Yesterday, LinkedIn published research that indicates that 75 percent of 25-to-33-year-olds have experienced a quarter-life crisis, defined as "a period of insecurity and doubt that many people in their mid-20s to early 30s go through surrounding their career, relationships, and finances."

Here are some highlights of the survey (which was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of LinkedIn among over 6,000 participants aged 25-to-33 across the United States, United Kingdom, India, and Australia):

  • Nearly 80 percent of those aged 25-to-33 have felt under pressure to succeed in relationships, career, or finances before hitting 30.
  • Finding a job or career that they're passionate about is the top reason this age group feels anxious (61 percent), even more so than about finding a life partner (47 percent) or dealing with student debt (22 percent).
  • Nearly half (48 percent) say comparing themselves to their more successful friends has caused them anxiety, with women feeling this significantly more than men (51 percent versus 41 percent)

"Going through this stressful period can lead those in their 20s and 30s to make big career and life shifts that impact their professional world," writes Blair Decembrele, director of editorial marketing and consumer communications at LinkedIn.

For example, the same survey indicated that career pivoting has become more commonplace, with more than a third of survey participants having changed careers, nearly a quarter (23 percent) taking a career break to reevaluate what they want to do, and one in 10 switching from full-time work to freelance or temporary assignments.

I faced a crisis some years ago, when I suddenly found myself unemployed with a wife and newborn baby at home. Those circumstances led me to start my own business, and I've never looked back. I learned an important lesson from that experience:

No one wants to face a crisis. But it can be one of the best things to ever happen to you.

How to Turn Your Crisis Into a Better Life

Whether you call it a "crisis" or simply coming to grips with reality, conducting an honest appraisal of where you are and where you're going is essential to living a life of purpose. This type of deep thinking can help you clarify your own definition of success, and provide a catalyst for any changes you deem necessary.

To turn your crisis into something positive, you need to exercise emotional intelligence--the ability to make your emotions work for you instead of against you. In my forthcoming book, EQ, Applied, I explain how we can turn feelings like fear and anxiety to our favor.

If you feel that you're beginning to buckle under the pressure of reaching your own expectations--or the expectations of others--here are two helpful tips:

1. Stop comparing yourself to others.

When you compare yourself unfavorably to others, you do yourself a disservice. It causes you to lose appreciation for all the positive things in your life--and instead focus on what you don't have.

While people of every generation have fallen into this trap, the problem has been exacerbated by social media. Success has become measured with Likes, shares, and followers. People share every personal highlight and seem to be living the "perfect" life.

But what you see on social media is a warped sense of reality. Few people post their bad days. Their struggles, their failures. Yet they all have them, just like you.

Remember: Life is not a competition. Stop worrying about what others have or are doing; instead, cultivate appreciation for your own strengths, accomplishments, and learnings.  

2. Define what success means to you.

Others may achieve business or career success more quickly than you. They may make more money or drive a nicer car.

Who cares?

While you may think that others are doing better than you, you might not feel the same if you knew their whole situation--including the struggles and sacrifices that accompany their "success." And there will always be someone who "has it better."

The truth?

Their achievements have nothing to do with your happiness.

Instead of allowing your peers to influence your concept of success, take time to reflect--and define what's important to you.

In the end, you may be inspired to make a job or career change after all. Or you may decide to work less or switch your focus--so you can spend more time with friends and family. Or travel more. Or accomplish some other goal.

Figure out what matters most to you. Stick to your priorities. Decide what course you want to follow--instead of allowing someone else to do it for you.

Do that, and you'll turn your crisis into an opportunity--to become the best possible version of yourself.

Published on: Nov 16, 2017
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.