I turned 29 last month and rather half expected to feel some sort of apprehension about being only 1 year away from 30. Yet, I felt next to nothing. I appreciated the confirmation that 30 is not the big scary age that many see it as and put this down to being supremely satisfied with how my twenties have turned out. Yeah, there’s room for improvement and I could play the fun game of comparing where I am in life with that of my peers, but overall I am pretty pleased.
One of the messages that I received on my birthday, was surprisingly from myself – a year ago. I’d used the service FutureMe to pen (type?) a letter or email rather to myself and was left pretty intrigued by exactly how much can change in a year.
2017 was a weird, transitionary year for me (and doesn’t sound like it was a great one for anyone, overall) and looking at the things I had hoped to have done by the end of the year, I achieved next to nothing.
If that bar set is one to go on, I failed at being 28 quite spectacularly – but rather, I view it as an example of priorities changing and life getting in the way. There’s nothing wrong with that at all.
I wrote an incredibly naval gazey post on my last birthday, which ended up doing a lot better than I expected (something which I’m almost embarrassed by now). And hey, why not continue on the tradition, of writing something equally as… let’s say inward-looking? There are other synonyms I could use in this instance, but we’ll just go with that.
Don’t compare yourself to others
I think this is the key thing to remember at any age. After all – comparison is the thief of joy. If you’re constantly comparing yourself to other’s perceived successes, you’ll never have a clear view of what you yourself are achieving. I’m pretty sure it’s something that it’s impressive in its own right.
I’ll admit, sometimes this is my favourite, twisted game to play. I can look at my friends who own houses (okay let’s be real as this is Australia – apartments), or have paid off their bloody mortgages. Who have pet dogs and kick-butt careers. Heck, even other people’s blogs make me jealous, with their pretty photos, wonderful storytelling skills, clear understanding of how SEO works and so, masses of readers.
And I have moments where I think “Why isn’t this meeeeeeee.”
Yet, the thing is – it could be. I’ve been working since I was 15 and could have bought a property by now – investment or otherwise. But I wanted to live overseas, see a bit of the world and travel to expensive Nordic destinations. I did it and I don’t regret a second of it. (Can’t say the same for the blog stuff, but hey. Just keep swimming).
“Having it all” is a myth and you have to prioritise what’s most important to you and then follow your heart in the matter. That’s what’s worth doing above all else.
Similarly, stop being so damn judgemental
Society loves to judge, otherwise why would reality TV be so damn popular? The older I get, the more I realise the less that this serves.
There were shows, publications and blogs that I used to love to hate-watch/read. I’ve all but banned them from my life and I feel so much better having done it.
And deleting Instagram has definitely helped in this regard (I don’t know how long this will last, but I’m enjoy it for now). I can’t recommend having breaks from social media enough.
It’s time to start taking care of your health
This is one facet of life that I know I’ve neglected in recent years and I fear I might be paying for it now, somewhat. So, I want to slam on the breaks before it’s too late.
After years of shift and desk work, at 29 I wake up stiff most mornings. I go and sit in front of a computer for hours on end and sometimes, I continue to do so when I get home at night. I know I don’t move enough and I have to wear glasses now and if I don’t do yoga at least 3 times a week, I’m wracked with pain across my body.
It’s pretty basic stuff, really. Eat well. Exercise often. Eat yer veggies. Prioritise sleep (more on that below). If something in your body seems out of whack – get a specialist to look at it. Attend the dentist regularly. Get your moles looked at. Take magnesium tablets. Rinse your sinuses every morning. Mediate. Whatever it is you need to do to keep in good health… start doing it now!
Get your sleeping patterns under control
I really do think good sleep is the cornerstone of well, everything in your life. You can’t function if you’re not rested, yet it’s often the first thing to go when we’re busy.
One of my big goals for this year is to establish a proper sleeping pattern, where I go to bed and wake up at a regular time and don’t feel like death as I drag my poor, tortured carcass around every morning. I’ve found if I’m in bed between 10pm and 11pm, I’ll naturally wake up before my alarm goes off at 7.30.
