This week I will be turning 31. Eek. Although it is not nearly as scary as it was to turn 30; looking back on the past year I can’t believe just how much I’ve grown. When I first turned 30, I wrote a silly blog post about what every woman should have by the age of 30. Reading over the list, my opinions still stand. But in the past year I have noticed things about myself and the business world I would have never seen in my 20’s.
I have learned about my business self but I have also learned about myself as a person. Knowing who you are and what you want are critical steps in making the most of your career. There is no point in wafting through life, jumping from unsatisfactory job to unsatisfactory job. Time is to precious. Life is too short.
Perhaps turning 30 made me stop and realize, “wait, what do I want?” It opened my eyes because when you are a child, you grow up with the idea that you will have your whole life figured out at 30. You think you will have your house (not true), husband (true), family (not true), and career (somewhat true) all conquered. That there will be no loose ends. But that is not the case. And yet we beat ourselves up for not having all the things that society tells us we have to have by 30.
What about all the lessons we have learned by 30? Aren’t they important enough?
1. You Don’t Have to Please Everyone
I’ve always felt I have to please everyone. This year, I found out that if I go around making sure everyone else is alright, but I forget about myself, I am going to start running on empty. There will always be someone who doesn’t understand your drive. There will always be someone ready to pull you down. There will always be someone not satisfied with the work you produce. You can’t please everyone. At the end of the day, all you can do is be yourself and do your work to the best of your ability. If people can’t appreciate you after that, then that is their loss. Not yours.
2. Don’t Stay in a Toxic Work Environment
If you go to work and have to fight off an anxiety attack before you even get out the car, there is a problem. If you find yourself crying about work, there is a problem. If you find yourself staying up at night, unable to sleep because of the troubles at work, there is a problem. No, you are not meant to live like that. No, that is not healthy. Toxic work environments are horrible for the soul. You are not a slave and you should not be treated as such. There comes a time when you have to say enough is enough – for your soul. I’m happy that I work in a pleasant environment but this has not always been the case. When I realized the toll that work can take on your spirit, I finally saw what it means to put your foot down and stand up for yourself. Don’t lose yourself and your sanity for the sake of a paycheck.
3. No Matter What Job You Take, Don’t Stop Being You
Everyone has their strengths and their weaknesses. I learn my own every day (as I am sure you do too). My husband is a drummer and I write fiction and poet. Sometimes when you go to work, you put so much energy into the work you do, you forget about your passions. This year, I learned the importance of pursuing my own passions no matter what job I take. Just because I am not where I expected to be by 30, doesn’t mean I should give up my fight for the top. I will never stop being me. I will never change my morals to better suit a company. I will never lose sight of my goals. I will not be caged.
This bird likes to sing.
4. It’s Ok To Dress Down
In my twenties I wore the following to work: high heels (like break your neck heels), ridiculous colors, leopard print, flowers in my hair, loud earrings, big chunky jewelry. Oddly enough, I turned 30 and realized all those things were just a way to cover up my own insecurities. Every morning I spent 20 minutes perfecting my make up. My nails were manicured, my hair was curled.
I turned 30 and realized, I don’t really care! Who cares if my nails are done? Who cares if my make up looks perfect everyday? It’s all a facade. Nowadays I dress as I feel comfortable, though I still enjoy dressing up from time to time. I wear less make up. My heels are lower to the ground (I don’t want knee and back problems). I am so happy just being me.
I might have some grey hairs. My skin might not be perfect. I could probably use a few weekly trips to the gym. But you know what? I’m fine with that. I’m me. Blessed to wake up every day and breathe and see and listen and learn and just be.
5. The Best Bosses Have Open Doors
Over the years I have had a lot of bosses. I actually thank each and every one of them for teaching me great lessons about business and about myself. Even the worse bosses taught me patience. But the best lessons I learned from bosses were the ones who encouraged an open door policy. They were the kind of bosses that said, “come in and sit down. Let’s talk about it.” I was able to air my concerns, bring up creative ideas, and brain storm with them. These bosses are the ones who understand the fundamental rule: “the best teachers show you where to look, they don’t tell you what to see.”
Bosses that encourage open dialogue can learn from their employees. What is going on in the heart of my business. What is going on in the “front lines?” How can we improve our business? As I teach my employees, what can I learn from them?
Instead of thinking about your business as a dictatorship, how about thinking about it as a community.
I’m thankful to have learned from some great bosses this year.
6. Rejection Is Just Re-Direction
As a writer, I have come to realize that I will face many rejections in my life. When I was a teenager, I had a English professor tell me that I would never make it as a writer. She said my spelling and grammar were terrible. I asked her what about the actual writing though. What about the story? She said the story was beautiful, but that it takes more than that to be a writer.
Looking back on that, I could have just put down the pen right there and said, “Ok I guess I will never make it.” But wait. She said I had a beautiful story! That’s the heart of any great writer. She thought I was shooting me down, instead she only pushed me further. She was right. My grammar and spelling needed work – they still do!
Rejections will come and go. If I stopped doing what I loved every time someone said I sucked, I would be nowhere by now. I’m glad for the rejections, both professionally and personally, because they helped me grow or they helped re-direct me onto the right path.
7. Don’t Dream It, Do It
I looked back at a Facebook post I wrote on December 12, 2013. It said: “Turn your thoughts into actions and your dreams into realities. Life is too short to waste it hoping and wishing, thinking and pondering. The time is now!”
So many of us sit around waiting for the opportune time to follow our dreams. “Well I wanted to write a book, but I will do it next year.” Or “I’ve been wanting to ask for that raise, but I’m just so scared.”
The time is now. The universe is abundant. Ask for what you deserve and you will receive it. If not immediately, then in time. It will be yours if you believe it. Life is too short wondering about the “what if’s” or “maybes.” Instead of wondering about it, why not just do it?
I might still have Disney princess songs stuck in my head, but as I turn 31, that’s exactly what I intend to do.