worried when we are nowhere near achieving these goals by that age. It is no surprise that we aren’t though. Our generation is like no other before. It is taking us longer to become independent and ‘grown up’ because we are staying in education much longer than ever before (I’m 29 and only just finished!) and as mentioned above, we don’t appear to have the money to start leading ‘grown up’ lives until well into our 30s.

Yet, social media exposes us to friends, acquaintances and celebrities who appear to have it all already, throwing us into further panic as we constantly compare ourselves to others, resulting in us feeling inadequate and like a failure.

We are desperate to commit to one particular career path, mainly because this is what generations before us did. But now we want one which will be meaningful and rewarding, but we can’t decide which one is for us because our options are simply endless. As a result, we’re left feeling very confused and uncertain about what to do. We end up like a rabbit in headlights, stuck where we are, not knowing what to do.

So how can coaching help if you feel like this?

According to the clients interviewed for this study, coaching is effective in the following ways:

Sessions offer you direction and focus

Goal-setting and action planning exercises help you feel less confused and overwhelmed by your options. You are able to clearly plan what to do next, how and by when.

You learn new skills

Instead of spending years wondering how to do things, performance and skills training sessions develop the skills you need to implement your action plans. For example, clients benefit from exercises designed to develop their assertiveness skills, ability to prioritise, reflect, and view situations from alternative point of views.

You feel more confident

Coaching sessions allow you to discover what it is you really want to do, what your passions are, what careers might suit you and which ones might not. You learn more about yourself through self-awareness and reflection exercises, which allow you to feel more confident and happy in yourself. This in turn makes you feel more certain that the path you end up choosing is suited to you.

If you identify with any of the above, please email me or call me on 0754 559 2909 to discuss how coaching might be able to help you move forward right away.

Alice Stapleton

About Alice

Alice coaches those who want to change career but don’t know what they want to do instead. She offers Career Coaching designed to help graduates, early to mid-level career-changers, and parents returning to work gain a clear vision of what career is right for them, and how to achieve it. She is also an accredited Coach Supervisor, and host of The Career Change Diaries podcast.