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25 Things You Must Know by the Time You Turn 30

25 Things You Must Know by the Time You Turn 30

Congratulations! You made it into your third decade in this body. That is an accomplishment of which to be proud. As I remember my first three decades, there were a lot of uncertainties. Other people seemed to have all the answers. By 30 I was still trying to figure things out. During that time I would have really appreciated someone telling me some vital things. So, here I sit, fingers poised above keyboard once again with the purpose of imparting some hard won wisdom to you in the hopes that it will save you a few sleepless nights.

1. You can do whatever you want in life.

There are step by step ways to accomplish any goal. If it has been accomplished by someone else, all you have to do is choose your virtual mentor and follow in his or her footsteps. If you are doing something that has not been done before, it is more challenging but your path can be mapped out if you take note of the things that have worked for you and those that have not. Do the things that work and pitch the ones that don’t.

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    2. There is always something you can learn in any subject or situation.

    The saddest thing I have ever seen is the man who knows everything. You watch him fail time after time with the obvious reasons for failure staring him in the face. Yet he continues to make the same mistakes and each time his losses multiply. You try to understand this person but he won’t listen to reason about how to handle his situation. He simply goes on knowing best about everything. Be the person who actively looks for new things to learn. Be willing to let go of a notion if it doesn’t work.

    3. If you want to be successful hang around with successful people.

    Your own thoughts, ideas and considerations about things shape your future. We live our ideas. For example, if you have an idea that it is noble to be poor, you will live your life in such a way as to remain poor. If this idea is sunk into your subconscious, you don’t even know you are acting it out in life. A good exercise, when things are not going well in life, is to sit down and write out all of your thoughts and considerations about the thing you are having trouble with. Get rid of the ones that hold you back.

    4. There is no magic to earning your living.

    Or being filthy rich (Side note: why is it that adjectives describing being wealthy are negative like “filthy” or “stinking”?). Money is not magical. It doesn’t simply fall to earth like drifting snow and land on those who are “lucky”. People who have money realize that money is a reward for providing goods and services to someone who needs them. The level of necessity for these items and the level of skill required for the service or item are what determines the price of your labor. If you are an accountant and it is approaching tax deadline, you will be busy and make lots of money. If you are on the street selling expensive pencils that no one wants, you will starve.

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      5. There is nothing wrong with charging money for your services.

      It would be wonderful if we all could give away our goods and services whenever we want to, but the bottom line is that we have to support ourselves and we do deserve some reward for our labors. Of course we do have to help other people. There are times when you will volunteer to work and advance a cause or an organization, but don’t do this at the expense of your own life and health, or the life and health of your family who depend on you.

      6. Sacrificing yourself never works out.

      There will be times when you will be made to feel that you should put yourself last. You will be encouraged to forsake your family to get ahead. All of this is expected, and sometimes necessary, but it is up to you to find the balance and insist on it being kept. Your boss may want you to work all night so he can be ready for a presentation the next day. If this happens once in a great while, it could be okay but if he expects this every week and gives you no extra time off to handle other areas of your life, it is unethical for you to do it. And it is probably unethical for you to be working for someone with such poor planning skills. Your skills and effort could be much more useful elsewhere.

      7. You are responsible for every action you take in life and every condition your life is in.

      This sounds harsh and I had a hard time with that until I asked myself, “Who is the most motivated person to see that my life works out the way I want it to?” The answer is ME. So the next question is, “Who is really going to take responsibility to ensure that my life works out the way I want it to?” Again, there is only one answer. Yes, your mom and your wife and everyone who cares about you want your life to work out but who is the one who makes all of the bajillion everyday decisions that drive your life? It is you.

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        8. There are some things they don’t teach you in school.

        When I was 20, I had a lot of trouble with banking. I simply could not accurately predict how much money I had in my account at any given time. It wasn’t until my sister sat me down and went over how to balance my checkbook that I  learned that you even could balance a checkbook! I was pretty naïve but that simple piece of information changed everything. Find out ways to learn things that may not be taught to you.

