Turning 30 always seemed like a significant event for me. I always imagined how life would be at 30, how I would have everything figured out and how I would be settled down - basically, in my mind it would mark when the stressful 20s would be over! This past year I turned 30 and it came sooner than I thought. I didn't have everything figured out and definitely had not settled down. (and I just turned 31 this month)
So I thought I would share some of my thoughts on turning 30 and reflect on my 20's or what I would tell my twenty-something-year-old-self. There are quite a few lessons I have learned in my 20's that I would like to continue to work on and take into my 30s.
So here are my Life Lessons for my 30s:
1. Learn to live a balanced life.
I spent way too much time on my academic life. This meant working hard and for long hours at the expense of my health and social life. School consumed most of my time. In my 20's I completed two BA's and 1 Masters degree, meaning I had little time for anything else. As I move into my 30's it is key for me to balance things more and learn to give all aspects of my life time to develop including my social side, career, health, hobbies and down-time. In fact, this whole blog post can be viewed as what I learned I should do in my 30s in order to live a balanced life.
2. It's not necessarily about how hard you work, it's about working smart
I have always been a goal driven person. I have also been a really hard working person. I would set a goal and work really hard to achieve it. What I have learned is that it's not just about working hard, because working hard does not mean that you will accomplish your goals (unfortunately). It's about your social network, about being at the right place at the right time or even knowing the right person. So you need to work hard but more importantly work smarter!
Its also about being smart with your time. You can do this by having to do lists - but that doesn't mean that you have to do everything on the list that day - organize your time in such a way that you are productive and not just busy. Because there is nothing more stressful that not being able to cross off majority of whats on your list. Working smart means being flexible and adaptable not only strict and disciplined!
3. Your health is VERY important, in fact its the most important!
I know this seems like a given, but, throughout my 20s my health took a backseat to my ambition of being a "successful" person. I had many health problems, some which led to hospital visits and surgeries, but these still didn't serve as a wake up call. It wasn't until I was in the middle of doing my Masters - that too overseas in England- when I had a major physical and mental breakdown that landed me in the ER that I realized something was wrong with the way I had been doing things. This was just the beginning of my real wake up call. Basically my body was saying I can't be pushed any more, and honestly, if you are not healthy you can only push yourself to a certain extent, which, ultimately means you won't be able to achieve whatever your goals are. So slowly, but surely, I have started to concentrate on my health - eating healthier, sleeping at regular times, doing more physical exercise and listening to my body.
4. Pick up hobbies
In my drive to achieve success in my career trajectory, I didn't make time for anything else. This meant that my hobbies were neglected. I love photography, yoga, crafts, reading, and creative writing. But I wasn't doing any of these other things. This meant that I was leading an extreme life dedicated to one thing in my life and being extreme in any way is never a good idea. The quality of your life increases the more you do and learn, the more you push yourself and test your own limits and find out your own strengths and weaknesses. What better way than through hobbies? If I had not tried snowboarding I would not have ever know that I am not made for board sports or if I had not tried calligraphy I would have never known that it not only calms me but I am actually somewhat alright at it! These are all outlets that are important for your mental wellbeing and for your soul. But you also meet like-minded people through these things if you decide to join short courses or circles etc. And lets be honest, it gives you something else to talk about other than your job!
5. Self care
We get so busy in life that sometimes we forget to stop and just relax. We get conditioned into working hard and putting in extra hours and feel guilty spending time on ourselves. The truth is that we get caught up in this rat race and we don't realize that our purpose in life is not just our 9-5 and the after-work stress that we carry, its about living a good quality and well-learned life to the best of your ability. Find ways to pause, reflect and rejuvenate everyday. Whether it is through focusing on your thoughts and writing them down in a journal or taking care of your physical and mental health by taking a long bath or treating yourself to a facial, make the time for self-care!
6. Be more flexible
This concept applies to my attitude, as in to what I think life is supposed to be or my trajectory is supposed to be and to be more flexible towards it. To go with the flow more. To let things happen. And maybe not even have a trajectory worked out, and if there is a trajectory worked out to learn to be okay with the fact that you might deviate from it or end up on an entirely different path. Flexibility means to be able to problem solve and be creative, to be able to think of setback as not failures but simply challenges to be figured out and learn from. What ends up happening in being flexible and open to all possibilities and change is that your idea of success and life is actually continuously changes making your achievements and life limitless!
7. Be kind
This has been my motto from a very young age. Its something that I try to practice in life always and something that I wish to continue to practice. I have always found it important to be kind to everyone, since we don't know what battles they are fighting. But the thing that I need to work on is being kind to myself. At the end of the day you need to be your own best friend and biggest support. Loving yourself develops self-esteem and builds confidence. It also makes you happier and kinder to others. You know your life journey more than anyone else and if you cant be kind to yourself its hard to find others that will be kind to you instead.
My friends, my biggest take away is that NO ONE HAS IT ALL FIGURED IT OUT ...they just appear to have it figured out! Love yourself, take care of yourself, understand that life is a journey, learn to live more of a balanced life, keep learning and be kind.
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