Friday, May 23, 2008

Quarterlife Crisis

I was recently on vacation and caught up on some reading. One book that was particularly relevant and echoed a lot of my own personal observations about the turbulent twenties was "Quarterlife Crisis" by Alexandra Robbins.

It's sub-title "The Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties," is a good description of the book overall. It's a quick read and I would recommend it to someone just getting out of college (if you've already hit your 30s, you probably already know most of this stuff).

Thoughts on the book:
  • I wish I could have read this book when I was going through my own quarterlife crisis. It would have helped me recognize that everyone goes through this period of questioning in their mid-late 20s. One of the goals of the book is to illustrate how common it is so future generations realize they're not alone in their doubts and inner turmoil. I certainly would have been happy to know that I wasn't the only one banging my head against the wall. But then again, if it had been too easy, I might not have been compelled to be "part of the solution" by becoming a coach.
  • This book complements my coaching so well that I wish I had written it. It does a great job of highlighting all the issues facing twenty-somethings, with a number of different quotes and perspectives. I had a tiny bout of author-envy, especially when I found out she had published a book called The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids. I have yet to read that book, but it made me think I should get in touch with her (Alexandra, if you're reading this, we should grab coffee and chat!).
  • I think the reader would have benefited from a bit more in the way of answers or suggestions. The book was a very thorough collection of perspectives from questioning quarterlifers, and at the end I was hoping for more direction and resolution. A quick search on Amazon shows a follow-up book called Conquering Your Quarterlife Crisis which is more advice-based. I haven't picked up yet, but I will and I'll let you know if it's worth the read!
At the end of the book, I wanted to offer my coaching services for wayward or lost twenty-somethings as a follow-up resource. If you know someone struggling with a quarterlife (or midlife or 3/4-life crisis), send them my way. Maybe they'll include my information in the anniversary edition!

Friday, May 16, 2008

What's Your Passion Score?

As I read other blogs and learn about different approaches to coaching, I'll often come across things that might interest my readers. This is taken directly from the "Live What You Love" website and I think it's a good litmus test for how "alive" we feel. Go ahead - test your level of passion in, and for, life:
What's Your Passion Score?
Evaluate how much passion is in your day-to-day life and pinpoint which areas need some adjustment. Rate your answers to the following statements using a scale of 1-5 (1=True; 5=Not True).
  1. I wake up happy in the morning.
  2. I am hardly ever bored.
  3. If I could live my life over, I would change very little.
  4. I’m often excited about a new project at work.
  5. My overall outlook on life is positive.
  6. I frequently call friends and family members to share news about my latest accomplishment.
  7. I rarely daydream about my next vacation.
  8. My energy level is pretty high.
  9. I usually feel satisfied when I get home from work.
  10. I rarely wish I was doing something else.

Add the numbers to all of your responses together to get an idea of how passionate you are about what you do on a regular basis.


10-20: Fantastic! Your passion score is way above average. You are clearly passionate about how you spend your time and have confirmed that you need to focus on other areas of your life that might need to change.

21-30: You’re relatively happy with what you do but would most likely benefit from adding some more meaningful activities to your schedule.

31-40: You’ve got some work to do. You need to make some rather serious changes in order to enjoy life more and feel more satisfied.

41-50: You don’t need us to tell you that a significant change is in order. You already know that, don’t you?

I scored a 17, with a whopping 4 on the last question because I'd like to be doing 3 things at the same time and am frequently thinking about what's not getting done. No matter how happy I am, I think that's a common overachiever characteristic that's hard to shake.

  • What's your score?
  • Does it match your current level of aliveness?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

What Do You Want From Your Career?

I've always admired those people who know what they want in life and in their career. It seems so easy - they'll say "I want to be a _______" and then through a lot of hard work they achieve their goals and reach success. There are a few varieties that probably sound familiar:

The "Always Known"
These are the artists, musicians, inventors, writers, etc. who have "always known." For as long as they can remember, they've really enjoyed doing their trade and wanted to use their talents and would be forever happy if they could be immersed in these industries. I think this group is especially lucky because they rarely second-guess themselves about their future goals and allows them to assume that they'll be outside of the mainstream anyway and should just make up their path as they go along.

The "Long-Hauler"
The people in this category typically pursue a well-defined path, with a strong commitment to a long-term timeline in the hopes of attaining a high-level position. They might not say it outright, but you know that they're looking to be a VP, partner, tenured professor, chief cardiologist, CEO, etc. For most "long-haulers," this decision was made during or after college - either to pursue a professional path or to immerse themselves in a given industry. In some cases this decision was made arbitrarily, but their dedication to the track (whether out of stubbornness or enjoyment) still shows that they know what they want and are pursuing it whole-heartedly.

The "Career Changer"
This is the category that has gone through the wringer - they've had to clarify what they know they want, what they don't want, and then have the courage to make the leap. It might be the computer programmer who goes into musical theater, the middle-aged manager who decides to start a non-profit, or a recent Harvard grad who becomes a car mechanic. Not all career changes are that dramatic and anyone who has made a leap from one job/career to another knows how important it is to clarify their intended future direction.

In all 3 categories, their drive and motivation to excel come from their underlying desire to achieve their goals. This sense of purpose allows them to stay focused and achieve greater success.

But what if you don't know what you want? Chances are, you're probably in the majority who doesn't. Maybe you're sticking it out in a given job because you don't see many compelling alternatives. Or maybe you just haven't found anything that would excite you professionally.

What happens if we don't know what we want? Logically, if we can't clarify what we're looking for then it will be very difficult to get there. From Alice In Wonderland:
Alice: Oh, no, no. I was just wondering if you could help me find my way.
Cheshire Cat: Well that depends on where you want to get to.
Alice: Oh, it really doesn't matter, as long as...
Cheshire Cat: Then it really doesn't matter which way you go.
As we begin to think about what we really want, we must ask ourselves some "serious" questions and be prepared to invest in reflection and introspection. To get the ball rolling, grab a pen and complete the following sentences (be specific!):
  • At this moment, I would like a job that _________
  • I'd like a career or job that gives me _________
  • In my professional life, I find meaning and fulfillment in ___________
  • In 5 years, I'd like to be __________
This is just scratching the surface, but figuring out what you want is the first (and most difficult) step towards a fulfilling career. If you'd like to explore these questions with a bit more guidance and structure, you might consider coaching.

Check out my career coaching services at or email at and discover what you REALLY want and then take action to get there!