09 November, 2022

Who am I? What do I want to do with my life? What is my purpose?

These are all common questions asked during a quarter-life crisis.

Much like a midlife crisis, a quarter-life crisis can bring uncertainty, questioning, and intense soul-searching. It generally sets in during the early twenties and may last into the early thirties.

During a quarter-life crisis, you might experience anxiety around your identity, career path, and general place in the world – along with a sense of urgency and panic to figure it all out.

Some of the common factors that can trigger a quarter-life crisis might include graduating university, moving out of home, job searching or career planning, and comparison to peers.

While your twenties and thirties are thought to be some of the best years of your life, it’s normal to experience periods of uncertainty and anxiety around your goals, plans, and life direction.

We hope this advice helps if you’re experiencing a quarter-life crisis.


Quarter-life crisis symptoms

If you’re preoccupied with questions or worries about your choices and future, you may be experiencing a quarter-life crisis.

Here are some other common signs of a quarter-life crisis.

Feeling restless and craving change

Are you feeling antsy in your everyday routine? Struggling to concentrate or find satisfaction in the things you used to enjoy? You might feel like you’ve been on autopilot and need excitement and change – whether it’s to your appearance, your environment, or your hobbies.

Feeling directionless

It may seem that everyone around you has a calling and a plan mapped out for their future, while you feel lost and directionless. You may feel pressure to choose how you want your future to look, and fear that you’ll make the ‘wrong’ decision.

Being overwhelmed by decisions

Having options is generally a good thing, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed by possibilities during a quarter-life crisis. You might struggle to make decisions or feel the stakes are higher, spending more time than usual considering all the outcomes.

Feeling like you’re falling behind your peers

You might look at where your friends and peers are in life and worry you’re falling behind. Comparing your journey or ‘progress’ to others can be a major sign of – or trigger for – a quarter-life crisis.

Feeling like you’re trapped

Whether it’s a relationship, a job, or even a town, you might feel stuck in a situation or commitment you’re not happy with. You might spend time going over the pros and cons of making a change or focusing on the reasons why you’re stuck. For example, you might feel your current role is the only job you’re qualified for, or you can’t afford to relocate to a new area.

Feeling like you’re running out of time

During a quarter-life crisis, you might fear you’re running out of time to tick off all the things you’d wanted to do. Maybe you had a timeline or an age in mind for marriage and children, or to tick some travel off your bucket list, and not meeting those milestones has you feeling your ideal future slip away.


How to get through a quarter-life crisis

If you’re having a tough time dealing with anxiety and questioning around who you are and what you’re doing with your life, these strategies might help.

Remember it’s normal

Quarter-life crises are common. Chances are even your most ‘put together’ peers have experienced some uncertainty and insecurity around their identity and life choices too. Remind yourself that a quarter-life crisis is a shared experience for many people in their twenties and thirties, and you probably have some friends who can relate.

Stop comparing

Don’t lose your gratitude for all the good in your life by comparing your situation to others’. Comparison sets us up for failure and dissatisfaction, feeding negativity and resentment. Remember that everyone is different and there’s no one-size-fits-all template for a happy life. There’s only one of you, and your life is going to reflect your unique experiences and personality.

Prioritise self-reflection

Take time to get to know yourself. You might do this by meditating, journalling, doing self-discovery activities, or seeing a counsellor. Determining what’s important to you can help you make choices that align with your values. This will help you build a future that brings you fulfilment and happiness – whatever that looks like to you.

Make a plan

Once you’ve become more self-aware and in tune with your thoughts and feelings, you may be able to start answering some of the questions you’ve pondered during your quarter-life crisis. Find a time when you’re in a relaxed and positive headspace and list some of the short-term and long-term goals you’d like to achieve and the steps to get there. This can help you become more focused and confident in doing what’s right for you.

Be patient as you figure it out

Whatever your journey, there are always going to be bumps along the way. That’s just a part of being human. There’s no rush to have all the answers, and it’s fine (and normal!) to change direction as you learn and grow. Be patient with yourself while you work it out.

Seek professional support

If you’re having persistent anxiety about your future or your concerns are impacting your daily life, it might help to speak to a counsellor. Our experienced counsellors offer a safe space to explore your thoughts and feelings and help you find solutions and coping strategies.

You can learn more about our counselling service here, or call 1300 364 277 to book an appointment in person, over the phone, or via Zoom video call.

We offer tips to silence your inner critic in this blog post.