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Why Today’s 30s Are Not the New 20s

Why Today’s 30s Are Not the New 20s

The popular mindset these days is that the 30s are the new 20s. This can work as an excuse for many people, telling them they don’t have to grow up yet because there will be time for that later. People are getting married later, finding steady jobs later, not opening retirement accounts or making property investments until they’re older, and more. As a result, people might think of their 20s as a time to do whatever they choose, and wait until their 30s to start getting serious about life. This can be detrimental to one’s maturity and personal development.

Getting married after high school, or even in your 20s, is a trend that is starting to fade away in popularity. This means there’s less pressure to settle down and have everything figured out at a younger age, which is a great relief because it gives people time to figure out what they really want out of life. It seems more possible now to find happiness in life because you have time to find the right career, home, and relationship for you, instead of having to settle down when you’re younger and know less about the world.

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I used to think that I’d have everything figured out by the time I was in college. Instead, I took a year off after high school because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I went to a university for a year, then switched to a community college to quickly get a practical degree because I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. It was frustrating to me that adults expected me to know what I wanted from my life, and to be well on the path on accomplishing that dream. Even though I didn’t know what I wanted, I made sure to not stay stagnant. I didn’t want to be a bum, wasting time until my purpose came to me in a flash of brilliance. I got a two year degree that would help me get employed more than any other degrees I would later pursue—and it was a career I had never considered before!

I think it’s important to give students time to pick what they want to study, especially as competition for jobs grows and degrees mean less. These days, experience means more than a piece of paper, so it can be more beneficial to work in the field, or even have an apprenticeship, than to just get a degree. I think it’s more important for people to explore their options and try different jobs for shorter periods of time than to immediately commit to something that might not be the right job. While you don’t need to commit to one particular career in your 20s, it’s important to be laying the groundwork for your future. Study different things in school, and test the waters of different jobs so that once you’re older and ready to settle down, you’re going to get exactly what you want.

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As far as relationships go, taking it slow and knowing what you want is always important. Love is an intoxicating emotion, and it’s easy to be swept away in it. If you’re not concerned with getting married while you’re young, then you can explore relationships to their full extent, but still be free to live your own life. Being committed too young can be detrimental to both individuals in a relationship because they’re compromising their own hopes and dreams, as well as their personal lives. That doesn’t mean you should date around in your 20s just to do it, but you should feel free to explore the possibilities of different relationships. If you find the right person and you’re sure of it, that’s great! But there’s nothing wrong with being in a few relationships and learning what you want when you’re older and ready to settle down and start a family.

You might not know what you want right now, regardless of your age. The world is so open to possibilities that it’s a little easier to start a new career, or take courses online to continue your education. There has been an influx of older people re-entering the job force, and while it creates more job competition, it’s also refreshing to know you’ll always have the possibility for freedom and change later in life. Even so, it’s important to not throw away your 20s as a time to party and be immature, and to lay the groundwork to settle down and be successful in your 30s.

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There’s a great TED Talk by clinical psychologist Meg Jay that further explores the idea that your 20s should not be a throwaway decade of your life. Check it out here!

Featured photo credit: Kyle Sullivan via flickr.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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