Quarter-life crisis occurs in five stages

By Shayna Brouker • Published: August 19th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Twenty-five is the new forty, according to scientists from the University of Greenwich. In today’s society, the timeline for accomplishing life’s to-do list has accelerated. By the time you turn thirty-five, you’re supposed to have found your dream job and thrive in it, married your soulmate, started a mortgage on a house as well as a brood of your own.

It’s a tall order for today’s college graduates, many of whom are experiencing what psychologists call the “quarter-life crisis” not long after embarking on life in the real world. But it doesn’t look like a flashy new million-dollar sports car.

According to a survey of fifty young adults who reported they had a quarter-life crisis, social scientists in England have broken down the event into five stages. Phase one starts with a claustrophobic feeling caused by life choice and a sense of “going through the motions;” work, commute, work, eat, sleep, repeat. Phase two is marked by a growing sense of claustrophobia, but a sense of hope, too, that life can be altered.

Phase three involves a drastic change, like quitting a boring job or suffocating relationship and trying new experiences. Phase four is the rebuilding period, and phase five includes constructing new commitments more aligned with new interests.

Researchers say idealists who want to achieve success traditionally defined as a happy marriage, family and a corner office are most at risk for having a quarter-life crisis. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing … eighty percent of those who had a quarter-life crisis said it was a positive experience. What’s more, those who “suffer” a revolution this early in their lives are far less likely to have a costly midlife crisis later on.

So if you’re feeling trapped in your cubicle or current relationship, don’t balk at backing out and starting over. A quarter-life crisis can create the life you really want … before you’ve even built it.