Here's the thing about the quarter-life crisis: It doesn't only hit when you're turning 25.
Dr. Oliver Robinson from the University of Greenwich in London did a study on the topic, and explains to The Guardian that “[quarter-life crises] occur a quarter of your way through adulthood, in the period between 25 and 35, although they cluster around 30.”
In his book Get It Together: A Guide To Surviving Your Quarter-Life Crisis, Damian Barr describes this period in one’s life: “You may be 25 but feel 45. You expected to be having the time of your life but all you do is stress about career prospects, scary debts, and a rocky relationship.”
In light of Evaluate Your Life Day (which happens to be today) here are some questions you could ask yourself to check how you’re doing so far and course-correct, especially if you're feeling the quarter-life crisis looming large.
1. What were your goals for yourself a year ago? How realistic were they?
Fantasizing about things that are unattainable for you in the first place only gets your morale down, says clinical psychologist Eli Somer, Ph.D. of the University of Haifa in Israel.
This isn't to say you shouldn't set your goals high. According to Jared Friedman, a researcher at the Brain, Mind & Consciousness Lab at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, “having a difficult-to-attain but still realistic vision for the future is tremendously important for motivation and psychological well being.” So dream big, but make sure your goals are doable.
2. Which of these have you accomplished so far? How did you achieve them?
3. What held you back from accomplishing your other goals?
“Research shows that people can get a certain satisfaction out of just saying that they are going to do something great, and it reduces their motivation to actually do anything,” says Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D., of Columbia University Business School to MensHealth.com. So keeping your goals to yourself might be more beneficial for you in the future.
4. Who are the people in your life that helped you get to where you are now?
Don’t forget to let them know how grateful you are to them.
Martin Seligman, Ph.D., director of the Penn Positive Psychology Center at University of Pennsylvania and author of the book Authentic Happiness, conducted a study on a number of ways how one could attain an elevated sense of well-being. He found that of the 411 participants, those who chose to write a thank you letter, personally delivered it to the recipient, and stuck around while the other person read their note reported the highest boost in happiness and the most significant drop in symptoms of depression.
Even a month later, these same participants still reported the same warm glow of happiness.
5. What’s the worst thing that can happen to you right now? What about the best thing?
6. What’s your biggest accomplishment to date?
It’s important to recognize how far you’ve come. Take it from basketball player Jimmy Alapag, who first joined the national team in 2002, was sidelined because of an injury, and was given a second shot when he was drafted by Talk 'N' Text in 2003.
"I'd just turned 24 at the time, and I was like, wow, I'm a pro basketball player," he recalls. "This is something I used to go out in the front yard and go shoot and visualize being in that position, and there I was at 24 given a chance to live out that dream."
7. What’s your biggest letdown? How did you cope with it?
Knowing where you failed and the best way to handle it is a weapon you’ll always find handy in the future. Like most entrepreneurs, Dennis Balajadia, co-founder of the Dragon Edge Group (which manufactures Beach Hut suntan spray, among others) has been through a roller coaster of ups and downs with his business. The wisdom he can pass on to aspiring businessmen?
"A big part of it is about the misconception na risk takers ang entrepreneurs," he says. "I think it's a big misconception dahil the more I study it, it's about limiting the risk as much as possible."
8. What are your priorities in life right now?
9. What do you enjoy doing? How often do you get to do these things?
Make more time for moments like these, not only to help you feel good, but also to help you live a longer life.
Life coach and author of Live a Life You Love, Susan Biali, M.D., explains that pursuing something you love “releases chemicals in your brain which are known to boost your immune system, keep your heart healthy, and decrease stress hormones.”
10. What are you good at?
It's an age-old adage. Know your strengths and play to them. Work on your weaknesses and don't let the aspects where you might find yourself lacking faze you. Which brings us to...
11. How much time do you spend on social media?
A 2013 University of Michigan study found that the amount of time you spend using Facebook directly correlates to your feelings of misery. The longer people scrolled through their feeds, the more they end up feeling bad for themselves.
It's probably because Facebook and other social media networking sites make it easier for you to compare your achievements (or lack thereof) to others. And as Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at University of California, Riverside points out, “People who are relatively happy tend not to compare themselves to others.”
So if you find yourself doing just that, distract yourself, Lyubomirsky suggests. Or better yet, just cut back on your social media consumption.
12. Lastly, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of yourself?
More than anything, how you view yourself should be a big consideration in assessing how you’re doing in life. It is after all, your opinion of yourself that truly counts.
This story originally appeared on Menshealth.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by Cosmo.ph editors.