        9. School doesn’t work for everyone.

        Especially in this day and age. School gives you information. Many times, unless you have a stellar teacher and stellar textbooks, the information comes at you and there is no indication which facts are important and which are not or even whether they are correct. You are tested, not on how to use the data you have learned, but on trivia. Who cares what exact date a battle started on? What is infinitely more important is what went wrong in society at that time that warranted a battle and how can we avoid that situation today? That is the vital information, not the date! When you are given information, ask yourself, “How am I going to USE this information?” If you can’t see how to use it, forget it. If you have been having trouble with school, stop thinking that you have failed and start looking at whether or not school has failed you.

        10. Not everyone who is an “authority” is right.

        Whenever anyone gives you any data, check it over for yourself and see if it works for you and seems correct. If it doesn’t seem correct, don’t rely on it. There is more false data out there than true data. You just have to figure out which is which.

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          11. Drugs are a fast track to nowhere.

          There is a lot of hype about drugs today, both medicinal and street drugs. Understand that a body kept in good condition, given the vitamins and nourishment it requires, repairs itself. If you are having trouble, look to nutrition first unless it is a medical emergency. With regard to recreational drugs, these are poisons and they will not get you where you want to go in life. People use these drugs to handle a problem they are having. Find out what the problem is and confront it! Figure out a solution or get help with that problem. You can’t medicate your way through life. It doesn’t work and it is extremely harmful.

          12. Life is fluid.

          Life changes every second of every day. If you have fixed ideas about how it is supposed to be and how you will handle things, you will take wrong steps. In any given situation, look at it and really see it. Plan your actions accordingly. Operating on fixed ideas and actions will only take you so far. Actual observation and action is always best.

          13. Stick to what you know is right.

          There are times in life where you will disagree with just about everyone else. This does not mean you are wrong. Sometimes a lot of people can be wrong all at the same time. If this were not true, Hitler would have been squashed the first minute he started talking. Instead Germany allowed him to decimate a large portion of the world. Being the one voice of reason is not popular but it is the only path to happiness.

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            14. Truth and integrity are your most valuable assets.

            You see what you see and deep down, you know the truth about things. Don’t divert from your course because someone else doesn’t like it. Don’t agree with someone just to keep the peace. Any peace you can get on this planet is bought through strength and integrity. It is maintained through the idea that you do not stand for lies and bad ethics. Integrity and truth are the seat of your power. If you let these things go, you have nothing.

            15. Be the rising tide.

            The rising tide lifts all boats. This statement is my motto in life. In EVERY action I take, I look to see which action will lift the most people. Then I do that action. It never fails. It helps a lot of people and it always, always, always results in a huge benefit for me. You MUST include yourself in your calculations of how many people benefit.

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            16. Sometimes life is uncomfortable.

            This cannot be avoided but if you learn from the discomfort, you can minimize it in the future. Don’t fear discomfort but when it occurs. Figure out how to change it.

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              17. Life demands ownership from you.

              There are people who go through life being buffeted about by every force, big and small, and never do anything unless someone or something forces them to do it. This is a miserable way to live. How much better is it to decide to make things happen and then do it? Life is much easier when you are in charge and very dangerous if you are not.

              18. Do not look for validation from others for doing the right thing.

              Many times in life I have had to go against the status quo in order to right a wrong. I was dumbfounded when I got hit in the face with anger, back stabbing and outright threats. It is not pretty but you always have to do what your consciences tells you to do.

              19. Do not seek revenge.

              Revenge for the sake of revenge never feels good when it is carried out and, believe it or not, it ties you to the person that you have taken revenge against. You will never be free of that person in your thoughts and mind thereafter. Sometimes you do have to act against a person to stop the damage they are wreaking on others. This is a correct action in the grand scheme of things. But revenge just for revenge’s sake is evil. I don’t care how many movies make it seem okay.

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                20. Not all people are sane.

                I know this seems like a no brainer but I am amazed at how often people make excuses for those acting crazy. It is as if people think that insane people do exist but unless they are raving they are not insane. Insanity manifests in many ways. It can be overtly insane like a murderer or other criminal, or it can be covert. Secret backstabbers and those who mentally abuse are great examples. They create havoc in relationships and ruin people’s lives. This is insane behavior despite that fact that TV and movies make it appear “normal”.

