What is it with smart, ambitious, educated young women thinking we can change the world?  Pssh. That is the mindset that we all have at some point when we are just trying to figure out how to make the ‘perfect’ life for ourselves.

In our twenties, we graduate from college with huge ideals and glorious plans to find success in our jobs, create a home we’re proud of, build a family and make a meaningful contribution to society.  We are taught that nothing should hold us back from pursuing our dreams.  We CAN do it all and we BELIEVE we will. It really is the only way to figure out what you really want.

But what if what you thought you wanted changes? Did you fail? Is this okay to want to conquer the world another way?

Then Next Factor of Our Life….

Then comes the quarter-life crisis when, starting in our mid-late twenties, you find yourself in a decade of wondering if the work you ended up doing was really what you wanted to do when you left college thinking you were going to change the world.

Some of us don’t feel successful in our work but instead feel like a glorified secretary whose most in-demand skills are fixing printer jams and doing the dishes in the office.

Maybe it is not just the work, maybe the perfect picture of the house with the green shutters, the white picket fence and the husband and kids didn’t materialize. Maybe you haven’t found YOUR PERSON yet.  Or maybe you found someone you thought was your person early in life and then became the first person in your friend group to be divorced.

Maybe the plans you had put you in debt up to your eyeballs because when you went to grad school you didn’t consider the fact that you would end up paying student loan payments that are more than your house payment each month and failed to budget for the new transmission your 10-year old car needed the day before it was paid off.

Or you realize that owning your own business and managing a staff, insurance, taxes and health insurance, and consistently having to deliver bad news your clients and fight unproductive battles with your adversaries, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Or you find yourself far down a long and winding road that you didn’t actually intend to go down at all, because the path that you followed wasn’t actually the dream you had for yourself, instead it was a dream someone else had for you. You just thought this was how it was supposed to be, that this is what you wanted. You lived through all the bad moments because you thought it would get better or that you just couldn’t dig yourself out.

You never realized it would be this hard, this depressing; and you certainly didn’t expect to feel like no matter how hard you worked, it was never good enough, and that you would never feel good enough.

Any of this ring a bell?

So ladies, have any of these moments derailed your expectations?  Have you ever felt like this? Maybe it is even in your twenties you are feeling like this…

What next then?

The next life crisis might come around in our mid-thirties….this one seems to shed more light on what you needed, because it feels like a clearing in the woods. You look up above and see the sun for the first time in a while.  You realize you have a lot to give to the world still, despite feeling pretty damn burned out.  And although you have felt as though you have been under-achieving for the last ten years, nothing is holding you back now from changing course, doing more.

Suddenly you know what abstract concepts motivate you more than money and make you want to jump out of bed in the morning.

You spontaneously discover meaningful connections with new professional peers, finally unafraid to let go of the ties holding you back to the old ones.

You seek out work that highlights your strengths, instead of obsessing over and fighting your weaknesses.  You stop fixing the paper jams and unapologetically take longer lunches or early coffees and the glasses of wine after work to meet with people who are pursuing things that align with your personal mission/vision for life.

These new thoughts inspire and fulfill you, even if the hours aren’t billable or “productive.”

And you realize that the cliché is true:

“It’s not the Destination that matters – It is the Journey.  It’s not about Being – It is about Becoming.”  

Maybe in your mid-40’s you will start to feel like you totally have you shit together. Maybe the ups and downs are what make you see what you want. If you are reading this and haven’t hit the quarter life crisis but already see that you need to make a path change, do it. Maybe you haven’t hit the third-life crisis to realize what the next step should be.  But whatever age you are, make the change.

But until then, let’s take all the Pinterest advice, finding peace in the moment and trusting in the process, with a few coffee and wines dates and push through it! Want to join me? Because I will surely be the first to tell you, this is what continues to help me follow my dreams and make my thirty-some-year old self happy I didn’t give up.