And that’s the other thing I want to work on – getting out of bed upon waking, rather than falling back asleep, entering a new sleep cycle and feeling terrible when I wake up once more. It really shouldn’t be the hardest thing in the world to accomplish, yet somehow it’s more difficult than it seems.
Having an actual alarm clock now and leaving my phone and so temptation in the living room, helps at least.
Your career’s not sorted? Rest easy
I spent a lot of my early to mid twenties freaking out about my “career” – where it was going, what I was doing, whether I was at a point that I should have been at considering my age. And of course, the overall question… did I actually like what I was doing and could I see myself continuing down this same career path for the next forty-odd years?
I almost quit my job on several occasions (and then did, only to move overseas and continue working in the same field). I contemplated going back to University or doing short courses online. I seriously considered chucking my current career down the drain and going down the path of freelance writing (far less lucrative than what I do now).
In short, I spent a long time fretting about something that eventually ended up sorting itself. Do I have my dream job? I guess not… mostly because I’m not entirely sure of what that would be. Yet, most days now I like what I do. The people I work with are cool. It gives me a lot of comfort and stability and I can essentially do whatever I want on the side – like write, take photos or work on this blog.
It may not be what I want to do forever and that’s okay. I’ve made my peace with it and I’m happy in the now.
Spend a bit more time sorting out your finances
I was a champion saver in my youth.
I’ve been working essentially since I was 13, babysitting for my little brothers and then working when I was legally old enough to. I worked from 15 in a pizza shop ’til 17 at a department store and used that money to buy my first car. I saved for my end-of-school celebrations by storing baby-sitting money in a large piggy bank throughout year 12.
I kept working whilst studying at University and by the time I moved out of home at 19, I had almost ten grand in the bank (which was supposed to be for studying abroad, but that’s another story).
Yet, I slacked off a bit in my twenties. I wanted to live overseas and travel and though I fulfilled both desires, they came at a price. I’m not as pleased with my financial situation as I used to be.
Although there are two things I’m proud of and would recommend to all young adults under thirty (particularly in Australia).
The first is – think about your retirement fund and if you can, make voluntary contributions to it, alongside whatever your employer contributes to it. You can contribute part of your pay as salary sacrifice that is untaxed – I believe the cap is $25,000 annually. That’s essentially free money going to you and not the government. You may not be able to access it now, but you’ll be thankful for it later.
The other is to pay off your student debt as soon as you’re able, through voluntary payments. There are less incentives now – you used to get rebates of first 20% and then 5%, but the govt have stripped them away now. Yet, the sooner you get it paid off, the better. I could have probably paid mine off in my early twenties with rebates that worked in my favour, but at least I’ve got it down to a manageable amount.
You don’t have to own property (but maybe it’s on the horizon)
Owning a place in Australia’s big cities is definitely no longer an option for many people. A woman DIED IN A HOUSE IN SYDNEY in one of the trendiest suburbs and rotted there for eight years, before it sold for over 1 million AUD at auction. Ew.
Yet, I do have friends who have managed to band together with their spouses to buy property in the bigger cities, or own their own in the smaller regional areas where it’s more achievable.
It’s not something I wanted to do in my twenties, so I didn’t do it. I had other priorities. But there is a part of me, that whispers late at night: “Maybe you made a silly mistake. Maybe this is what you should have been focusing on.” And I look at housing prices across the country now and I want to weep.
Yet, when I was younger, I had no idea that Australia was where I wanted to live. I liked my native country, but I had to leave it to fall in love with it. And I had to make the move to Melbourne before I found somewhere where I felt 110% at home.
So, I try not to feel too bad about not having leapt into this extremely adult part of life, whilst knowing that if it’s something I’m interested in doing in the future, all I have to do is make it a goal.
Spend all the time you can with your loved ones
You should spend as much time as possible with your loved ones, because time is finite. This really hit home for me when a friend died early last year, way before his time.
One thing I was truly grateful for, was having four months last year to spend with my ageing dog. We put him down earlier this year and it made it easier to do so (only slightly), having spent all that time with him.