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                21. The people in your life are the most important thing there is.

                Back in 1989, we had an earthquake here in California and it was devastating. When the shaking stopped there was an eerie calm broken only by the sounds of a woman screaming. She screamed for minutes and finally stopped. Once I realized that I was not injured, my first thought was for my neighbors and when I found that they were okay I called everyone I knew. In fact, everyone was calling everyone they knew and the phones were down. The lesson from this is that when disaster strikes, you don’t give a flying hoot in Hell about your possessions. All you care about is the people you love.

                22. Focus more on the good in life and not the bad.

                The good things in life are what make it worth living. If you focus on the negative things, you will not be happy. We do have to give some consideration to the bad in life but make sure the good overbalances it.

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                  23. You have many people, but your kids have only you.

                  If you lose a friend or a lover, you can find another one even if you are devastated. Your child can never find another mom or dad. They adore you from the moment they are born and look up to you. Do not take this lightly. Care for them and do not take unnecessary risks with your life. They cannot replace  you.

                  24. Your enemies will expect attacks but will never expect compassion.

                  Weirdly, the opposite of what your instincts tell you to do in situations where you are under attack is generally correct. There will be occasions where you will have to act and harm another person if that person needs to be stopped for the good of everyone, but most times compassion and communication will succeed where force does not. Swallowing your anger and making an attempt to communicate and iron things out is effective many times. Even when it is not, it reveals the strength in you. It takes strength to be the better man or woman in a conflict. This makes you a formidable power.

                  25. You are doing okay.

                  You are a good person. You are trying your best and you will make mistakes. Mistakes occur when you try new things. This is a good thing! Life is crazy, wild and unpredictable. No one has it all figured out. Half the fun is getting to know it and making it work for you. When you do this, you will have an unforgettable life.

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                    Chris Ellis

                    Successful Author, Life Coach and Musician

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                    Last Updated on November 11, 2019

                    Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

                    Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

                    A dysfunctional family is more than disagreement or constant arguments. Anything from plain neglect, to abuse and even verbal and physical violence is the everyday experience of those who are part of a dysfunctional family.

                    You know how this looks:

                    • Parents constantly comparing children.
                    • Siblings in conflict because of tolerated bullying.
                    • Domestic violence.
                    • Adultery…
                    • And many others.

                    For all the members, this will mean emotional pain and even trauma; which, in case it doesn’t get resolved, will have a detrimental effect on the individual’s personality and development.

                    Needless to say, the younger members are the most vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean the parents are out of danger, as most commonly the parents play the roles of abuser-codependent, and in some cases, both parts inflicting pain on one another.

                    Most like to think these problems stem from deep-seated issues, and that therefore it’s pretty much impossible to deal with them.

                    This is only true for families not willing to do what it takes, for if only a single member is determined and knows how to do it, the whole family can do a lot of progress.

                    In this article, I’ll break down for you the basic steps of fixing a dysfunctional family. Although it may seem hopeless, it is possible to turn things around.

                    If you have ever felt in this position, or if you know somebody who is, this article is for you.

                    How to fix a dysfunctional family

                    In a few words the solution for a dysfunctional family lies in dropping the ego, focusing on the solution, switching blame for responsibility and doing the work as a unity, for the good of the whole family.

                    And this will accomplish things you once only saw as a dream.

                    Dropping the ego? Switching blame for responsibility? Doing the work? What does all this mean?

                    It’s simple. In a nutshell, it’s that which will allow you to turn a dysfunctional family into a functional one.

                    Let’s take a look at how exactly this can be done. And near the end we will also talk about what you can do in a dysfunctional family with cynical traits.

                    Dysfunctional families where not only problems are well-known, but also nobody seems to want a fix or openly decide to perpetuate the harmful behaviors. Such as the case of abuse and physical violence.

                    There is also a solution for these, it’s just not what you are expecting…

                    Dysfunctional… Or just average?

