I turned 30 last year. In addition to experiencing some of the new realities like taking longer to recover from workouts and an internal alarm clock that doesn’t allow me to sleep in, I also noticed another challenge in this decade.
One challenge I’ve recognized this year is the subtle lie that my 30s should be a season when I really start to gain traction and momentum in life.
Whereas our 20s are about starting out, trying new things, and learning from failures — our 30s are supposed to be the time when you start moving up in your career. Our 20s might have been about finding a spouse — our 30s are supposed to be a decade when we are starting and growing our family.
If “50 is the new 30” when we think about our looks and physiques, then it’s almost like “30 is the new 50” when it comes to our achievements and prosperity.
What’s Wrong with Believing This Lie About Our 30s?
But here’s the subtle problem with that mindset. If we believe that our 30s are all about gaining traction and momentum, what happens when that doesn’t work out like we think it should? If we’re not beginning to reap some benefits in our 30s, it must mean we’re doing something wrong. We must be behind. And what happens if this continues into our 40s? At that point, we must be an utter failure, right?
What if our 30s were more about sowing rather than reaping? What if rather than feeling “behind” because we haven’t achieved certain milestones we expected to reach, we saw our 30s as another decade to continue to cultivate the soil of our careers and relationships?
How to Avoid the “30 is the New 50” Lie
So how do we shift the paradigm to view our 30s as another decade to become good soil for the future? Here are a few principles I’m trying to remind myself whenever I start to feel the pull of the lie that I should have life figured out in my 30s.
- Spend time with people older than you. One thing I love about connecting with people in their 60s and 70s is that you realize there’s never a point in life when we feel like we’ve “made it.” I know men and women who didn’t start their company or find their calling until they were in their 40s and 50s. I know people who had setbacks in their 30s that they wouldn’t trade for the world because of how it shaped them. Getting perspective from people with more experience can help us see the idea of “thriving in our 30s” for what it really is… a fallacy.
- If you feel yourself constantly pushing and striving, stop. Our 30s can be a time when we start to gain traction and momentum. It can also be a season when we do a lot of damage — to ourselves and others around us. We can strive so hard to make it in our careers that we miss out on building a solid foundation with our spouses and children. Recognizing the areas where I’m pushing and striving is a great way to identify the ways we feel “behind” in life. Those are the areas where we need to release and rest.
- Continue to focus on the person you’re becoming. Dallas Willard once said, “The most important thing in your life is not what you do; it’s who you become.” This is something I have to remind myself daily. When I pause and wonder about whom I’m becoming, it helps relieve the pressure that comes with believing my 30s should look a certain way.
Here’s one thing I know about my 30s, a lot will happen over the next ten years. Most of it will be unexpected. Stepping into this new decade with that reality in mind helps me stay grounded in the present. Rather than being overwhelmed by all the striving and pressing that comes from thinking my 30s should be a decade of success and accomplishment, I’m able to measure the entire decade differently. I can actually enjoy this season for what it is, another decade to grow, develop, and be transformed.