Cracking the Quarter-Life Crisis


I had never quite understood the term “turbulent twenties” until I was painstakingly trudging through them. I thought college would be the tough part and that it would be nothing but smooth sailing from there on out, reaping the benefits of all of my efforts. Well, after surviving a year in the “real” world, I’m here to tell you how embarrassingly wrong I was.

After months of loathsomely tossing back many gallons of dairy-free ice cream on the couch and crying into any and all surrounding pillows, I accepted that I was having a quarter-life crisis. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing with my life or where I wanted to go next. I felt like I had worked so hard to get to where I was, and for what? I was going through the motions of life, but was somehow still en route to absolutely nowhere.

Career Contessa

As my six-month pity party finally came to an end, I picked myself up and got to work. I joined a few groups and organizations, attended various networking events, and read dozens and dozens of self help books, which focused on topics like career development, fulfillment and passion, and of course, mental health. Among these books, I read one that was particularly beneficial to me, which I am here to share with you today: The Quarter-Life Breakthrough by Adam Smiley Poswolsky.

This book was a game changer for me and I urge all of you struggling twentysomethings to pick it up straight away. Each page contains words of wisdom, inspiration, and hope along with dozens of helpful activities. Below you will find a curated assortment of my favorite quotes from the book, just to give you a tiny taste of what to expect. (All quotes come from Adam, unless otherwise noted.)

  • How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. — Annie Dillard
  • Refuse to settle for mediocrity.
  • Always ignore people who tell you not to pursue your dreams. Almost everything has already been done, but it hasn’t been done by you, and that’s all that matters.
  • You can’t go backward if you’re learning.
  • The long career is dead; any quest for solid rules is pointless, since we will all be constantly rethinking them. You can’t rely on an established business model or a corporate ladder to point your way; silos between industries are breaking down; anything settled is vulnerable. — Robert Safian
  • The journey is the journey — There is no finish line, no top of the ladder. Your career is simply a series of journeys.
  • The first part of any quarter life breakthrough is when a light goes on, alerting you that something in your life isn’t working.
  • You can choose courage or you can choose comfort. You cannot have both. — Brene Brown
  • When you hustle toward meaningful work, the universe conspires to support your efforts.
  • Every experience offers the opportunity to learn what matters to you, and what doesn’t.
  • You just need to be able to inspire one person.
  • Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you too can become great. — Mark Twain
  • There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. — Nelson Mandela
  • Having a breakthrough is about leaving behind something for others. It’s about creating a legacy. Your legacy is how people will remember you beyond your twenties, and after your life.

I’ve come a long way in just 365 days and I owe much of my newfound zest for life to this book. If you’ve ever felt the way I have, know that you’re not alone, and that with some deep digging and hustle, you’ll get exactly where you’re meant to go. I’ll conclude with just one more quote, in case the others weren’t enough (it’s my all-time favorite):


Starting a new side hustle? Avoid these four productivity pitfalls.


Both a blessing and a curse, I’ve never been able to relax. I’ve always hated naps, even as an infant and growing child, and I’d always joke that “sleep is for the weak.” It’s funny, because you often hear so many people say, “There are just not enough hours in the day!” I can tell you that simply isn’t true. We have plenty of time, we just don’t (usually) use it wisely.


LA Times


When I started as a freshman in college, I was overwhelmed and anxious with the number of tasks I had to complete on a daily basis. There was way too much on my plate. Truthfully though, there wasn’t, and I later realized I could stand to do even more – if that’s what I wanted. Now before I go on, let me make something clear: You do not need to catch every ball! I stay active and busy with the things I love. I don’t fill my time with unnecessary requests and hindrances. Be sure to keep this distinction clear if you’re planning to start a few new projects or add a bit to your typical workload.

I technically work both 9 – 5 and 5 – 9. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later, the timetable fluctuates. I work your standard full-time job during the day, and come home to four ongoing side hustles, which I work on at my leisure. It sounds insane, but I absolutely love it. I do this because I hope to one day soon become an entrepreneur, my very own boss, and I don’t think you can ever have enough experience when trying to build a business. I know there are a lot of you in a similar space who struggle to get started, whether it’s because of fear, intimidation, lack of creativity, or anything else. I’m here to help you out and share the tips that have helped me in recent months. Like Shia LaBeouf always says, “Don’t let your dreams be dreams. Just do it!”

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Lack of Discipline

This is a hard skill to develop, but a vital one. You are in charge of your own life and you have a series of decisions to make throughout the day. In order to get shit done, you’ll need to follow a semi-strict schedule. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, but don’t aimlessly sit on your phone or spend every night at the bar. You need to find the time to work on what’s important. I dedicate a few hours every night to get ahead on my projects. If during the week I feel I’m in a good place, I won’t feel guilty taking a night or two off. If you find yourself struggling to complete tasks, start small.


Don’t make excuses. No one wants to hear the half-baked, poorly executed justifications for why you’re behind on something. It’s important to take ownership and do what you say you will. Can’t is the real C word and if you insist on limiting yourself and falling to excuses, you’ll never expand or grow. Push yourself to reach your goals, even if it means moving some other things around. Being malleable is a requirement.


Burnout will leave you feeling drained and frustrated, so don’t overdo it. I designate a set time every night to shut down and disconnect. Some nights are easier to do this than others, but I still make sure there’s time for me. Work isn’t everything, and if you’re digging yourself into a  sad, exhausting hole, then your projects aren’t worth all the effort anyway. Be kind to yourself and accept when you need to take a break. Give yourself a personal day if you need it.




Fear is almost always the dominant factor in whether or not a person starts a major project. It’s so easy to say “I’m not good enough” or “I’m too inexperienced.” Failure is a common and necessary fact of life and I actually encourage it. That doesn’t mean I don’t try to soften the blow where possible, but failure results in invaluable lessons learned and a better understanding of where to go next. I’m 22 years old and working to get my own business of the ground in the next few years. People tell me I’m probably too young for that, but I won’t know unless I try. If anything is worse than failure, it’s regret. So why not give it a go?

I encourage you all to think about these four productivity pitfalls when you’re feeling overwhelmed with life or like you’re doing things all wrong. Taking up a few new projects, big and small, is completely possible.