by Caitlin Koppelman

What’s the deal with being 30? Why does culture seem to press in on us to “have our lives together” by the time we reach this milestone? We’re told that college is the appropriate time to “find yourself”. There even seems to be a few years’ post-college where we’re allowed a “grace-period” to wrap up some last-minute things, but once we blow out those 30 candles: our Success-O-Meter had better be well on it’s way to 100%.

But, what does it mean to be successful? Somewhere along the way, most of us begin to look at the people and forces around us to tell us what success looks like: money, prestige, power… But what if we redefined success? What if we set goals for growth in different segments of our lives and let those things define our movement, instead of being pushed around by every wind and whim of culture?

I would never conclude that any of the aforementioned goals are bad. Money is simply a tool – not bad or good in its own right, but it’s all about what you do with it. Prestige (respect) and Power aren’t negatives either, but there are certainly two ways to carry these things. Our world seems to value arrogance and pride even though that’s not the only way to convey respect and power. For example: what if the most prestigious leaders led in humility and as public servants? Wouldn’t that be a lofty goal for a 30-something person!

I will say that some in this 18-30 age range seem to take pride in a lack of development. To that mindset, I would point out that your life is what you make of it. No one is obligated to create your life for you. Don’t wait for someone else to move first so you can follow them.

To those in my generation, looking to make their mark on the world, may I offer a bit of advice? Set Goals. Not cliché goals, but rather the kind that really shape your decisions. Think about who you want to be, what you want to do, what you want to offer society, and set goals accordingly. Let the things you value speak through your goals. Put some time frames on them and then set some simple steps to get there. Reaching for specific goals gives purpose and focus to where you point your resources: time, money, energy – the world tells us how we should spend those, but what if you let your values and your dreams point you in a direction and then pressed your resources into those purposes?

It is possible to be 30 and successful, but it won’t happen on accident, and what culture thinks is successful won’t fulfill you. Your life is what you make of it. Start building!

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