Celebrate the friendships you have
Moving overseas made me so grateful for my friends. Not the ones who dropped off the side of the planet, never to be heard from again. But those who kept in touch via whatever means and were there to welcome me back with open arms when I arrived back into the country.
By the time you reach your late twenties/early thirties, chances are the friends you have are the ones who’ll be your buds for life. Hold onto and cherish them – they deserve it (as do you, in return!).
And get rid of any toxic relationships
Similarly, your late twenties is the time to let go of any relationships that aren’t healthy. Some of these will be difficult – they’re probably people who’ve been on the scene for a large chunk of your life – but in a lot of cases, they don’t have any right to be in your inner circle, any longer.
This applies to personal relationships as well. For example, I think most young women go through a “dating arseholes” phase (Lord knows I certainly did). When I was in my mid-twenties, I made a decision on how I wanted to be treated and drew a line in the sand. If anyone dared crossed that line, they were gone.
I know if I hadn’t done this I wouldn’t have had my last fantastic relationship, nor the equally but differently brilliant one I’m in now. When you develop a little respect for yourself, you begin to attract the right and the good kind of people. Fact.
Explore your own backyard
Living overseas made me very appreciative of my own country, something I was lacking in before I left.
When I arrived back home, I was determined to explore more of my own backyard and despite time and financial restraints (Oz ain’t exactly cheap to travel in), feel like I’m doing pretty well in my endeavour.
One of my regrets from living in Sydney (where I resided for 14 years of my life as both a kid and adult) is that I didn’t take the time to explore the city as much as a should’ve. I’m determined to not make the same mistake with Melbourne (whilst being very much spurned on by my neighbourhood guides!).
One thing I am very pleased by, is how much I’ve read over the course of my life.
I’ve always been a bookworm, but it hasn’t been until recent years that I’ve made it a real priority. I now endeavour to read over 100 books a year, across genres.
There are so many benefits to this. It keeps my mind sharp, it keeps me entertained and I think it probably makes me a better writer. These are all good things, of that I’m sure anyone would agree.
Start that thing you’ve been putting off
There are a few hobbies I’ve personally wanted to take up throughout my twenties, but circumstances have got in the way (like weird work hours, or constantly moving cities).
Yet, there are some I could have concentrated harder on and probably would be much better at by now. Like creative writing or drawing. I started playing the violin at 19 for the second time in my life and quit a year later. If I’d continued for the next decade, I’d be a real gun at it now.
I think having hobbies is really important and you only disappoint yourself in being inconsistent in them.
This year, I want to start regularly drawing again and I’d like to return to learning a language (for the 50 millionth time). And this time, I want to stick them both out, so in another decade’s time, I can look back on my progress and feel pleased.
Schedule alone time and do nice things for yourself
One of my favourite things to do at the moment after I get home from work is to cook a nice meal to eat alone, before lighting a candle or burning some essential oil as I settle down to read a good book for a few hours.
I’m also getting more and more into “wellness” (do hate that word), especially as I get older and feel my poor, tortured body start to disintegrate.
It’s important to treat yourself every once in awhile (with the right treats, of course!). It’s the small things which make life worth living, after all.
Slow down and smell the roses
My biggest goal for 2018 is to slow down (as it has been in many years past!).
We’ve created this world where we’re all so busy and available. We don’t switch off from our jobs. We don’t switch off from each other. We live lives of convenience (a convenience which is having a negative impact on the world we live in). We rush around, having no time to appreciate the small things in life – the sound of a magpie warbling in the morning, a smile from a stranger, the act of shopping for ingredients to cook your own meal at night (I will die before I order a meal kit in).
In doing so, we can completely lose our sense of gratitude.
Personally, I’ve got a really bad habit of saying ‘yes’ to everything – work, social engagements. My goal is to put my foot down and say NO more often and in doing so, give myself more time to appreciate all the things that really matter in life… and I believe that’s most of the things on this list.
Do you agree with this list? Anything you’d add?
Like this post? Stick a pin in it.