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Solving the quarter-life crisis

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February 24, 2005 Solving the quarter-life crisis By Kimiko L. Martinez The process isn't necessarily easy. Reprogramming a lifetime of expectations and societal pressure doesn't happen overnight. And authors and experts have different programs for working through the process. But there are some basics that most seem to agree on:

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Throw out the checklist "Totally get rid of the age deadline thing," Robbins said. "People treat the years between 20 and 30 as sort of a race, they're so focused on the end goal of romance, career or social network or geographic location. Instead of trying to nail down everything, 20-somethings are better off trying to enjoy the journey, instead of looking at the end game. It's healthy to make this a trial-and-error period." Stop comparing yourself to others "We all have innate skills and abilities," Hassler said. "We accept that we have different colors of hair, but we don't accept having different abilities," Hassler said. "Why should I be jealous of you because you play the piano? . . . It's ridiculous the way we compare ourselves to each other." Plus, you never know the whole story. What may look like the perfect marriage may be on the brink of divorce. And that guy with the enviable six-figure salary may seem like he's got it all together, but those 80-hour workweeks are taking a toll on his health and his relationships. Set realistic goals "Be specific about what you want," Hassler said. Instead of saying, "I want to be rich," Hassler said it's better to say, "I want a job that pays me $100,000 per year." And then take steps that lead toward that goal. "If we don't give ourselves realistic goals," Hassler said, "we just set up more opportunities to beat

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ourselves up and feel like failures." And give yourself time. The bigger, long-term goals are going to take longer to achieve. But breaking those goals into smaller, short-term goals can help keep things in focus, yet meet the need to feel like you're making progress. Understand the past Really analyze your actions and what expectations jibe with your values and belief systems.

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Hassler realized in her mid-20s that her desire to succeed and excel in a glitzy Hollywood job partly stemmed from childhood experiences.

2/25/2009 12:13 PM

Solving the quarter-life crisis

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"I was trying to prove to the popular group that I was cool and I wanted people to be jealous of me," Hassler said. "But the truth is, they've long since forgotten about me, and by the time I got there, it didn't even really matter at that point." Nurture yourself "We put ourselves on a timeline, but something suffers," Hassler said. "And with women, the thing that ends up suffering most is their own self-love, their self-confidence." So use your resources to rebuild yourself. Instead of spending the money to buy a purse or that autographed basketball, save the money and spend it on some therapy, if you think that will help, Hassler said. Spend 20 minutes per day meditating instead of rushing to a lunch date or scheduling a facial or massage. Invest time in interests and activities that help you feel fulfilled. By cutting out relationships and activities that don't add to your life, you can free up some of the time to pursue those interests you've been meaning to engage in. Redefine yourself So often, when people want to get to know someone, the first thing they ask is, "So, what do you do?" But if you're stuck in a job that you hate and is just sucking the soul out of you, your job is the last thing you want to define you. Instead, Robbins suggests, try answering with something that more closely describes your personality. "When you're asked that question, don't be afraid to answer with what's most exciting at the time," Robbins said. "Say, 'I kayak on weekends' or 'I paint.' " Listen to yourself "Changing your mind is a sign of growth," Robbins said. "Allow yourself to forge different paths, instead of sticking with certain tracts just because you've invested so much time in it." If you know deep inside that the career path you're currently on isn't what you want to do, explore other options. Quitting law school or med school three-quarters of the way in is probably less costly financially and emotionally than sticking with it just because you've made it this far. Chances are that in a couple more years you're only going to feel worse and be even more in debt than before. "Use this time to be selfish and self-absorbed, but in a positive way," Hassler said. "Investigate what you want. Then, in your 30s and 40s, you can just ride on that."

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2/25/2009 12:13 PM

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Hassler realized in her mid-20s that her desire to succeed and excel in a glitzy Hollywood job partly stemmed from childhood experiences. Ba...