                    Most families are dysfunctional, though at varying degrees of dysfunctionality.

                    The milder cases, are just marked by “typical” comically-shrouded bullying or lack of interest in other members’ development or wellbeing.

                    You can know a family is dysfunctional if their interactions are anything different than cooperation, solidarity, care and support. But let’s get more specific…

                    A dysfunctional family is one in which members directly or indirectly suffer emotional and/or physical harm inflicted by other members of their family. Most commonly, perpetrated by the parents.

                    Even harmful actions as “passive” as neglect, which is inflicted by inaction rather than action, signifies a dysfunction within the family.

                    Dysfunctional families have conflicts such as:

                    • Unrealistic expectations
                    • Lack of interest and time spent together
                    • Sexism
                    • Utilitarianism
                    • Lack of empathy
                    • Unequal or unfair treatment
                    • Disrespect towards boundaries
                    • Control Issues
                    • Jealousy
                    • Verbal and physical abuse
                    • Violence and even sexual misconduct or abuse

                    You may think a dysfunctional family has very little or nothing to do with personal productivity, but you would be wrong in thinking this way…

                    If a person is not emotionally well, she will not be able to perform as desired, as the emotional harm that has been inflicted will hinder everyday performance in the way of inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and low levels of inspiration, motivation and discipline.

                    Having a functional family does exactly the opposite: It creates productive members with no emotional baggage.

                    How to turn it around

                    When you’re part of a dysfunctional family you know it. You can quickly identify in other members the behaviors and conflicts that create the dysfunction.

                    But just in case you’re having trouble telling functional from dysfunctional I will tell you the following:

                    One of the easiest ways you can recognize if you are in a dysfunctional family is to survey your won feelings.

                    We often overlook this, but have you stopped to ask yourself how you feel?

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                    As cheesy as it may sound it really sheds a lot of light on the subject.

                    What behaviors, actions and attitudes in your family you wish were better?

                    Do you think certain behaviors and actions from your family marked you in the past?

                    Sadly, we cannot go back to the past to correct it. But we can do a lot in the present…

                    Correction is possible

                    In order to fix a dysfunctional family, you must start by putting an end to the behaviors and actions that are affecting you.

                    Verbalize it.

                    All members of the dysfunctional family have one issue in common: They don’t put a stop to the harm.

                    Whenever you feel your boundaries being overstepped there is just one single word you have to remember: STOP.

                    This is the door to a better, more functional family, because after this, comes the fix.

                    But first you have to identify and make others know where exactly lies the problem.

                    So go ahead and fearlessly start with “Stop”, followed by your expression of dissatisfaction.

                    Putting it to work in real life

                    In real life it would be something like this:

                    “OK, stop! Every time you belittle me I feel you don’t care. I need attention and respect, and it is your responsibility as my family to provide them to me”

                    Or:

                    “Stop. When you compare me with my cousin it hurts, I feel like I don’t matter and that’s not ok. I ask you to stop doing it.

                    Or:

                    “Please stop. When you start yelling all respect is lost and it turns into a battle of who can do it louder. Don’t raise your voice and let’s work this out the way humans do”.

                    As you can see, here you start by putting a stop to the toxic behavior when it arises. And afterwards you verbalize why it’s wrong and what needs of you need to be fulfilled.

                    This is what you have to remember:

                    1-Stop.

                    2-Why it’s wrong?

                    3-What you need.

                    And this will also work well in case you need to do it for another family member.

                    It’s a family thing

                    A dysfunctional family cannot be fixed by one member alone.

                    Yes, a single member can initiate progress and be the leader of the change. But in order to completely become functional all members must contribute to the solution.

                    In other words, you will need cooperation…

                    So don’t be afraid of asking for it!

                    Approach your family member and ask to be listened.

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                    We sometimes feel our needs are “not that important” or we simply believe they won’t listen. But thinking like this would be like being defeated at an unfought battle.

                    You will be amazed by how much people listen when you voice your needs, especially if it implies showing yourself open, vulnerable and in need.

