I really, really wanted to get this post out on/before my 30th birthday on March 10th. But then I got busy with the trip, and the course…and I didn't. When things cleared up I thought about writing it, but instead, I kept putting it off.
I think I put it off because I wanted to be really eloquent and say something important about all the things I've learned in the last 30 years, but couldn't find the right words. Usually, when I want to write something, I sit down and the words just come. When they don't, I usually wait around a bit until they do…but this time, I never felt quite motivated enough to make this piece happen.
Maybe I felt a simple blog post wouldn't really do all of it justice. Or maybe I'd come across looking trite or….something.
That's a lot of f*cking pressure for a blog post, so I decided to just sit down and write it.
After all, “done” is always better than “perfect”, right?
But most of all, even through all the edits and content audits and shake-ups and rebrands, this website is still a digital “scrapbook” of my life (of sorts) and most of all, I didn't want such a momentous birthday to pass without a few (hundred) words on the subject.
So, I began by making a list. Originally, I wanted this post to be “30 Things I Learned By Age 30” but when I made the list, I found that lots of things I learned fell into some pretty similar buckets, which is what I want to talk about today. These don't have anything, specifically, to do with finance. But since I believe that our personal lives are so closely linked with our money mindset, I do believe you can apply any of what I've written below to your financial (best) life.
# 1 – You are in control of your own story.
Before I went full time with the blog, I worked in marketing. What I love MOST about marketing is that you get to tell the story you want to tell. You downplay the bad parts (which every person, product, company, and story has…) and shout your wins from the mountaintops so that overall the perception is positive. Curating a story? That's marketing.
There's a negative side to this, obviously, like when we look at social media and feel badly about ourselves and our own successes because everyone else's looks so much better….
But you can also apply this “curating the story” aspect to your own life. Not saying to make it look like you're more successful/thin/happier than you are on social, but I'm talking about curating your own personal narrative in terms of making yourself feel better about what you're doing.
Remember that the negative parts, the bad things you did or that happened to you or that you experienced… don't have to be the big picture story. The sum total is still very good. You're a good person. The bad things – they're not you, they're just a part of you. I was incredibly negative in my early twenties and super sassy when I started writing this blog. Realizing that I had the power to think positively and create positive things in my life was huge and it's made my life significantly better.
If you want to see big things happen in your life, adopt a positivity mantra and say it to yourself every day.
#2 – In all things, consistency is easily the most important part.
Looking back on the handful of things I've accomplished in my 20s that I'm proudest of (being my own boss, and buying a home mostly), I realize that I never would've achieved any of them if I hadn't dug my feet in and been consistent in my approach. I wrote about the power of consistency and tenacity in this post.
You don't just start blogging and overnight make thousands of dollars. You can't just quit your job without building a small side business first. You have to set a goal and work consistently toward achieving it. (I have a goal setting tutorial and worksheets here, btw.)
Even when it got hard. Even when I wanted to give up. Even if I didn't do my best – I did something. And at least I was consistent in that.
I'm experiencing this all over again as my boyfriend and I attempt to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. It doesn't super matter if I made the earth move at the gym that day or that I ate “perfectly” in the last 24 hours. What really matters is that I'm consistent enough in my efforts to move the needle over time. This is the only way anything substantial gets done, and most importantly – lasts.
#3 – Very few people are really rooting for you to succeed.
Sure, if you've been blogging long enough, you'll meet an internet troll or two. But in my offline life, it's been the most heartbreaking lesson of my 20's to see how few people actually want those around them to succeed. And I'm not just talking about “Oh, of
And I'm not just talking about “Oh, of course I want so-and-so to be happy” successful. Hopefully, everyone in your life wants you to be happy. But I'm talking grand-slam-homerun-million-dollar successful. Very few people will be rooting for you to do this.
It's subtle. There won't be any blow-out confrontations, but watch carefully as you approach 30 (if you're not already there). You'll begin to notice your circle of friends shrink, and this isn't a bad thing. It just means those that are true friends are the ones that stick and thats where your time and attention needs to go.
#4 – You will never get anywhere if you don't produce.
The 90's kid version of this is “You won't get anywhere if you don't try,” but in the digital age, you won't get anywhere if you don't produce something. This is similar to the consistency bit above, but different because I think so many people discount the value in simply putting their creations out there.
This is assuming you want a career as a creative, but it also works for more action-based goals as well. You're not going to get anywhere with your bank account….if you don't produce the money. You're not going to get anywhere in your career…unless you produce great work. See where I'm going?
#5 – The idea of “balance” is an illusion.
Work- life balance. Having a career you love and a social life. Balancing the demands of a family with the person you used to be and all the ongoing commitments (like work and being a good partner.) Even though I haven't had to deal with the third one personally, I know we're all in search of this elusive thing called “balance.”
At various points throughout my 20s, I was very caught up in “having it all.” The thing no one likes to talk about is that you can't really have it all. You have to choose. You have to make tough choices, most of the time between two awesome things and deciding which you can live without the most.
But I believe the beauty of life is in that struggle for balance – some days you get it right and it feels amazing, and others you don't. But you get up the next day and try again in search of it because otherwise – we'd just live in chaos.
#6 – You Stop Learning, You Stop Growing
I'm not going to lie, the idea of turning 30 bummed me out for a few weeks. Getting older and growing up is weird, and I'm still adjusting. The silver lining? What they say about your 30's is true – a lot of the angst of your twenties: the self-doubt, the anxiety about the future and the desire to people-please does go away. Truly. I don't think 30 is a magical number but as you begin to approach a few things just unlock and you begin to just feel better about yourself and what you're doing. Or at least, better about the things that used to bum you out in your 20s. Maybe your 30s comes with a whole new set of problems.
…But what I especially noticed when I sat down to write this article is that a lot of what I've learned happened in the last five years. I've learned so much from “growing up” and starting a business and making all of these really huge mistakes. My early twenties felt so transformative, but really, I was experiencing a lot and learning very little. “Education” only happens when we can take experiences, apply a little objectivity to glean the lessons, and then use those lessons to make better (or different) choices.
This whole process is hard to do in real-time, which is why I think people are SO DUMB in their early 20s.
After lots of journaling and subsequent “I'm getting old AF” panic attacks, I realized when we landed in Mexico for my 30th birthday weekend (a place I'd never been) that 30 isn't the end point of anything. It's just the beginning, especially if you commit to attempting new experiences and continuing to learn.