“30 Things You Should Achieve Before You Turn 30”
“10 Financial Milestones You Need to Reach Before Age 30”
“20 Things Women Should Stop Doing by 30”
There are thousands of articles telling 29 year old’s exactly what milestones they need to hit by the time they reach the big 3-0.
I think I speak for many of my fellow millennials when I say…
Stop telling us how exactly our lives should look when we hit a certain age.
I’ll be 30 in a few months and I’m not looking forward to this particular birthday.
The aging part doesn’t bother me (it’s certainly preferable to the alternative!), but I have this idea in my head of all of the things I should have accomplished by now.
I’m sure that my life doesn’t look “successful” to most people for a number of reasons.
- I’m nearly 30, and my husband and I live in my parents’ basement.
- We don’t have kids and we have no plans to have them within the next few years.
- I work a boring 9-5 job. I like it well enough but it’s not particularly meaningful or fulfilling.
- I drive an 18 year old rust bucket car.
- I have a grand total of $1,000 in savings.
- I have less than $500 saved for retirement (saving for retirement has been on hold while we pay off our six figure student loan debt).
To the outside world, it appears that there are A LOT of important milestones that I should have achieved a while ago.
“Success” in our society is defined by reaching certain goals (getting married, having kids, being promoted) and accumulating stuff (big houses, nice cars, shiny toys).
Thanks to social media, we’re constantly bombarded with reminders of our friends’ and relatives’ achievements. We then compare everyone else’s highlight reel to our behind-the-scenes life and we feel inadequate.
Do you ever feel like you’re “behind”?
Maybe you’re single or you don’t have kids. Perhaps you hate your job and everyone else seems to be living the dream. Whatever it is, I think most of us feel like we’re “behind” in some way or another.
But we’re not. We all have our own unique journey. The problem is that you’re comparing someone else’s middle to your beginning.
What your life looks like at 30 will be completely different from how mine looks or how your friend’s looks or how your sister’s looks.
And that’s completely fine.
These lists about what “everyone should accomplish by the time they hit [xyz] age” only perpetuate comparisonitis and this feeling of being “behind”. I could look at lists like these and feel like a complete loser.
I could think about everything I haven’t accomplished…or I could recognize that checking milestones off a list doesn’t make someone a “success”.
I now define success in an entirely different way. I no longer see money or material objects as signs of achievement. Many of the people who appear well off aren’t actually doing well financially…they’re just racking up a bunch of debt.
My definition of “success” is to be able to live a happy, meaningful life filled with gratitude. The best things in life (faith, friends, family, pugs) aren’t expensive and they don’t involve checking goals off a list.
Sure, I don’t have a bunch of money sitting in the bank and there are many goals I have yet to reach. But I’ve learned to appreciate what I have and to enjoy the simple things in life.
That’s worth more than checking another box on a long list of achievements.
I’m 30. I do have good-enough retirement savings for that age.
However, I’m not interested in having kids, and in buying a home. It feels like many people can accept a childfree person, but will not understand how I can not want to buy a house.
People can be judgmental sometimes. I’m not sure why it matters to them. To each their own!