                    It’s not a free-for-all battle

                    In order to get your family to cooperate, first you must fix your individual relationships with every member of the family. Remember: Relationships are always between two people, and two people only.

                    No matter how complex, the quality of a multi-member relationship (like a family) will always depend on the quality of the individual relationships.

                    Once you have straightened the relationship with every member of the dysfunctional family you will be able to better communicate with other members and help in the betterment of their individual relationship.

                    And this is where we will talk about the fix itself. The one I mentioned in the introduction…

                    The method

                    1. Drop the ego

                    Wherever there is conflict there is ego.

                    You cannot fix a relationship where there is ego, because the ego will want to win. Always. Yours and the other person.

                    Ego craves control and satisfaction, and in many cases, to establish dominance.

                    What does this have to do with a dysfunctional family? Everything. Ego will interfere with every plan you have to fix it.

                    It will make people suborn and defensive. And it will also make them drop responsibility. This is why, the first step is to drop the ego.

                    After you make sure you are not going to allow your ego to interfere you must work to make the other person do the same. How? By speaking from the heart…

                    Tell the other person how important all this is to you.

                    Tell the other person that it’s not a matter of arguing, but just working things out together.

                    Point out how it is not possible for you to do it alone.

                    And ask for sincere attention without any desire of opposition, because what you are doing is by no means in the hopes of harming the other person, but just to better the relationship and stop the damage being dealt to you.

                    You will have to point out the mistakes you need corrected, that’s for sure. And that leads me to the next point…

                    2. Not blame, but responsibility

                    When talking about others’ mistakes we often use an accusatory tone. And that’s natural, it’s what things should be like if ego was not present.

                    But since we are all creatures of ego, this immediately brings the shields up. And then unsheathes the swords…

                    When we blame others they automatically enter a defensive state, and this only leads to a failed negotiation.

                    What you need to do is to shift from blame to responsibility. And even that will have to be done carefully!

                    Instead of telling them off or demanding change or complaining, calmly point what the problem with their behavior is.

                    As much as this feels contradictory, also make them feel understood. You know how difficult it is to accept a mistake, so just make them feel it’s no big fuzz… which does not mean it’s ok, but it takes tension off.

                    You will do something like this:

                    “Hello dad. Can I talk with you for a minute? I really need to tell you something.

                    I have been feeling pretty sad lately and I know this is something you do care about.

                    You see, whenever I talk about my accomplishments you mention something else that makes my achievement pale in comparison.

                    I know you don’t do this intentionally and I know you might have not realized this until now, but I want to let you know this really brings me down.

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                    It would mean a lot to me if you could stop doing it, and it would help better our relationship, because this has already forced me to distance myself from you. And I don’t want that, I want a good, healthy relationship with you”

                    What happened here?

                    We started off with making it something important, something that needs both time and attention. Then we openly show ourselves vulnerable, just as we are.

                    We also mention why he should listen, and shove our feelings there again, because they are important.

                    We describe the issue with no attachment and with no hostile intention. It’s just a description.

                    And then we take the blame off. Just before we assign responsibility without actually saying it.

                    You are not blaming him directly, but you are pointing out the inevitable fact that his actions are causing a dysfunctionality. He is now responsible for changing.

                    This is what “switching blame for responsibility” means. What comes next? Doing the work!

                    3. Doing the work

                    What would any of this mean if, in the end, nothing changes? Exactly, nothing!

                    This is why you must follow up with every change that needs to be done.

                    Do so in a manner that is not hostile. Bring it up in a casual manner, and emphasizing how you both reached an agreement and how that is important to the family.

                    If the person doesn’t follow up don’t hesitate to bring it up again, and tell them you feel disappointed that your honest try at it was not listened.

                    It may even be a subject in itself, and therefore the need for another conversation.

                    “When you go back to old habits it shows that you didn’t really care about what I said. But back in real life you just reinforce how much contempt you show towards me and my feelings.

                    I talk with you because I care. Because although it would be easier for me to just distance myself from you I rather do my part in nurturing this relationship.

                    But there is just so much I can do, if you refuse to do your part I can do nothing else.”

