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20 Things People Learn From the Biggest Mistakes Made in Their 30s

20 Things People Learn From the Biggest Mistakes Made in Their 30s

No matter how wise you think you are when approaching your 30s, you are bound to emerge from the decade even more enlightened. Just as your 20s bring unexpected twists and turns, your 30s most definitely come with surprising discoveries. Whether you want a jump on these lessons, or just want to feel you’re not alone, these are the top 20 things people learn from the big mistakes they made in their 30s.

Waiting too long to start saving

It doesn’t take a six figure income or three degrees on your resume to have a secure retirement. The most sure fire way to save for your future is slowly over the years. Even if you feel like you’ll never be old in your 20s, the day will come when you wish you had started saving a little earlier.

Rushing into marriage

Another one of the biggest mistake from your 30s is to commit to marriage before you know everything about yourself. Too often we jump head first into decisions because society encourages them, only to find out a decade later that we’re painfully unhappy. There’s nothing wrong with taking your time while deciding who to settle down with, or if settling down is for you.

Holding on to the wrong partner

Similarly, once you realize you’re not happy in a relationship, a big mistake is to force yourself to stay. Regardless of your reasons, staying in an unhealthy relationship will eventually take a serious toll. Knowing when to let go, even if you’ve invested years, is a critical skill–one that sometimes only comes after some wrong turns in your 30s.

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Committing to the wrong career

Much in the same way, forcing yourself to stay in a career that’s wrong for you will eventually be more than just a bore. By your 30s, several years of performing unengaging daily tasks will start to weigh you down, until you yearn for a new start. Just like with an unhealthy relationship, cutting your losses at the wrong career can actually help you move forward into a job that resonates with you.

Ignoring finances

While many people in their 40s and 50s wish they made more time for travel in their youth, many people also regret paying no attention to their finances. Even if you don’t value a retirement, a small savings cushion can make all the difference when life grows unpredictable.

Only focusing on work

Another common regret for those leaving their 30s is disproportionately focusing on work. All too often our desire for financial stability eclipses our personal relationships, but in your 30s, you become aware of the damage this can do. Since many people also expressed regret over ignoring finances, a healthy balance between work and relationships is clearly essential in achieving a content existence for the rest of your life.

Ignoring your health

By the time you’re 30, you likely have some energetic, carefree times behind you. While your need to party will start to naturally subside as you age, try to work in ways to boost your health too. Most people coming out of their 30s regret not getting active earlier, as natural aches and pains come soon after this decade.

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Not traveling enough

A common regret from your 30s is not traveling enough. While a balanced approach to finances is best, you will never have less responsibilities. Traveling while you can, but within a balanced budget, can help you feel like you truly made the most of this decade.

Rushing into home ownership

Much like sticking with the wrong partner or career, roping yourself into home ownership before you’re ready can be a big mistake. Remember, not only will you need to pay off this home, you will need to stay in the same city until that happens.

Partying too much

Leaving your direction in life up to the future can also be a mistake. Your 30s should be about discovery, but too much carelessness is a recipe for an unstable, chaotic future. Many people leaving their 30s regret getting stuck in jobs below their potential, simply because they spent too much time partying in their 20s to find something they enjoy.

Using a cheap accountant

Another critical lesson from your biggest mistakes in your 30s is to find an honest, hardworking accountant with your best interest in mind. You likely won’t be a financial wizard by the time you leave your 30s, so you’ll want to have one on your side.

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Ignoring responsibility

Much like never planning for the future, failing to grow up where needed can cause some major mistakes when you get older. Learning how to remain youthful, while still being able to deal with reality, is valuable to your future.

Putting off spontaneity

Another big mistake people in their 30s make is neglecting to seize the moment. By the time you’re in your 40s, it becomes clear that time really is short, and it’s better to act today than never at all.

Investing recklessly

Many people in their 30s also make the mistake of investing their money recklessly. Even though you’re still considerably short of middle age, it doesn’t mean you haven’t earned your money. Avoid losing your earnings by familiarizing yourself with any program you invest in. Generally speaking, if the returns sound to good to be true, you’re better off keeping your money in the bank.

Neglecting your relationships

Much like growing hyper-focused on work, ignoring the best people in our lives can be another big mistake in your 30s. As cliche as it sounds, as we age, relationships really are the most valuable asset. Making time for those closest to you during your 30s is essential for a full life.

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Valuing things too much

Another big mistake in our 30s is to value things more than experiences. It may seem like physical investments bring the most pleasure, but as your possessions grow out of style and break, you will wish you had valued experiences more than things.

Rushing into other commitments

With pressures to have life figured out by your 30s, many 30-somethings feel they rushed into responsibility. Housing and marriage aside, it’s easy to rush into living arrangements, schooling or family commitments you’re just not ready for. There’s nothing wrong with taking a few extra years to work out whether you’re a family person, if you like the single life, or whether or not you’re happy pursuing your career.

Being too inflexible

Another common mistake from your 30s is failing to be flexible. You might think you are pursuing the lifestyle you want, but sometimes the reality of a job or career is different than you expect. If you find yourself unhappy in your 30s, remember that you are free to switch careers, partners or locations. If you find that you’re unhappy with your life, there’s no need to keep pursuing it.

Ignoring mistakes

Another big mistake in your 30s is to fail to learn from your mistakes. If you can’t learn from your mistakes the first few times you make them, you are doomed to have a turbulent, frustrating transition to your 40s.

Squandering your youth

Similarly, forgetting to value your youth is another big mistake in your 30’s. It’s easy to think painless joints and boundless energy will stick with you throughout life, but the opposite is true. Go after the things you really want while you have the health and energy to pursue them.

Featured photo credit: smile/Dima Viunnyk via flickr.com

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Alicia Prince

A writer, filmmaker, and artist who shares about lifestyle tips and inspirations on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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