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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 May 22, 2020

What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

The word “leader” makes you think of people in charge, high-ranking people: your boss, politicians, presidents, CEOs…

But leadership really isn’t about a particular position or a person’s seniority. Just because someone has worked for many years doesn’t mean s/he has gained the qualities and skills to lead a team.

Getting promoted to a managerial position doesn’t automatically turn you into a leader either. CEOs and other high-ranking officials don’t always have great leadership skills.

So what makes a good leader? What are the characteristics of a leader?

Good leadership is about acquiring and honing specific skills. Leadership skills enable you to be a role model for a team in any environment. With great leadership qualities, successful leaders come in all shapes and sizes: in the home, at school, or in the workplace.

The following are some of the many characteristics great leaders exhibit.

1. A Positive Attitude

Great leaders know that they won’t have a happy and motivated team unless they themselves exhibit a positive attitude. This can be done by remaining positive when things go wrong and by creating a relaxed and happy atmosphere in the workplace.

Even some simple things like providing snacks or organizing a team Happy Hour can make a world of difference. An added perk is that team members are likely to work harder and do overtime when needed if they’re happy and appreciated.

Even in the worst situations, such as experiencing low team morale or team members having made a big mistake at work, a great leader stays positive and figures out ways to keep the team motivated to solve the problems.

Walt Disney had his share of hardships and challenges, and like any great leader, he managed to stay positive and find new opportunities. In 1928, Disney found that his film producer, Charles Mintz, wanted to reduce his payments for the Oswald series. Mintz threatened to cut ties entirely if Disney didn’t accept his terms, and Disney chose to part ways. But in leaving Oswald, Disney decided to create something new: the iconic Mickey Mouse[1].

The key is to break down huge challenges into smaller ones and find ways to tackle them one by one.

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Think about the lessons you can learn from the mistake and jot them down because sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.

2. Confidence

All great leaders have to exhibit an air of confidence if they’re going to succeed. Please don’t confuse this with self-satisfaction and arrogance. You want people to look up to you for inspiration, not so they can punch you in the face.

Confidence is important because people will be looking to you on how to behave, particularly if things aren’t going 100% right. If you remain calm and poised, team members are far more likely to as well. As a result, morale and productivity will remain high, and the problem will be solved more quickly.

If you panic and give up, they will know immediately and things will simply go downhill from there.

Elon Musk is a great example of a leader with confidence. He truly believes that Tesla will be successful, which he has shown many times through his actions. He converted 532,000 stock options at $6.63 each, their value on Dec. 4, 2009, before Tesla went public. It was a hefty bargain considering Tesla’s stock price stood at around $195 per share at that time. He doesn’t apologize for his beliefs and has drawn fire from just about everyone for his political actions.

You can’t instantly become a very confident person, but all the small things you do every day will gradually make you more confident:

  • List 5 things you like about yourself every day (something different every day), and you’ll appreciate yourself more.
  • Work on your strengths and do your best to enhance them.

3. A Sense of Humor

It’s imperative for any kind of leader to have a sense of humor, particularly when things go wrong. And they will.

Your team members are going to be looking to you for how to react in a seemingly dire situation. It would probably be best if you weren’t stringing up a noose for yourself in the corner. You need to be able to laugh things off because if staff morale goes down, so will productivity.

Establish this environment prior to any kind of meltdown by encouraging humor and personal discussions in the workplace.

As a president, Barack Obama exuded confidence and calm during stressful situations. But he was also known for his “dad jokes,”[2] his genuinely funny speeches at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and appearing on Zack Galifianakis’s Between Two Ferns.[3] Obama’s sense of humor made him grounded, realistic, and honest, which no doubt helped during some tense moments in the White House!

Learn to laugh at yourself. Confident people laugh about their own silly mistakes, and when you do this, others will also trust you more because you’re willing to share your experiences.

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Be observant and learn from the jokes others make. You can also get a lot of inspiration from the internet.

4. Ability to Embrace Failure

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, failures will happen; that’s okay. You just need to know how to deal with them.

Great leaders take them in strides. They remain calm and logically think through the situation and utilize their resources. What they don’t do is fall apart and reveal to their team how worried they are, which leads to negative morale, fear, and binge-drinking under desks.

Great leaders do, in fact, lead, even when they’re faced with setbacks.

Henry Ford experienced a major setback after designing and improving the Ford Quadricycle. He founded the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899, but the resulting cars they produced did not live up to his standards and were too expensive. The company dissolved in 1901. Ford took this in stride and formed the Henry Ford Company. The sales were slow and the company had financial problems; it wasn’t until 1903 that the Ford Motor Company was successful and put the Ford on the map.

Get to the root cause of any problem so you can prevent it from happening again and learn from the mistake.

By asking “why” 5 times (or more) on why something happened, you can find out the key factor that caused the problem and can find the best solution to tackle the problem.