                    You need very clear and positive communication in order to make this work.

                    Love is all you need

                    You must remember that in order for a dysfunctional family to become functional, all the work needs to stem from love.

                    That is the single one requirement for all this to work: Love.

                    And what happens if it simply is not there?

                    What happens if, nobody is willing to do what it takes?

                    What happens if a member of the family refuses to change and is happy with the harm he or she is dealing?

                    There is only one thing you can do:

                    To break away.

                    Let’s be honest, people, especially adults, are very difficult to change.

                    There is a Jewish proverb that I love, which sums it up like this:

                    “We spend the rest of our lives trying to unlearn what we learned before we were 7”

                    If you find it very hard to change the very traits that make your family dysfunctional or if it’s simply impossible, you still have a card up your sleeve…

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                    Although nobody likes to beak away from family members, we must remember we have a responsibility with ourselves as individuals, before any relationship with anyone.

                    You have the responsibility of making yourself happy and free. Because you matter as an individual, regardless of any relationships you have, be it family, friendship or romantic.

                    Putting distance

                    So in case you are dealing with a family member who is simply unwilling to change take both physical and emotional distance.

                    What do I mean?

                    Learn, first, to take their damage in a detached manner.

                    Don’t let it hurt you further. Instead take a deep breath and distance yourself emotionally.

                    Don’t be attached to feelings such as “Why doesn’t she love me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” or “If he wasn’t like that my life would be perfect”.

                    Simply refuse to keep participating in the emotional downward spiral and accept, even if it’s painful” that there is nothing you can do. Accept that even without that relationship you are whole, you are worthy of love and respect.

                    They are their responsibility and you are yours. So decide what is best for you.

                    Realize it only comes down to two possibilities:

                    I keep the relationship and therefore accept the abuse. Or…

                    I choose my peace of mind.

                    And don’t let your mind fool you. We often think that since we all are imperfect, we must take the good and the bad behaviors of people. And we are especially forgiving towards our family…

                    Well, guess what? We are also responsible adults who are aware and must own to their acts. Never excuse abuse or violence or transgression towards you or anybody else.

                    Choose your happiness and if possible, also distance yourself physically, as it will increase your peace of mind tenfold.

                    How to prevent it

                    There are two key concepts you must bear in mind in order to prevent the dysfunctionality of a family:

                    • To be completely aware of one’s own mistakes and not allow them to impact others and…
                    • To make sure our SO’s are also on the same channel before creating a family (i.e. having children)

                    Dysfunctional families are the product of irresponsible paternity, for the decades-long unresolved emotional conflict ends up surfacing in the family inevitably, and it will for sure harm those who least deserve it: Innocent children.

                    You may notice we went from talking about family, to talking about individual relationships, to talking about you. We went from “them” to “us” to “me”.

                    Why? Because in the end you have the power to fix a dysfunctional family. To correct the mistakes you have in yours and to prevent dysfunctionalities if you don’t have a family but plan to create one.

                    Priorities and clear thought

                    You may be part of a dysfunctional family, but that does not mean you are powerless or that you have to suffer the consequences.

                    You learned today how it’s all a matter of priorities and thinking clearly.

                    You learned that, if love exists, everything is possible. You learned that even when there is no love and no fix for your dysfunctional family, there are still things you can do. It’s a matter of choosing your peace, because you deserve it.

                    Everything will be better if you apply this knowledge. If you talk to that problematic family member. If you help them see the harm they are doing. If you make sure they do change and treat you the way you need to be treated…

                    If you choose yourself over that toxic family member. If you refuse to justify the harm that others can do to yourself. If you realize the most important relationship you have is with yourself.

                    And lastly, that you also have to be aware of your actions and be open to criticism. Because we might be unknowingly harming others. And that would be us creating a dysfunctionality. Don’t allow it to happen.

                    Dysfunctional families are not impossible to fix. It just takes love, cooperation and responsibility.

                    But if you tried and those elements are not present, just choose yourself instead.

                    Featured photo credit: Xavier Mouton Photographie via unsplash.com

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