Change can be difficult, and there are few changes quite as daunting as quitting your job — especially in your mid-20s, when stability isn’t exactly easy to come by. After all, there’s no shortage of harrowing statistics reminding us of how nearly impossible it is to land a job in today’s extremely competitive market. But when you think about it, your mid-20s isn’t exactly the worst time to take a risk like quitting your job — whether you’re hoping to move into a different industry, pursue a passion, acquire a new professional skill, or even just travel the world, this may be the time to do it. In fact, your mid-twenties might just be the perfect in-between time to make this type of change.
Full disclosure: I have some personal experience with this version of a quarter-life crisis. Just a few weeks ago, I quit my steady, well-paying, full-time job in San Francisco to move to LA and pursue freelance writing and screenwriting. While some may think this type of decision is irresponsible and risky (OK, maybe even flat-out stupid), it has turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Not convinced? Here’s why I think your mid-20s is the perfect time to take a risk by quitting your job:
1. Your long-term fulfillment and satisfaction should be your priorities now.
Although I loved the company I worked for and the people I worked with, I ultimately knew that the job was not something I saw myself doing long-term. I knew, and therefore my co-workers knew, that my heart was in the articles and screenplays I was spending every free moment working on — my lunch break, the bus ride home from work, and hours after work on my couch. What I was excited about was not what I was spending 40 hours a week doing, and that wasn’t something I wanted for my future.
2. Someone else wants that position.
While my full-time position was not where I saw myself in 10 years, I knew that it was where plenty of my co-workers hoped to be. The job I was doing was highly coveted — I had a wonderful, progressive team that had high visibility at the company — and I was taking up a spot that someone more passionate about the work could have had instead.
3. You have time to reconsider what you really want to do.
Graduating college is pretty intimidating — especially today, with a job market so extremely competitive and difficult to navigate. With high unemployment rates and a bleak job-hunting landscape for graduates, it’s easy to take the first job that comes your way, even if it's not what you're passionate about. We take the jobs we can get and then, a couple years after the excitement of corporate America (free snacks! free coffee! more free snacks!) wears off, we realize: this is not what I want to do. Having a quarter-life crisis allows you the opportunity to reevaluate your career priorities before you start truly feeling trapped into a company or an industry for the long haul.
4. You don't have obligations. Yet.
Unlike a midlife crisis, when people often have families, partners, and mortgages, people around the quarter-life mark (most likely) have few responsibilities beyond to ourselves. While quitting your job at age 50 can have repercussions for your entire family, quitting your job at age 25 likely has very little repercussions beyond yourself. There's no better time to be selfish than when you literally only need to worry about your own life.
5. You don't want to become an unhappy adult.
When you love what you do, it shows. Remember that old saying your parents stuffed down your throat as a kid, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life?” Not only is this true, but it extends to the quality of your work — if you love what you do, you’re going to be better at what you do.
6. You’ve had a few years to get on your feet.
Had I jumped into freelancing right out of college, I would have been a stressed-out, anxious, mess. In a time of massive transitions, it’s hard to have the foresight (and the mental stability) to jump right into something you’re passionate about — especially if, like me, that is something creative and non-traditional. If you give yourself a few years to get settled into adulthood, you’re also giving yourself a few years to save money and figure out what you want your next step to be.
7. You'll inspire your friends and co-workers.
When I told my friends and co-workers about the move I was making, I was prepared for some serious eye rolls — and maybe even some more outright distaste. I expected people to think I was naive, unrealistic, and, perhaps worst of all, that I’d be begging for my job back within a couple of months. Though there was some of this, the overwhelming response was one that surprised me: people thought I was brave. I had peers tell me how much they wished they had the guts to make a jump to a less-secure career path, and I had top executives at the company laud me for taking such a risk.
8. Now's the time to take a risk, instead of wondering "What if..."
Depending on what your quarter-life crisis looks like, the risk factor will vary — but, in my opinion, anything that constitutes a major life change will always have some sort of unknown attached to it. Yes, trading a reliable, 9-5 job for one that has literally no schedule is a risk. But it’s a risk that I’m taking on myself; you’re not betting on a Roulette table or on another employee, you’re betting on something ultimately within your control.