Can a life crisis be good for you?

73% of Brits feel their life crisis was positive.
Can a life crisis be good for you?
October 2018

Life crises have gained themselves a bad name over the years: often portrayed as a drastic event in someone’s life where they spontaneously splash out on expensive sport cars and have an affair. But are they really so bad or could they actually be good for you?

Pensions advice specialist, Portafina, surveyed Brits* who said either they or their partner had experienced a life crisis, to get an insight into what it entails and what impact it had on them.

Looking at whether their life crisis was as much doom and gloom as popularly perceived, nearly three quarters (73%) said they actually look back on this time of change as a positive event in their life.

Over a quarter (28%) of those polled said their life crisis gave them a new outlook on life and made them focus on the things that matter, helping to refocus their priorities and improve their life in the long-term.

Amongst the positive impacts of their life crisis, 27% believed it made them change some things they weren’t happy with, and almost one in five (19%) said it pushed them to make decisions they may otherwise have avoided but are happy to have committed to now.

But what led people into this change? Each person’s experience of a life crisis was revealed to be unique. Whether it’s due to a change in circumstances (36%), panicking about age (21%), or seeing family/friends live out their dreams (19%), financial freedom (if in a position to do so) to live out personal ambitions was reported to be a fulfilling and rewarding experience.

To examine the types of activities the public think as defining a life crisis versus the reality, Portafina also surveyed the nation**.

The top five behaviours Brits consider as evidence of a life crisis are:

  1. Getting plastic surgery (45%)
  2. Having an affair (42%)
  3. Separating from a long-term partner (34%)
  4. Getting a tattoo (30%)
  5. Changing your hairstyle/colour drastically (29%)

In reality, the top five behaviours as revealed by those who have actually had a life crisis were:

  1. Going on an extravagant holiday (58%)
  2. Buying expensive clothes or accessories (56%)
  3. Buying a new car (50%)
  4. Renovating your house (48%)
  5. Buying an expensive gadget (46%)

It’s clear that the nation’s perception of life crises differs from reality, with drastic behaviour irregular and smaller, less extreme changes more likely.

Life crises have long carried the connotations of being financially irresponsible, however more than half (51%) of those who experienced a life crisis had saved money specifically for it.

A concern for many can be the costs involved with these behaviours and purchases, however the research revealed the financial implication to not be as extreme as the perception. Going on an extravagant holiday came out as the top life crisis behaviour, setting respondents back an average of £4,461. Second was buying expensive clothes or accessories which comes in slightly cheaper at £3,272, followed by buying a new car, one of the more expensive indulgences, costing an average of £9,582 per person.

Commenting on the findings Dr Elena Touroni, Consultant Psychologist and Clinic Director of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic said:

“By default, a life crisis brings about unsettlement through unsettling the way things in your life have previously operated and brings you into contact with great discomfort. Through this, positive changes can take place because while human beings like stability, it forces you to re-evaluate areas of your life which are unhealthy therefore enabling developments to emerge. One can reflect on their historical choices and see that previous coping strategies are unsustainable or no longer work.


“For example, going through a divorce or physical health complication will destabilise regular patterns and allow individuals to really reflect on what is important to them and make different decisions as a result. This is because life crises provide a sense of helping to get you in touch with your true values and goals, as individuals are otherwise too distracted by their everyday lives and patterns that they get used to.”Dr Elena Touroni

Jamie Smith-Thompson, Managing Director of Portafina also added:

“Life crises have long been associated as a negative event in people’s lives, so it’s great to see the reality can be very different, and that a life crisis can help give you a new outlook on life to focus on the things that really matter to you.


“As long as you’re in a stable financial position which factors in the fundamental crossroad points of life, a life crisis can ultimately have a positive impact. Whether the crisis is age-triggered or event-triggered, having the financial security to face those crossroads head on should make things easier to manage and enjoy those changes that you make.”Jamie Smith-Thompson

Featured in:
The Sun
The Daily Mirror
Glamour Magazine

*Survey of 1000 UK adults who said either themselves or their partner had experienced a life crisis carried out by TFL
**Survey of 2000 UK adults carried out by TFL

Press office

Katie Burgess, Portafina PR and Content Executive

Katie Burgess

PR and Content Executive

01634 930 600

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