Post quarter-life crisis: discovering new priorities

By 13th December 2017Commitment
Tying lace on trainer

Louise puts her passion for running on a par with her career.

This is the third and final post in a three-part series about quarter life crisis by writer and mental health advocate Louise Jones. For Rose & Butterfly, this is an experiment in writing about personal development while being coached. In this last post, Louise describes the process of discovering her priorities and finding a more fulfilling focus in her life.   

When I wrote my first CV at aged 17, I had little to write. I had my GCSEs and a work experience placement in a school, but that was it, bar the little section right at the end on hobbies and interests.

“I like going to the theatre and seeing comedy shows. I’m also a huge reader.” I’m sure that was the gist of it. That bit didn’t matter. It was kind of embarrassing to write, I felt like a 5 year-old. I like this, I like doing that. It wasn’t important. What was the point?

“Yes, I want to earn money and be successful in my career, but I also want to run. I want to write for myself. I want to travel. I want to be a good friend and family member.”

When I graduated and went back to my CV, I had more to write. I had A-levels and a degree. I’d had more work experience placements, a part-time job in Waitrose to proudly display, and a few freelance gigs to shove in. The little section right at the end stayed relatively the same, although I perhaps showed off my English degree by rewording it to: “With a passion for the arts and culture, I frequent the theatre regularly, indulge in the comedy sector, and am an avid reader.” It still wasn’t important.

It wasn’t until I started running for my mental health, completed the Couch to 5k course, entered a 10k race, a half marathon, and then crossed the finish line of this year’s London Marathon that I thought, “Oh… this has significantly affected my life. Can I… put this on my CV?”

We underestimate the value of our passions, hobbies, and interests. But why? Because we were told to put them at the bottom of our CV? Because doing after school clubs were seen as nerdy or weird? Because only actions that will positively affect our career choices or have monetary value are worth doing?

I mean, it’s understandable. We’re living in a world where the cost of living is rising but our salaries aren’t rising with it. We need to earn money. ‘Money can’t buy happiness’, no, but it can pay the rent and bills. But exhaustively pursuing money and careers as motives can burn us out. It can narrow our opportunities and experiences down. It can negatively affect our mental health. We can forget our passions, our traits, our basic wants and needs. And we’re only human, so those needs are important.

Life is too short. We hear that phrase a lot. But I don’t think we really know what it means unless we experience it. Until you’ve experienced grief, loss, or a significant, sudden, and unexpected life change. When I experienced a close bereavement last year, for the first time, I dealt with it in a very positive way. I very quickly realised that yes, life is too short, so I’m going to pursue happiness and balance. Yes, I want to earn money and be successful in my career, but I also want to run. I want to write for myself. I want to travel. I want to be a good friend and family member. I want to volunteer lots. I want to experience things and develop myself without any value placed, monetary or otherwise. I want to take things as they are. Running makes me feel good. Travel is fun and expansive. Writing is calming. Not everything has to earn me money or contribute to my professional success. Having this mindset and perspective is success enough.

There is no blanket advice for shifting your perspectives. Our lives are unique, beautifully or painfully so. Some of us are incredibly privileged so shifting a focus can be easier than for someone who isn’t privileged. We have our different struggles and barriers. We have our different strengths and passions. But I don’t think we exist to work to the bone. I don’t think we exist to have a single career, to have many careers, or a career at all. I don’t think we exist to continually prove ourselves or be consistently successful. We’re just here, for a short amount of time. Allow yourself to enjoy the little things and find importance in your hobbies and interests. Practise self-care daily and treat yourself as you would a best friend. Take opportunities, have experiences, but also say ‘no’ if you need or want to.

Oh, and drink more water.

I’ve achieved a lot in 24 years, and I’ve experienced the negatives, positives, and neutral aspects of that. I experienced a lot of perceived pressures and expectations, and imagined life to be expected and linear. Now, I’ve shifted my perspectives and focuses. I treat myself kindly. Who knows what the future holds, but I define my own success and happiness. I’m doing just fine.

Tips from Rose & Butterfly

Rose and Butterfly Coach, HelenHelen says: “Notice that when Louise realised that her career wasn’t the be-all and end-all, she gave her hobbies and passions as much attention as someone would give to an important work project. She upped the stakes in the ‘winnings’ of her personal experiences ‘windfall’ by playing full out in the ‘game of life’. Signing up to run a marathon is not playing it safe, and making a public declaration in writing about your best hopes for what you want in life is not playing it safe. Note also how practising self-care has been an enabler for going a distance she never dreamt she was capable of.

If you’d like to become more confident in pursuing your hobbies and passions with gusto, as well as being better at balancing achievements with joy, then you may find the following helpful:


You can find Louise on Twitter at @louisejonesetc and on her blog, Biscuits & Blisters

Need to catch up with the rest of the series?

Part One: The curse of the overachiever

Part Two: Facing quarter life crisis 

Helen Williams

Author Helen Williams

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