You’ll also learn how to prevent this from happening again in the future after finding out a problem’s root cause.

5. Careful Listening and Feedback

This is far more complex than it actually sounds. Good communication skills are essential for a great leader. You may very well understand the cave of crazy that is your brain, but that doesn’t mean that you can adequately take the ideas out of it and explain them to someone else.

The best leaders need to be able to communicate clearly with the people around them. They also need to be able to interpret other people properly and not take what they say personally.

The Dalai Lama, as a symbol of the unification of the state of Tibet, represents and practices Buddhist values. The Dalai Lama’s leadership is benevolent and aims toward truth and understanding, alongside the other Buddhist precepts. This is a great example for all leaders: if you want to give good directions to others, you have to get feedback from others to understand the situation properly.

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Encourage communication between team members and establish an open door policy.

Practice not interrupting team members when they’re talking. Instead, summarize what they say and ask for feedback after you have talked about your ideas.

6. Knowing How and When to Delegate

No matter how much you might want to, you can’t actually do everything yourself. Even if you could, in a team environment that would be a terrible idea anyway.

Good leaders recognize that delegation does more than simply alleviate their own stress levels (although that’s obviously a nice perk). Delegating to others shows that you have confidence in their abilities, which subsequently results in higher morale in the workplace, as well as loyalty from your staff. They want to feel appreciated and trusted.

Although Steve Jobs was known for focusing in on the smallest of details, he knew how to delegate. By finding, cultivating, and trusting capable team members, Jobs was able to make Apple run smoothly, even when he had to be absent for extended periods of time.

To know when and how to delegate work to team members, you have to be very familiar with each of them:

  • List out all of their strengths, weaknesses, and personalities.
  • Talk with your team members more to know about their passion and interests.

Take a look at this guide and learn more about delegation: How to Delegate Work Effectively (The Definitive Guide for Leaders)

7. Growth Mindset

Any good leader knows how important it is to develop the skills of those around them. The best can recognize those skills early on. Not only will development make work easier as they improve and grow, it will also foster morale. In addition, they may develop some skills that you don’t possess that will be beneficial to the workplace.

Great leaders share their knowledge with the team and give them the opportunity to achieve. This is how leaders gain their respect and loyalty.

Pope Francis has been unusually popular with many Catholics and many non-Catholics. His position isn’t totally traditional, which is part of his appeal, but he also has admirable leadership skills. Pope Francis’s TED talk[4] drew attention because he encouraged leaders to be humble and to demonstrate solidarity with others. This inclusive, kind, and respectful style of leadership is incredibly important for any situation.

It’s important to spend time talking with other team members individually to understand them.

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Find out team members’ current challenges and try to give feedback and encouragement so they will grow and do better.

8. Responsibility

Great leaders know that when it comes to their company, work place or whatever situation they’re in, they need to take personal responsibility for failure. How can they expect employees to hold themselves accountable if they themselves don’t?

The best leaders don’t make excuses; they take the blame and then work out how to fix the problem as soon as possible. This proves that they’re trustworthy and possess integrity.

Howard Gillman is the chancellor of UC Irvine. You might have heard of how the university rescinded a bunch of acceptances, and then changed its mind[5], This past spring, an unusually high number of accepted students decided to matriculate; the school initially responded by rescinding offers over things like missed deadlines. But the college realized this was a mistake and reversed its decision. Gillman and the university accepted responsibility and decided to move past their earlier bad decision.

Always ask yourself what you can do better or what you should change. Take responsibility and think about what you can do better to prevent this from happening next time.

9. A Desire to Learn

It’s safe to say that all great leaders will have to enter unchartered waters at some point during their career. Because of this, they have to be able to trust their intuition and draw on past experiences to guide them.

Great leaders know that there’s always something to learn from everything they have experienced before. They are able to connect the present challenges with the lessons learned in the past to make decisions and take actions promptly.

You can either recall what you’ve learned from your memories or search your notes (ideally, a software that you can access anywhere with things well-organized).

Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, has mostly made the right calls. But in dealing with huge amounts of money, Buffett has also made several multi-million (and sometimes multi-billion) dollar mistakes. He has stated that buying the company Berkshire Hathaway was his biggest mistake[6]. From that poor choice, he realized that it was unwise to pursue “improvements” and “expansions” in the existing textile industry. Despite mistakes like this, Buffett has invested wisely, and it shows.

To effectively learn from the past, write down lessons you’ve learned from any mistakes you’ve made. Have all the lessons well organized, and when similar things happen again in future, take these lessons as references.

The Bottom Line

Leadership traits are learnable. If you practice consistently, you can be a great leader, too.

Make small changes to your habits when you work with your team, wherever that may be. Most of us aren’t presidents or CEOs, but we all work with other people, and our actions always impact others. This gives every person the chance to develop leadership skills and to stand out from the crowd.

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Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

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