Step #2: Change Your Mindset. Realize You Have More Control than You Think.
So you’ve decided you need a change. That realization should be a relief, since it means you’re facing your quarter-life crisis head on.
Deciding what to change is easier said than done, however, especially because researchers have found that having too many choices can actually be paralyzing.
Let’s start with this wakeup call: feeling like your future is out of your hands is a surefire path to stagnancy and bad decisions. In fact, it can lead to what Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck calls a “fixed mindset” - when people consider their smarts and skills set in stone and “spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them.”
This outlook explains why some people find it hard to leave jobs or relationships once they’re comfortable.
To break it down simply, life is made up of two buckets: your destiny (what you’re meant to fulfill in this lifetime) and free will (the choices you make to steer you to that destiny, or far from it).
Once you realize that you do have control over your future and personal detours—and that your decisions can help you get to where you want to be in the future—things will start to fall into place.
In fact, realizing that you are the director of your own life—that you’re not just a puppet directed by an unseen force—is the next step to vanquishing your quarter-life crisis.
It all boils down to attitude.
Ambitious people adopt what Dweck calls a “growth mindset,” which is when people “believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point.”
The growth mindset concept naturally dovetails with the direction of the series: Going forward, we’ll explore how you can start to put change into action in your professional life, leading you to a fulfilling career.
Having a growth mindset will help you admit that wanting more from a perfectly acceptable job—one that’s neither incredibly interesting nor deathly boring—is absolutely fine. And at this point in life, absolutely necessary.
And it’ll be a reminder that while occasionally feeling unhappy or restless at work is completely normal—like any long-term relationship, a job has its ups and downs—you deserve to challenge yourself.
Giving up job security or stability is certainly scary, but a wrong decision or career move isn’t necessarily catastrophic, especially where careers are concerned. Each decision you make leads you further down your path, so what’s important is focusing on the decisions you need to make to ultimately find that professional happiness.