I quit my full-time development job recently because I simply did not want to work as a developer anymore. For those who haven’t known me personally, I’ve been hooked to technology at the age of 13. I’ve always been very passionate about it, that I even quit college just to pursue working full time as a freelance developer. (A deeper story found on my About page). So what happened?
One day I woke up feeling uninspired, confused and stuck. I could not get myself to work on my job. Instead, I’d turn my focus on other things like writing, reading, learning about marketing and public speaking! Just looking at the sight of code even made me feel uneasy. Just when you thought you’d be doing something for the rest of your life, like for example, a profession in nursing or computer science or engineering, only to find out later on it’s not something you wanted to do after all.
Know that it’s perfectly normal
Some people call it a quarter-life crisis, oftentimes, being lost. The day you leave home after graduating (or simply wanting to start working) comes in a breeze. You start working for a few years, but then your job starts to become a routine, and being an early adult as you are, you feel confused and panicked and you yearn for change. Perhaps a snap decision will fix everything, but often, it does not. Quitting your job, or breaking up with your boyfriend, or moving to a different city, or going home or taking another degree are the options you are thinking of. But before you do that, here are 7 ways to get back on track (not necessarily the same track you worked on first).
1. Tackle the roots of the problem
Before you go on making any drastic changes, look within and analyze your own feelings. Assess what’s making you feel trapped? Why do you feel panicked? What makes you feel lost?
For example, have you started to hate your job like I did?
- Is it the routine? Or the office politics?
- Is it because you’ve realized it’s not good for you anymore?
- Is it because you don’t feel happy with your job at all?
- Do you want to do something else?
Once you’ve answered these questions, try to see if the problems can be solved at all. In my case, I realized I wasn’t one to spend the whole day in front of a laptop. I was one who wanted to engage with people, communicate, speak and listen. Apart from development, I’ve always wanted to do business, but I was holding it off for a few years. Looks like, I couldn’t. But I did have a parachute, because I’ve been saving up for an emergency fund since I started working, and I have at least 1 year before I live off the streets. So I did quit.
And if you’ve already tried your best, and still couldn’t shake off the problem, then maybe you do have to initiate a change, but do make sure you’ve got a fallback solution. Make sure you’ve saved up enough cash to last you (and if you have a family, your family) until the day you find yourself again.
And if you can’t really quit at all, try the next steps…
2. Practice Gratitude Daily
Too often, we feel unhappy because of us focusing on the things we don’t have.
For example, if you are in a long-term relationship, you might have started to think there are some better partners out there. You see your colleagues stepping up with promotions, homes or cars. You don’t find joy in your day-to-day activities anymore because you feel anxious about all these feelings. STOP.
You need to stop these thoughts and do this simple exercise: When you wake up, or before you go to sleep, enumerate everything you’re thankful for during the day. Here, I’m going to share you my list last night: I was thankful for the delicious meal I cooked during dinner, for the good response that my friend gave me after I honestly confided my thoughts, for the beautiful small home I found and am currently living. Even my boyfriend is something I’m thankful for because he’s someone who makes me happy.
Try to gently push away all negative thoughts, and try to notice and focus on all the little things you’ve probably been taking for granted. It’s going to be difficult because if you are in this crisis, the negative feelings just rise up any minute. Try doing this practice for at least 1 week, then 1 month, and if you’re anxiety still isn’t going away, try the next steps….
3. Go on a vacation
When I felt lost, the only thing running through my mind was an escape: the beach! I wanted to quit everything I was doing at the moment and run off to the beach. If a vacation’s too expensive for you, try finding some alone time to give yourself a break. It’s also the perfect time to make a plan. A realistic plan, after you’ve assessed yourself.
4. Stop comparing yourself to other people
Again, this step can be mitigated by #1: Gratitude. However, comparing can also be one of the roots of your problem. Remember that everyone goes through life on their own timeline, and while some may look like they’ve figured everything out, they haven’t actually figured it out. I never complain in social media, so people may think I’m doing good. But then, everyone goes through problems, and not everything you see in social media is real. Stop comparing your life to other people, and be happy. You may reach your goal when you are 40 or 50 or even 60. Not all millionaires achieved success early in their lives.
Success will come in increments, and if you can’t realize those little achievements, then you won’t be able to handle big ones. It’s the similar case with money: if you can’t properly handle the salary you have now, and you go off wasting it on stuff, then how will you be able to take care of P1M?
I assure you, you will succeed. No one succeeds overnight, know that it’s a long-term commitment. So go have that vacation, make the plan, and focus on the things you can do now for the next 10 or so years that would bring you success.
5. Stop procrastinating
Sometimes, you feel your life isn’t going anywhere, simply because you’re not taking on the wheels! During your free time, assess where you spend your free time with, and make a plan for better ways to maximize it. Your future isn’t dictated by your 9-to-5 job, but with what you do outside it.
For example, if you’ve always wanted to write a book, then eliminate all the distractions at home that’s keeping you from doing it. Try other activities that you think will make a difference in your life, like volunteering or taking on jobs you think you’d love. Try freelancing, or invest your time reading!
Now is the perfect time to make mistakes and do disruptive decisions. Remember that you’re degree or profession doesn’t dictate your path; a stepping stone, maybe. If you’ve always wanted to pursue business or dancing or writing, then now is the perfect time to start on it, because once you start a family, you won’t be as flexible to change anymore. However, it is not necessary to quit on where you are right now.
Go on pursue things that you’ve always wanted to do, and when you do find yourself again, make sure to learn from your mistakes to make sure you never go through the same process again. You can start where you currently are, or you can try to shift your path.
But please remember,
Stop thinking of your life like “I’m not where I’m supposed to be” and more like “I’m where I’m supposed to be right now.” – Life Hacker
I wish you all happiness and success in your endeavors!
- How to Overcome Your Quarter-Life Crisis by Life Hacker
- Young professionals prone to ‘quarter-life crisis’, experts say by ABS CBN News
*Photos are taken from Pexels.