In your 40s it’s called a midlife crisis and in your 20s it’s referred to as a "quarterlife" crisis. It really is a real thing, according to Dr. Randall Hansen, founder of Quintessential Careers, a career development site. You join thousands of twentysomethings around the globe entering a time of questioning that comes with the transition from college to work -- and from job to job.
Make a Plan
Perhaps like many professionals in their 20s, you took the first great-sounding job offered to you right out of college. Once you work for a while and decide that you’ve chosen a path that isn’t for you, make plans to change rather than just quit. Set realistic goals that could include going back to school and getting an advanced degree, something you might need to do while you stay in your current position. Consider where you want to be in five years and 10 years to carve out a plan that gets you there with the least amount of angst and cost.
Find a Mentor
There may be a way to keep your job and still get all you want and expect from your career. You have to remember that you haven’t reached your peak yet and you have to pay your dues. A mentor can share her experience with you and help you reach the career levels you expected to find when you chose your path. She can point you to those who did jump ship early in the career process and ended up regretting their decisions. Follow your mentor to meetings of professional associations, industry conventions and workshops to get pumped up about your career options. Give your first career choice a little more time before you jump ship and change course.
Follow Your Bliss
Just like your parents or their friends who switched career tracks later in life, you too may need to stop what you’re doing and make time to do what you really want to do instead of what you were told you had to do. Many college students don’t realize until they’re in the workforce that they were actually following someone else’s passion. One sure way to find out what you’ll be most happy with is to consider making a career out of a hobby that you attack with passion. Follow your bliss and you will be happy while earning a living. Martha Stewart is a good example of a young woman who left Wall Street after the economy went sour. She found her true calling while fixing up an old farmhouse.
There actually may be no better time to make a big career change than when you’re in your 20s. After all, you haven’t had time to grow deep roots in a family or community yet. Travel to find the best location to follow your new career goals, go ahead and dip into your savings to get retrained or start a business. The longer you wait, the more stuff, relationships and commitments you’re going to collect. Take the plunge now so that you don’t have to look back on your life with too many regrets. If not now, when?
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."