You don't have to have it all figured out by 30 (or really by any age, because life is a constant journey). During our 20-something years, there can be a tremendous amount of pressure to figure everything out. We search for answers to important questions like "What do I want?" and "What do I want to do with my life?"
I was on track to answering those questions in my 20's. I had a prestigious career, a man I loved who proposed, money, fancy clothes and so on. When I lost it all at 27, I judged myself as a huge failure. I went from having everything to believing something was wrong with me.
But nothing was wrong with me. And nothing is wrong with you, either, if you feel like you failed at something or like a failure because you haven't done enough. You're simply going through a normal rite of passage that you may even call your "quarterlife crisis." So, if you feel confused, like nothing is really "right," but nothing feels "wrong," either, don't worry, you're NORMAL.
This time of our life when we are supposed to be "having the time of our life" can be overwhelming and downright scary at times. It can also be a time of great discovery, freedom and exhilaration if you are willing to remove expectations from others, society and yourself to figure everything out on a certain timeline or according to a certain checklist.
Now I'm saying you don't have to figure out everything but you do have to do something. Your life purpose is not going to just hit you like a lighting bolt while you're sitting in Starbucks surfing Facebook. If you want to live a life of meaning and make a meaningful impact, it's time to redefine your version of "everything."
I spent the past month interviewing over 30 thought leaders and experts who are in their twenties and thirties as part of a free resource called the Quarterlife Upgrade. One of the questions I asked each one was "What do you wish you knew then that you know now?" Below I share some of the themes that emerged from the interviews to reassure you, inspire you and remind you that you are not alone:
- You will fail. Allow yourself to make mistakes. You will learn so much valuable insight and information from failure so stop playing it so safe. Not risking is risky.
- Don't try to be perfect. It's not only exhausting, it's impossible.
- Your parents may want you to do things the way they did them or the way they think you should do them. Follow your own path even if they don't agree (and don't worry, they'll get over it).
- There is huge value in "oh no!" moments. The things that don't go according to plan are often the biggest blessings in your life -- sometimes, it just takes time to clearly understand what the blessing is.
- Do things to stand out, but don't just do them to stand out.
- Live your life according to your deepest values -- don't make hot, rich and famous your goal, because you'll never be fulfilled.
- Youth does not make you invincible, but it does give you the amazing opportunity to create habits for healthy living NOW.
- SLEEP. Eat green foods and ditch processed stuff (if you do not know or can't pronounce the ingredients, don't eat it!)
- Enjoy your body and stop punishing it with your criticism and yo-yo dieting. Breathe, meditate, say affirmations and exercise.
- Ladies, get off a timeline! Let go of the pressure of your biological clock because stress has an adverse effect on your fertility.
- Chemistry is necessary, but not sufficient in romantic relationships. Make a list of your values and top five non-negotiables and DO NOT SETTLE.
- Friendships matter -- they contribute significantly to your health and longevity!! Ditch toxic friendships and put the effort into friends who inspire and support who you are and where you are headed.
- Don't date someone's potential. When someone tells you or shows you who they are the first time, believe them.
- ALL relationships teach us valuable things about ourselves and are a catalyst for growth. Even if they end, they are a success if you are willing to look at what you learned about yourself.
- When it comes to break-ups, let go! No ex-stalking or obsessing. Move forward and do not shut down your heart. Getting hurt in love is something we all experience.
- There is no one "soul mate." You will probably have multiple romantic relationships and the MOST important relationship you have is the one with YOURSELF. No one can complete you other than YOU.
- The trick to personal finance is budgeting and SAVING, but be limitless in your money mindset. Learn ways to increase and appreciate your abundance right now. Abundance does not just come in form of money.
- Answering the question, "What do I want to do with my life" is more often a process of elimination rather than a lighting bolt of inspiration.
- Have patience because opportunity and success come in real time. Overnight success is not possible and you don't have to love your job to be happy at it!
- The workplace doesn't tolerate slackers -- don't be one!! Be more than your job description.
- Entrepreneurs: make sure the business you are starting is solving a specific problem. The most important ingredients to being an entrepreneur are initiative and discipline.
- Burnout is not a badge of honor. Don't try to do it all, focus on the 5% you're great at and delegate the rest!
- Develop your personal brand -- remember your passion makes you unique!!
- Write down what you want to be known for. Make a list of your professional and character values and never sell out.
- Your thoughts are creating your reality, so you are either attracting things to you or repelling them from you. Be mindful of your thoughts!
- Stop comparing yourself to everyone else and being so hard on yourself. Don't use Facebook as a torture device. Quiet your Inner Mean Girl or Inner Mean Dude and be your own best friend. Seriously, be nice to yourself!!!
- You're a grown up now, it is time to lovingly cut the umbilical chord with your parents and live YOUR life.
- Learn the language of your intuition and how to recognize when your heart is speaking to you and then how to respond once it does.
- Find a cause that you have an emotional tie to, educate yourself on the mission and get involved. Service is a key ingredient to happiness.
- Adopt a "what can I give" versus "what can I get" mindset. That is how you truly make an impact on the world.
I hope this advice helps you relax in the knowing you don't have to figure everything out and also ignites your sense of exploration, initiative and dedication to do something. In order to create a life of meaning, you have to live it! And if you want to even more free advice, you are invited to join me for The Quarterlife Upgrade.