So, I fibbed a little. I said I was going to have the final installment of “30 Things Professionals Should Know by 30″ up by Saturday, but birthday/weekend me took over and I am just now getting it posted. I think there’s always a bit of pressure with the last ten (or five, or whatever) of anything because they’re viewed as these are the ULTIMATE things you should know!!!!! Well, I’m here to say that my 30 by 30 list doesn’t exactly go in a particular order–some people may be more inspired, or more connected with, number 26, or number 8. So, don’t think of these as the absolute last word in 30 things you should know–I’m sure some of you knew this stuff at 22 and others of us might not get there till 65. These are simply lessons I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way!) and lessons other people have shared with me. I hope you enjoy them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.
10. Know that there is NO magic number.
Like most people, I thought of 30 as pretty grown up (read: old) when I was a kid. After all, my mom was 30 when I was like 12 and she seemed pretty darn grown up to me. I’ve since learned, however, that there is no magic number or event or epiphany that suddenly turns one from a normal (sometimes immature, not always right) human being into a GROWN UP. I’m still afraid of scary movies sometimes and I never turn down playing at the park with my nephews and nieces–things my ten year old self didn’t think grown up 30 year olds would do. We all seem to grow up and mature at our own speed (and some of us never do!) so it’s a little naive to think that a graduation, a job, a baby, an age, or anything else will make us a grown up overnight. It’s a process and we have to be okay with that.
9. Don’t compare yourself to others.
In the same vein, don’t compare your journey to someone else’s. Maybe in your mind, someone your age should have a house, a career, a child, a sports car, or a stamped up passport. So? I guarantee you, everyone your age does not have any of these things–and some of them don’t even want these things. In our current Facebook/Twitter/Instagram inundated world, it can be difficult to not compare ourselves to our 400 or so “friends” who seem to constantly be on trips or getting promotions. I started college at 22 and didn’t finish my Masters until I was 28. I graduated and began my job search with classmates who were 23 and it was a little daunting at times. But I know that I learned so much during my twenties–through mistakes, second chances, taking risks–and I wouldn’t trade those things for a Masters at 23.
8. Know what you’re working towards.
We work so hard to find a job and make money, and often, we have this sort of vague idea of what we want to accomplish by having a steady income. But on days when you’re feeling a little burned out or annoyed by some work policy, it will be important to remember exactly what you’re working towards. Maybe for you, it’s a house to live in with your partner, a baby by 32, or early retirement so you can travel the world. Knowing what you want outside of the office can make the world of work much more enjoyable.
7. Figure out your priorities.
It’s funny–at twenty, it can be easy to blow off class or be distracted during a test because you’re thinking about a crush, a breakup, or a great first date. At 30, it can be just as easy to come home to your partner late everyday for a week because you’re so engrossed in work. Life will always be about balancing your needs and goals with the needs and goals of those around you–especially those you care about. The ending of a three month relationship at 21 can seem devastating, but man, there are more important things–like that math test.
6. Figure out why you work.
For money. That’s the most obvious answer, right? Personally, I understood at an early age that getting an education and a job I cared about would mean freedom for me. Freedom to do the things I enjoy. Freedom to make decisions based on my happiness and not because I’m struggling financially. Free to be with someone, not because I’m dependent upon them financially but because I love them.
Why do you work?
5. Learn where to get the help you need.
Whether it’s financial, career, or relationship counseling, find resources and use them. Figure out which supermarket offers the best value for your money. Figure out which mentor to go to with an issue. Figure out an alternate route to and from work in case a random tornado comes (hey, it happens–trust me).
4. Don’t be afraid to learn new things.
Last year, I knew very little about social media marketing or website design. But I really wanted to start this blog–so I figured it out. I’m not super technical, but I know that I have to be willing to learn new things to continue growing.
3. Learn the art of patience.
There were times in my twenties when I felt like college would never end. Working for minimum wage would never end. Bad dates would never, EVER end. But, you know, they did. They ended sooner than I thought and taught me more than I’d planned. So be thankful for the times that feel like they’re never ending-maybe they’re leading to something else entirely.
2. Don’t feel guilty for your success.
It can be hard to feel happy or proud of our accomplishments when other people we know are hurting or in a bad place. But remember, you earned this. You worked hard, you set goals, you figured out your priorities, and you were patient. Everyone has moments of greatness–celebrate yours.
1. Know that this list might just be a bunch of crap.
Steve Jobs once said something along the lines of, “This thing we call life–these rules and ways of being that we think we have to adhere to–were made up by human beings just like us. So don’t live someone else’s idea of life–go live your own.”
These were my lessons and I am happy to have shared them. Now, stop reading my little list and go live your life. :)