That Quarter-Life Crisis

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We all know that the average number of careers that a person has is seven, and that number is on the up. If we assume a 40 year career, then that means every six years it’s time to shift.

I’m way ahead of that game.

I started out as an IT professional, with a brand new Computer Science degree in hand. After two years, I gave up, unable to find that sweet spot I’d actually shine in. I decided to stay in my sector – investment banking – and shuffled sideways, deciding to qualify as an accountant. Three years later, I had more letters after my name, but not a lot else. The option to move around the firm some more occurred to me, but my heart just wasn’t into it. The office life wasn’t for me.

But I didn’t know what was. And guess what, I wasn’t the only one.

My friends were all experiencing variations of the same theme. One took advantage of the City’s widespread redundancy and ran off to Australia with a fat cheque in hand. Another’s company was heading down the drain so she accepted a pay cut and moved to another firm just to keep the money coming in. Yet another friend had been temping for eternity and felt the need to move on.

They call it a quarter-life crisis, that point in your 20s when you’ve been working for around five years and it really hits you that this is not where you’re meant to be.

It’s an even trickier issue for women, because women and careers is an inherently political topic with enough debate and criticism to make your eyes and ears bleed. Senior women should be sitting on Boards. Mid-level women need to sit at the table. Women need to demand as much money as men. Women need to sponsor more women. Women need to take care of the home. Women need to have superb hair, clothes and make-up at all times.

Let’s not forget the unforgettable, shall we? Women need to have babies. Men can’t, after all.

Women need to have meaning in their lives. Women need to feel fulfilled, recognised, challenged, appreciated. Women prefer meritocracies. Women are more likely to get tired of the politics. Women have to juggle far more than men do, and right now the world is full of talk and no action.

Take a second to think about how you’d like your life to look when you’re an old woman. What will people say about you? Is the life you’re living going to lead to that?

I’m tired of the hive mind telling us what we should or should not be doing. I’m tired of people from a previous generation imposing their ideals and making us feel bad for living like modern people. I’m tired of the judgemental culture in the City that only cares about titles and the hours you work.

It’s time we took action ourselves and did what we want.

For my third job, I decided to follow my passion. I took my long-running blog, Skirts and Ladders, and made a business from it, specifically including coaching services for early career women who were looking for clarity in their lives. I believe that we can do anything we want to. The tricky part is figuring out what that is. If you’re stuck for inspiration, I recommend you dip your toes in the water of anything that strikes your fancy.

As they say, the secret to life is to live it.

Author Bio

Lily Dey is an Author, Coach and Founder of Skirts & Ladders and she’s on a mission to empower women to achieve their personal and professional goals. A Google Global Community Scholar and StartingBloc Fellow, she believes in stripping out the psychobabble and providing women with sensible solutions to move their lives ahead in a fulfilling direction. Read her blog at, join her newsletter to get a free chapter from her latest ebook, hire her as a coach or follow her on Twitter.

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