CareerQuest Newsletter
Quarterlife Crisis

March 2009
My dear friends, colleagues, clients and students:

In our desire to help as many people as we can, we have launched a new program called Career Stimulus Package. In essence, we have cut our fees for all services by 50%. You pay for one counseling hour and get the second hour FREE! This special offer is valid only until March 31, 2009, and may not be repeated again! To get your free hour of counseling, visit our Services page today!

During the course of a typical year, we receive several thank-you notes from satisfied clients. Here is an excerpt, a true success story about changing careers, from a highly-motivated young woman in her twenties. We wish her great success.

"I visited you because I was unsatisfied with my career in human resources. Your career assessment revealed a field that I had not before considered and knew very little about - Occupational Therapy. After observing their work in the field, I instantly fell in love with the profession. I left my job and took the great leap to full-time graduate school. After completing several internships and having passed my board exam, I will be starting my new job at a local subacute rehabilitation center, real soon. Thank you for helping me with my ideal career - I truly believe this is what I am meant to do with my life, and wouldn't have discovered it if I had not visited your office." - Christina B., NJ

CareerQuest has been invited to present an evening seminar at the Institute of Industrial Engineers - Raritan Valley (Central NJ) Chapter, on Wednesday, March 25, 2009. The topic is Making Yourself Marketable in a Down Economy (How to Make Your Job Recession-Resistant).

We are planning to join a discussion group, Pumps and Ties Career Empowerment Group, which meets every Monday at 8:00pm, at Barnes & Noble, in Springfield, NJ. The main objective of this self-help group is to assist one another through networking and advice. Participants may be unemployed, under-employed or looking for a job change. Attendees are requested to bring their resumes and business cards.

CareerQuest is also in negotiations with Browning Associates to be listed on their Executive Career Advisory Network, to provide telephone consultations to their clients.

Several of our articles will continue to appear on the website, www.biz4nj.com. The mission of this website is to Help Garden State business grow.

Career Doctor Don Answers Your Questions appears as a regular feature in the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) - New Jersey Chapter newsletters. Visit www.ispe.org to read more.

Our book, Career and Life Counseling From the Heart (Your Career is a Pathway to Your Soul!), has received excellent reviews from our readers. Check it out at Amazon. You will also be able to peek inside the book!

Until we meet again, through the magic of email, have a pleasant, positive and productive month. Let's never forget, Think Positive and Encourage One Another Daily!

Peace! Love! Shalom!

Don Sutaria, MS, IE (Prof.), PE
Founder, President & Life-Work Coach
CareerQuest


What in the World is a Quarterlife Crisis?


Lately, I have received telephone inquiries from a number of potential clients in the 20-29 age group. Career decisions in the present economy are not a piece of cake! The common thread in these conversations is a feeling of panic. The callers are indecisive and also harbor feelings of helplessness. Many wonder if they are alone in this dilemma. I have to assure them that it is a common problem in that age group, and that they will survive this tumultuous period.

If you are not convinced, just look around in your own family and those of your neighbors. What it boils down to is that it is taking longer and longer to pass from the adolescent to the adult stage. Traditional milestones such as living on their own, financial independence after paying off student loans, marriage, and starting a family, seem to be delayed. Statistics show that an average American college graduate changes jobs at least eight times before the age of 32! Education loan debt averages $20,000-$40,000, and in some professions even $170,000! The average age even for marriage and settling down is 27 for women and 29 for men. Surprise!
The Quarterlife Crisis, akin to Midlife Crisis, is about a major life change.
In 2001, Alexandra Robbins and Abby Wilner wrote a very insightful book titled, Quarterlife Crisis: The Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties. Both authors were twentysomethings at that time, and what they wrote came from their heart. A website worth exploring is www.quarterlifecrisis.com.

I must admit that the title of this book caught me by surprise. It was intriguing enough to make me buy the book and study it, since career counseling of Generation-X (age 20-29) clients is one of my specialties. Besides, at that time I had two sons in that category. Norman (age 26) was a photojournalist (now an instructional technology specialist at a college in New York City) and Dale (age 22) was a web site designer (currently an e-commerce entrepreneur working with ecology-related products). I had also asked them to read the book and give me their salient comments.

Many of their comments coincided with mine. However, I still can't get over the fact that as an aging baby boomer in the upper range, I considered my period from age 20-29, the best decade of my life, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Perhaps the cultural and generational differences in attitude and behavior are obvious!

The Quarterlife Crisis, akin to Midlife Crisis, is about a major life change. It is very real and possibly more devastating than the midlife crisis. The endless array of decisions facing twentysomethings can make them feel utterly lost. According to the authors, being a twentysomething in the "real world" isn't easy. There are an overwhelming number of choices regarding careers, finances, living situations, and relationships. This period is, in fact, a whirlwind of new responsibilities and freedoms that can make young people feel helpless, indecisive, and panicked.

The book is written in anecdotal style, and includes the stories of more than one hundred subjects. The sampling, in my opinion, appears to be too homogeneous to make broad-brush generalizations. It appears that these young women and men come from predominantly white, middle class, college educated families. Their counterparts on the other end of the economic and educational scales may not be experiencing the same degree of angst.

The subjects describe their struggles to:
  • Figure out a direction
  • Carve out a personal identity
  • Resolve self-doubts
  • Cope with decision making
  • Balance the many demanding aspects of personal and professional life
Besides the introduction, What Is the Quarterlife Crisis?, the book is divided into seven chapters. These are: How Am I Supposed to Figure Out Who I Really Am?, What If I'm Scared to Stop Being a Kid?, What If I Fail?, What Do All of These Doubts Mean?, How Do I Know If the Decisions I'm Making Are the Right Ones?, How Do I Work Out the Right Balance Among My Career, Friends, Family, and Romance?, and Can I Carry any Part of My College Experience into the Real World?

Many of the above questions are being wrestled with continuously by people of all ages. In sum total, this is not a pessimistic book. In the words of the authors, the conclusion states: "We are only suggesting that the quarterlife crisis is at least as important, widespread, and strenuous as the midlife crisis, and therefore deserves the same kind of recognition. There are many advantages to being twentysomething, surely, but people know about those. What they do not acknowledge is that there is a dark side as well. Because no one ever talks about this dark side, twentysomethings are surprised when they encounter it, and discouraged when they believe they are the only ones who experience it."

Some psychologists believe that Erik H. Erikson's developmental theory may help explain some portions of Quarterlife Crisis. Erikson had suggested that human beings face eight crises during lifelong development, conflicts they must resolve. One can read in his theory that he also proposed the existence of a life crisis occurring at this age, that is, between the ages of 20 and 29. He associated this conflict with young adulthood in the Intimacy vs. Isolation crisis. After establishing a personal identity in adolescence, young adults seek to form intense romantic relationships. Many experts believe that Erikson's Identity vs. Role-confusion is more in line with the present Quarterlife Crisis, and that modern day living with extreme comfort and luxuries but high insecurity levels, cause people to take a much longer time to mature.



Don Sutaria, also known a "Career Doctor Don", is Founder and President of CareerQuest. He has been quoted frequently in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, on radio and television and has taught at various colleges. He is the author of Career And Life Counseling From The Heart (Your Career is a Pathway to Your Soul!).