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The 5 Phases of Your Quarter-Life Crisis

March 21, 2015:

It’s been a few years since I wrote this piece.

I’m co-hosting a webinar this Tuesday with life coach, Shawna Kaye, and we’re going to get down and dirty and discuss what it means to be going through, and moving beyond a quarter life crisis.

This talk isn’t just for those who are closer to 25 than 30. It’s for people who are still stumbling in the search to find their way regardless of age. This is about pushing forward.

When I first wrote this piece I was 27, confused, and battling my own crisis of sorts. I’d left my job, did some traveling, and embraced freelancing as a full time hustle only to discover that it didn’t make me happy, either.

I was lost.

Today, I’m somewhere around the tail end of four, moving into five. And I can tell you that the journey from Stage 1 to where I am now, was not easy.

For a long time, I couldn’t even talk about it. And there are still some words, thoughts, stories, that I haven’t found the courage to speak about.

Until now. I’ll be sharing stories, answering questions, and hopefully keeping you all encouraged wherever you may be on your journey.

Come rock out with me on Tuesday.



Most definitions of “quarterlife crisis” that we see involve careers in some way.

There is the first crisis that usually happens during college when you don’t know which major to pick, and then the next might happen when you figure out that school might not be for you.

The next crisis happens at graduation, when suddenly thrust into the “real world” you have no idea what you should do now, and the following happens when you find out that either what you majored in doesn’t provide good job prospects, or that your job is slowly sucking away at your soul.

But there are other factors to the crisis of the quarter life variety that don’t involve your job.

There is the feeling you get when it seems as if your peers are surpassing you at hitting all of life’s benchmarks.

Or the way you feel when you realize that what you want doesn’t look at all like what the rest of the world thinks you should be striving for.

And it’s that moment when you have to decide to attempt to be “normal” just for the sake of keeping the social peace in your life, or to ride out the waves of discomfort when you decide to do your own thing.

5 Phases of Crisis

According to a study presented by the British Psychological Society, there are five phases to the quarter-life crisis (via New Scientist):

Phase 1 – A feeling of being trapped by your life choices. Feeling as though you are living your life on autopilot.
Phase 2 – A rising sense of “I’ve got to get out” and the feeling that you can change your life.
Phase 3 – Quitting the job or relationship or whatever else is making you feel trapped and embarking on a “time out” period where you try out new experiences to find out who you want to be.
Phase 4 – Rebuilding your life.
Phase 5 – Developing new commitments more attuned to your interests and aspirations.

Crisis. Multilevel and multi-meaning in every single way; and it’s just damn exhausting.

So what is the quarter-life crisis, really?

I think it’s the moment when your heart is urging you to stop, to be more self-aware, and to think carefully about if and how you want your life to deviate from the norm.  It’s natures way of pushing you towards more than you were ready to settle for.

That’s what I think. How about you?

***Join me over the next few weeks as I examine each phase of the quarter-life crisis. If you have ideas for particular things that you think I should examine, contact me.

Amber J.

A thirty-something N.Y.C. transplant, Amber J. is a Southern Belle living in an urban space. She developed The Fab Life Project to create a space online where millennials can celebrate the every day adventures while striving to create a life they love.

  • Link

    Soo what if my wife is on step 3. We’ve been together 5yrs and she wwants out now. I know she’s had trouble fi ding a job in the area she wants and she was laid off from her job but is there any hope I can win the love of my life back?

    November 5, 2013 at 8:47 pm
    • Amber J.

      Hey Link,

      I think the key is in the last part of what you said: “but I know she has to find herself and I hope I will be part of it” I’m hesitant to give advice in such a serious situation, but I will toss out an idea: tell her that you love her, that you want to be there for her, and that you are happy to give her the space she needs to figure some things out on her own. I know that might be hard to hear, but if you are steadily trying to fight her on her decisions because of your beliefs, you might end up pushing her away. I know it’s scary to give someone space, and fear that they may never come back, but you don’t want to smother her, either.

      In the meantime, go for some counseling to talk this out with someone. Suggest that maybe she should see someone independently, and when you all make it through the rough patch, seek some help together.

      I wish you well, and I hope that helped in some way.

      November 6, 2013 at 8:47 pm
      • Link

        Yes I have been giving her space and I’m going to counseling. Though she thinks I’m still there and that I’ve even turned her family against her. Though I don’t talk to them as per her wishes and I believe she is seeing a friend of mine. They hang out every day and she will pck him up from work too. I really want to fight for this marriage. I know its all in her mind though that she has to be ready. Its just something I never expected would happen. Its like one day were ok and the next its I want a divorce. We have only been married a year and we had been together for 7 years. I know communication is a big key but when she seems upset she would not tell me when I ask. She would go through others to talk to me instead of coming directly to me to talk or insteaf not talk at all. But I love her to death I do. I know this is not an easy topic I hope to find a way. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to the last comment.

        November 7, 2013 at 11:58 am
        • Cory

          This is the closest I’ve seen to my current situation. My wife wants a divorce after 5 years and 2 kids. She just told me she’s going through a quarter life crisis. I’m pretty sure she is seeing an ex coworker of hers as she is with him constantly. I too went to counselling through this and she even drunkenly on night told me I was a better man thend before, but still insisted on ending it. How did your situation progress Link? Any help or advice?

          October 26, 2016 at 2:30 am
  • brandihawthorne

    I’m in Phase 4 and I’ll definitely be blogging about this! I enjoyed every article.

    April 15, 2013 at 6:49 am