A quarter-life crisis happens.
A mid-life crisis unfolds.
I have thought both are frauds or distractions. Just do your work, and all will be fine, I thought. But not all will be fine. A crisis may be an overstatement. Terminology throws us.
- Is struggling with where you are with your career a crisis?
- Is feeling off-balance in your life a crisis?
- Is feeling muddled a crisis?
Questions ricochet within us in our quarter-life and mid-life. A crisis? Maybe. It also may be an opportunity for a watershed.
Watershed moments are turning points and, in our quarter or mid-life moments, we are seeking a new direction, right? At the least, we feel a need to explore a new direction. We need to grab ahold of these quarter-life and mid-life watershed moments and go in deep.
Quarter-Life and Mid-Life Crises
When I think about my mid-to-late twenties, I was having a quarter-life crisis. We did not think about our life in these terms then, but I was uncertain if I was making enough progress fast enough. I thought I would be farther along. I thought I would be having a bigger impact.
Fast forward to my mid-life, which is now. I decided to uproot my career without a clearly defined plan. I felt stuck. Repetition of work was the cycle. I could stay. The easy answer is stay or just buy a sports car.
Here’s where I failed the first time and how I am trying not to fail the second time. A quarter-life crisis is a watershed moment, and we need to go in deep by answering key crux questions. We cannot just muddle through or think it will all just work itself out. If we take simple path, we will remain at the surface level of what our life and career means. We lose sight of our better possibility.
We need to think more deeply. We need to act more thoughtfully.
We need to explore, discover, and then plot a renewed path forward. We cannot put it on the backburner. Instead, we need to be front-and-center and ask the tough purpose-filled questions about what impact we want to have on our corner of the world sooner rather than later.
Key crux questions include:
- Is my primary goal to make a living or create a living?
- What role does money play – work toward elusive earlier payoffs or work consistently for steady savings?
- How will my life matter today, next month, next year, and twenty years from now? What impact do I want to make and be remembered for?
- What brings joy inside of me, and what brings joy to those around me?
Today, I am trying not to miss the opportunity of a life watershed moment. I am thinking it through, discerning, and – most importantly – being active in doing things to see what fits to make a bigger impact than before.
Do Not Miss Watershed Moments
I don’t know what I missed exactly. What I missed was exploring how to create a more meaningful life. In my twenties, I heard the words of Jesse Jackson of my teens – “I am somebody.” If I am to be somebody, didn’t I need to do more, be more?
Quarter-Life Watershed Moments
Research into quarter-life crises place numbers on what we feel: “86% of the 1,100 young people questioned admitted feeling under pressure to succeed in their relationships, finances and jobs before hitting 30.” A psychologist, Nathan Gehlert, Ph.D., brings the point home. In our twenties, individuals are “highly driven and smart, but struggling because they feel they’re not achieving their potential or feeling they’re falling behind.”
We feel like we want to do more. Succeeding is just the surface. To make it a watershed moment, we need to go below the surface and think in terms of how to make the most positive impact with our time over the next ten years. We need to dig deep into our mind-heart connection and find what aligns most to use both to their fullest capability.
Mid-Life Watershed Moments
Research into the mid-life crisis shows a U-curve element. We start life happy and then descend in our 20s and through our mid-to-late 50s and, at this point, we begin to climb up to happiness and satisfaction again. We seek and work anew to gain meaning in our outcomes.
As an article in The Atlantic indicates: “It turns out that there is good science about this gift: studies show quite strongly that people’s satisfaction with their life increases, on average, from their early 50s on through their 60s and 70s and even beyond—for many until disability and final illness exact their toll toward the very end (at which point it’s hard to generalize).”
For me, we cannot miss this inflection point. We need to lean into our watershed moment and build a new path up toward better relationships, more meaningful impacts in our communities, and a renewed joy in what we do.
A Generational Opportunity
Today, some Boomers and GenXers stereotype Millennials with many wrong attitudes and beliefs. The reality is these older generations may be in the bottom plateau of the U-curve, jealous of the freshness the next generation begins. As a new generation begins their descent, older generations determine how to scale the curve to happiness and meaningful consequence again. We are in a similar place but on a different trajectory.
What an opportunity to meet in the middle! Older generations are figuring out how to gain happiness and have a more positive impact. Younger generations 5-10 years into their life work are figuring out how to gain happiness and have a more positive impact. In the middle of these two watershed moments creates an opportunity for a meaningful, deeper conversation.
Sharing experiences for those entering the U-curve of life and those climbing out of it seems like a perfect opportunity to talk about expectations, opportunities, misses, successes, depths, peaks, and so much more.
Old and young sitting across the table from each other with hearts and minds open can flatten the U-curve of life. By sharing experiences, we can lift up each other and draw a higher line of life to walk upon. Happiness, meaning, and positive impact become the foundation rather than the valley of wanting more.
Old and young sitting across the table from each other with hearts and minds open can flatten the U-curve of life.Tweet
What We Need in Our Quarter-Life and Mid-Life
In our quarter-life and mid-life, what we need is to talk to the other side. We need to share our experiences and learn from each other. We need to:
- Be open-minded
- Be honest
- Be courageous
- Be vulnerable
- Be willing to change
- Accept accountability
- Practice kindhearted listening
- Drop barriers
- Open the conversation
The quarter-life and mid-life forces need to join together in conversation. Each generation carries this responsibility to do so.
- If you are having a quarter-life conversation and no one over 30 is involved, then find someone older and find out where they are and what they are trying to figure out.
- If you are having a mid-life conversation and no one under 30 is involved, then find someone younger and find out where they are and what they are trying to figure out.
When we meet in the middle of our life crises, we redefine the moment, and a watershed life glow begins. Together, we find how to have a bigger impact where are now. Maybe this is what is meant about being present.
Take the mindful moment. Don’t waste the moment. After all, this is the necessity of quarter-life and mid-life crises.
Join the conversation.
- How have you shared your quarter-life crisis? How have you shared your mid-life crisis?
- How will your conversations change? How can we engage between the two sides of life’s U-curve?
- What questions will you ask in your quarter-life or mid-life watershed moment?