If I look around, I’ve really built the life that the 13-year-old me dreamed of. Living in a big city working at a cool big girl job. Traveling for work. Having much more ease and leisure than the adults I grew up around.
It’s a life that would momentarily shock what 21-year-old me had planned. I’m not a missionary or a minister.
It would probably even surprise 26-year-old me, who was planning on having more kids and maybe working part-time.
So, in no particular order, here are 30 lessons for work, relationships, mental health and everything in between from this newly minted 30-year-old.
- Your 20s are overrated.
- You can’t change people. But you can change how you relate to and interact with them.
- Question every “should” — there’s really no blueprint or rule book for a happy life.
- Stop waiting for the perfect body to live your life fully.
- Quit your job (i.e. job hop). This is the fastest, most effective way to increase your lifetime earnings and accelerate your career.
- Define career success for yourself. Don’t chase someone else’s ambition. Like my mom always told me, “Abby, you can be anything — but you can’t be everything.”
- Create a “minimum viable day.” In my lowest slumps, mine was this: wash face, drink coffee, breathe outside air, complete any 3 work-related tasks.
- Treat your weekends like vacations.
- Your life is *your life. Don’t let anyone pressure you into timelines or decisions like getting married, having children, going to grad school, etc.
- You can’t do it alone – you need mentors, peer support, etc.
- You are the expert on you. Not your spouse. Not your parents. Not your doctor. Not your church, friend group, etc.
- Notice your body — or it will force you to notice it. The body stores the stress and trauma we refuse to acknowledge.
- Get ahead of no. 12 by being kind to yourself. Meditate, observe your thoughts without judgment and with curiosity. You’ll learn so much about yourself.
- People hire and promote people they like. It’s not always fair, but it’s how the game is played.
- Keep in touch with old coworkers when you can. This was hard for me at first, but as I became more comfortable in my own skin at jobs, I formed meaningful connections with coworkers that made staying in contact feel natural.
- You will outgrow relationships.
- Moments > milestones.
- Career paths aren’t linear. Try to roll with the pivots and setbacks, and maintain this perspective.
- The ‘right job’ for you might not exist yet. Focus on what you enjoy doing and less on titles/industries.
- Negotiate. The. Job. Offer.
- Everyone is winging it, from CEOs to interns.
- Google is your friend. Make research and self-serving information a way of life and you’ll go far.
- Talk about equity and mental load early in your relationship. Keep talking about it after you have kids.
- See marriage and romantic relationships as completely optional instead of compulsory. Don’t lower your standards and instead pursue a life that serves *you — that way you can feel good and ready when/if an excellent partner presents themselves to you.
- Impact > intent.
- Tell the people you love how much you love them. Tell them often and with specificity.
- Talk about money. Dig into your relationship with it. Ditch the shame around the subject and have a little self-compassion.
- Many “successful” people likely have advantages you don’t (from generational wealth to fitting a certain racial/gender/neurotypical, etc. mold). Don’t compare and protect your energy.
- It’s OK to change your mind.
- If you’re a woman, and especially a woman of color, be prepared to work twice as hard as your white male counterparts. It’s not fair, but know that you’re not alone.
Thanks for reading if you’ve gotten to the end! Ultimately, there’s aging and then there’s growing/evolving.
How about you? What's surprising about your current life stage? What do you wish you could tell your younger self?