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Quarter-Life Crisis Or Just Complaining?

The worries of young people

“The future,” she said. “My greatest worries are about the future.” Here was another twenty-something woman opening up about what caused her the most worry and here was the exact same answer I had heard from hundreds of other young men and women stuck at the quarter life transition point. I’ve asked that question to over two hundred people in their twenties for a book project on building a successful career. When I kept hearing answers that had nothing to do with career, but had a lot to do with fear I left the book project to began a new quest. I started asking people under thirty on planes, trains and automobiles the same question. “What do you worry about the most?” My friend’s daughter who answered the question above was typical of her generation because there has never been a group of people who had so many golden opportunities, mingled with so many harsh realities.

Quarter-life crisis

What do you say to someone stuck at the ‘quarter-life crisis’ transition point? You know, the place where you aren’t sure what you need to do in life, but are completely sure you’re falling behind the competition of your peers; (first to get married, first to have a baby, first to buy a house, first to get a master’s degree, first to have a killer job at NBC).  Parents, professors, peers and employers don’t give much love to people stuck in their twenties, because the pressures are often perceived as complaining – not crisis. Thankfully I knew what to say when she said, “the future.” Asking about the specifics, such as job, money, relationships, family, children and the environment allowed her to release some pressure as we sorted through her priorities. It’s amazing how quickly you can find a pathway to greater peace when you take time to map out your priorities. In less than an hour we had a basic life-map sketched out, complete with her major goals and time-tables which moved her from worry and stress to feeling more empowered and hopeful about her future.

Finding hope

Donald Trump said, “You will never be poor as long as you have hope,” and this twenty-something had found hope in a coffee shop with a simple legal pad. It makes me wonder how many bad marriages and bad decisions could be solved if someone took a few minutes to have an honest conversation about worry instead of criticizing someone who already knows their life is falling behind. Next time you are thinking about judging a twenty-something for being unmotivated, or lazy try helping them instead. Maybe that’s a better way to change America’s future since compassionate conversations often solve crisis events before they start. Grab a legal pad and try it.