Careers

6 ways to turn your quarter-life crisis around in 2017

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For many young professionals, 2016 was a difficult year. Between a tumultuous election, news of violence overseas and in the U.S. and the death of many loved celebrities, there was a lot to work through.

If you're roughly between the ages of 20 and 30, a quarter-life crisis might have made the year even more difficult. According to research by psychologists of the University of Greenwich and University of London, nearly 90 percent of millennials say they've experienced a jolting period of confusion and depression during this life stage.

One young man, who was broke and unemployed at 27, offers hope. In his book "The Quarter-Life Breakthrough," Adam Poswolsky details how he turned his crisis into a valuable career as a writer, speaker and millennial career expert.

Poswolsky went from having no idea what he wanted out of life to landing gigs with numerous Fortune 500 companies and getting paid thousands of dollars to speak.

So how did he turn a quarter-life crisis around? The successful speaker, consultant and author has a few tricks.

Here are six ways to make 2017 more meaningful and productive from a guy who has been there:

1. Get off of social media for one week

When Poswolsky landed a job that paid $70,000 with the Peace Corps, breaking his streak of unemployment, he should have been happy. But he was miserable.

He knew the job wasn't one he truly wanted, but he couldn't figure out his next step. That was, he realized, because he kept comparing himself to his friends on social media.

"In order to stop worrying about what other people think and start figuring out what you want, take a one-week social media sabbatical, beginning on Monday," he writes.

Delete Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest from your phone, or at least turn off notifications.

Instead, "try experimenting daily with a creative activity that you love to do, like writing in your journal, photography or drawing."

This will give you the quiet time you need to get in touch with what you envision, and actually want, for yourself.


2. Look backwards

If hindsight is 20/20, then take advantage of the clear perspective. Examine what moments in your past defined and inspired you, Poswolsky suggests.

"Being able to articulate the defining moments that have shaped your life will help you get closer to realizing who you are and what your breakthrough is all about," he says.

Identify several moments in your life that have had the most impact on your journey so far. Ask yourself questions like, "What have I loved doing?" and "What missions have I been drawn to?"


3. Do a 'Fact or Fear' exercise

Once you have an idea of the direction you want to go in, take pen to paper to defeat your fears. Poswolsky says that one exercise in particular has helped him and his friends.

Jot down a list of all the doubts you have. Then, below each of your doubts, clarify whether it's based on a fact, something you have researched and know objectively to be true, or only a fear. For example:

Doubt: There's no money in health and wellness.

Answer: Fear. Fitbit has more than 50 million in investment and other start-ups and companies are hiring.

Doubt: I need a degree or license to work in health, so maybe I can't afford it.

Answer: Partial fact. You may need a license of a degree, but it's possible some companies could provide training to you or even pay for your exam fees.

"Fear is a powerful force that can derail a breakthrough," Poswolsky writes. So start researching your fears to find out if they are in fact accurate and worth paying attention to.


4. Trade a career ladder for lily pads

There's a problem with defining your career as a ladder, Poswolsky says. That defines success in one very specific way, as a climb in a single direction. What happens if you're no longer drawn to getting the next title bump or salary raise?

The career ladder metaphor seems safer, he writes, but it limits experimentation, which helps you figure out your passions.

Instead, think of your career like a series of jumps to different lily pads in a pond.

"Each lily pad is a job or opportunity that's available, and you can jump in any direction that makes sense for you, given your purpose (how you want to help the world)," he writes.

Short term, entry-level experiences can be a great way to test your theory.

"If you want to turn your quarter life crisis into a breakthrough and move beyond feeling stuck, hopeless and overcome with FOMO," he writes, "take tangible steps to explore what you're interested in."


5. Call yourself what you want to be

If you don't have the courage to call yourself what you want to be, no one is going to hire you or pay you to be it.

When Poswolsky started calling himself a public speaker and writer, he was introduced to people in the same industries, developed connections and landed jobs.

Naming is powerful.

"Put yourself out there and call yourself what you are," he writes.


6. Build community

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett know that success doesn't exist in a vacuum, and one of their favorite books argues just that.

"Breakthroughs require personal hustle, but they also require outside help," Poswolsky writes.

If you don't currently have friends or acquaintances who you can discuss your plans with, find a network through social media or sites like Meetup.com, he suggests.

"When you share your plan with others, you increase your chances of finding supporters who can help you achieve your breakthrough," he writes.

For more great career advice, check out the visual trick one former Google career coach uses to help people design their future.