Wednesday January 22, 2014
Remember your ‘twenty-something’ years? Perhaps you’re still living them? Regardless of age, if there is one thing I’ve learnt it’s that your twenties are not always the carefree years you may expect, with few financial commitments and many late night parties.
It appears that as technology has sped up our society, it has also sped up our life experiences, bringing the hallmarks of a mid-life crisis to many in their twenties. Empirical research undertaken at the University of Greenwich has concluded that a large proportion of ‘twenty-somethings’ are experiencing insecurities, disappointments, anxieties and depression – just some of the symptoms associated with a ‘quarter-life crisis’.
Is this really such a surprise though? People are now spending the majority of their life in education, dreaming about having it all, and having it quickly. The media with its tales of teenage millionaires and the ability to earn money from being televised and ‘reality’ shows exaggerating what is actually very rare. At last count, youth unemployment stood at 2.39 million, research from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development warned that those under 30 years old should expect to spend at least two years without work, city centre housing prices has escalated pricing many young people off the property ladder, the cost of living continues to rise and Universities are now charging anything up to £9,000 in fees; leaving a nice pile of post-graduation debt.
However, despite the gloomy faces on the tubes, high expectations and statistics pointing to a very real and bleak quarter-life situation; we all have the opportunity to take control and ensure that we can survive, thrive and high-five in both our work and personal worlds.
In her new book, Jane Sunley tackles the challenges of both being out of work and stuck in a dead-end job head on, helping individuals to re-evaluate and embark on the right career. From a sneak preview of the book, here are some top tips to killing that crisis:
1. Start with the end in mind
As children, we all wanted to be astronauts, happily telling anybody that would listen our plans to see Earth from Space. As you embark on your career, that question is often faced with dread. So before you think of your most desired job title, Sunley recommends stepping back and evaluating what you want from life and your career. To do this? Work out your desired epitaph. This exercise is about working out the destination, not the journey. So keep it big picture e.g. “I helped people” and remember, however unlikely your end goal may seem, having one to work towards, makes it possible.
2. eValue what’s important
Your dream job, relationship, happy ending or whatever aspiration you’re aiming for is out there, however it’s unlikely that without knowing what you stand for and where you’re starting from that you’ll be able to reach it.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid” (Albert Einstein)
It’s important you recognise that your values and your strengths are what help you achieve your end goal; so, for example, if your current job doesn’t match what you’re all about you are Einstein’s unhappy fish. So get to know yourself, identify your core values and check that all you do in life fulfils these. Visit Jane’s website www.janesunley.com and take the e-values quiz which, with astonishing accuracy, will help you identify your personal values in priority order.
3. Show me the money
Too often, individuals are lured onto the incorrect career path due to the money associated with the role. It’s not until you get there that you realise the job isn’t what you thought it was and it doesn’t provide you with the expected fulfilment; meaning 40 hours of your week is spent unhappy. Ask yourself: what price are you prepared to put on your happiness?
Yes, money is important. However, remember those crisis-forming expectations? It’s about being true to yourself - the money you earn should be viewed as a by-product of your job. Make your career choice on happiness and in time, the remuneration will follow.
So there you have it, expectations are high and preparation for fulfilling them is low. Despite this, you shouldn’t try and change the former: whilst expectations and ambition are a catalyst for a crisis, they are also the key to success. So change the latter. The world is still your oyster at twenty, and whilst every serving may have a few dodgy shells, if you prepare and are aware of the difficulties that come when embarking on the ‘career superhighway’, you’re likely to be dining on Michelin-star oysters, sooner than you think.