Did you ever tell your friends that you’d have everything you wanted by the age of 30? Well, now you’re 35 and your life is not that much more organized than when you were 25. If that describes you, you aren’t the only one.
“Life happens, things change, and all that matters is that you’re happy where you’re headed.”
For most people, myself included, our 30s included a lot of change, stress, and ambiguity. Now that you’re 35, have things worked out just as you would have liked so far? Did you ever climb Mt. Everest? Did you find that perfect life partner? Did you start that business that would change the world? Well, guess what, with the right choices, you still have plenty of time! Shaping your life to have the experiences you want is completely possible.
I turned 60 last month. I made it through my 30s, 40s, and 50s in one piece. Even as a life coach, I don’t consider myself an expert on life, but as I reflect on the past, I’m amazed at how much I learned in my 30s. Here are several of the lessons you may learn as you continue through your 30s.
Your friends are going to change a lot in your 30s and so do you. As people select life partners, have kids, buy a house, or move to a better job, priorities change for both you and your friends. Of the friends you had, the good ones will stay with, you while the ones of convenience will be replaced by new friends that will likely last your lifetime.
Big Decisions Curves
You are going to discover, if you haven’t already, that you won’t want to keep putting off those big decisions. In my 30s, I moved four times, started a business, had two children, and bought two houses. They all required big decisions that I had been successfully able to avoid in my 20s. What you learn is that no matter how old you get, decisions can be hard but with each choice, you make life changes that result in life improvement.
You’ll Learn About Heartache
And then there’s your heart. Death, divorce, pregnancy and its issues situations that most folks in their 30s face. Your life really isn’t ever a nice straight line. There are ups and downs, rights and lefts that can only really be appreciated after the fact; it’s all just life. Those lows, as crushing as they might be from time to time, are the very mirror you can use to appreciate the highs. Cherish them, too. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and remember: Make a choice for what you want, not just to avoid pain.
The Important Things
Your priorities are starting to change. It’s a fact of growth and experience. Things that were important to you 10 years ago are starting to seem less important. That car, that gadget, whatever; it all seems less important as you gain some perspective. Now is the time to review your priorities decide if they need some refinement. Whether it’s your work, travel, or work-life balance, it’s time to make the change. Whether it’s an increase in pay, or a problem boss at work, once you reach your mid-30s, you learn to speak up when it matters. Age and experience bring confidence, so don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Who knows, with practice you might start getting what you want!
The Subtle Art of Compromise
You are already aware that life is full of change. The goal is to make the changes good for you, and that is where compromise can help. Do you take a pay cut to move to the city of your dreams? Does the person you love have to make big changes to move with you? What will you give? It’s extremely important to know when not to compromise and there are times when no compromise is possible. When you find yourself in that situation, make the right choice for the life you desire, even if it upsets things for a while. You only get one chance at this life so live it the best you can.
Temples and Tents
You may not be ready to treat your body like a temple, but try not to treat it like a tent either. All that stuff you could do in your 20s, like drinking until dawn, sugar, and all the starch you consumed, you could manage takes its toll. You got away with it in your 20s, but in your 30s it starts to show. When you see those wrinkles and that grey hair it can be a big shock. If you take care of your body, you can effectively slow the outward signs of the process and avoid that expensive plastic surgeon. Your health is one of those things you can’t necessarily change after the fact.
Your Future and Investing In It
Life can be painfully short. Now that you’re 35 do you have the sensation that time is rushing past is getting stronger and you may worry that you are missing out. The songs that promote “living for today” were usually written by people in their 20s. Now that you are in your 30s, you realize that even though you have many years left to enjoy, you need to plan for the future. Finances, health, your relationship; you need to develop the best habits to live the life you want.
Don’t Make ‘Regret’ Your Friend
How did it go, becoming a millionaire by the time you were 32? Did you travel the world, or make it to Mt. Everest? Goals you considered critical when you were in your 20s may seem less important or less achievable by the time you are in your mid-30s. Well, don’t pout, go out and get some NEW dreams! You don’t have time for regret. Make some new dreams chosen with the wisdom and experience you have gained to this point. You may even find those dreams more rewarding than the old ones you discarded.
Kids, a Lifetime of Learning
Say hello to what may be the best job of your life. Regardless of your feelings at this moment, it may seem to you that everyone you know is talking about, or having children. At your age, there is no escape from the conversation. If you have absolutely no interest in kids, all talk of colors, smocks, and diapers can be irritating. Yet, as your friends begin to settle down into their new lifestyles, it gives you pause for thought. You will have an opportunity to decide just how you, or you and your partner, feel about children and family.
When you realize you can’t put it off forever, a different mindset emerges. Don’t be afraid to have it. There is another thing too; having kids of your own often brings you closer to your parents. Your friendships are going to change, and it can be really nice to have the stability of extended family in your life.
You Mature and Socialize Differently
Maybe you’re beautiful or handsome now that you’re 35, but you aren’t 18 any longer. You will find yourself less willing to dress like you are. Your maturity and experience are not things you will be able to hide, and why would you want to? Take the opportunity to develop your own look and way of socializing. When you were in your 20s, you likely attended the best clubs, and went to all night parties when you had the chance. Are you finding that your tastes are changing? Would you prefer to go for dinner with friends then out for coffee or a drink, rather than to that rave you heard about? Being in your 30s gives you the freedom to do what you really want and the experience to make a good choice.
The 20s were hard for many of us, and with social media, it’s almost impossible not to compare yourself with others. You will find that as your 30s progress, your self-confidence will grow. As you learn to care less about what others think, you will learn to like yourself a lot more.
Don’t Sweat It; It’s All Small Stuff
It can be terribly painful to realize how much time you wasted overthinking and worrying about things in your 20s. Try and remember what worrying about everything, your clothes, your hair, are you a dork or not, will you stay out all night on Friday. Do you realize that as you progress through your 30s those concerns will become less and less important? Those are all little things. When you master that thought, you will find your schedule opens up for all the important things you never even noticed.
Money Only Matters When It’s Gone
Now that you’re 35, you are beginning to notice the value of money. Hopefully, you met a financial advisor in your 20s who taught you the value of compounded interest. It’s unlikely without some guidance that you have done everything right, but you will improve. Regardless of your interests, be they family, investments, or your business, you will need to focus on those money matters and planning for your financial future. In the end, there is no one to save you, so to be financially secure you have to make it happen for yourself.
Congratulations, you are now controlling your life and making good choices for your life and your family. Moving forward, now that you’re 35 try to not lament the loss of the life you had in your 20s. Like lots of things in your past, it was fun but it’s gone now. You have so much more life ahead of you and it can be richer than you can possibly imagine from where you stand today. And one more thing, when you were younger you probably grew away from your parents. Your desire to embrace your newfound freedom was your focus. Remember that they are still back there, living their lives, learning each day as they go, and already aware of something that you are learning one day at a time: The importance of family.
Frank Hopkins is a certified Professional Coach (CPC) by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). He is a certified Master Practitioner (ELI-MP) of the iPEC proprietary assessment tool, the Energy Leadership Index and offers seminars on Energy Leadership. He maintains memberships in the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and the Institute of Coaching (ICPA).