How to not regret your 30s

About eight months ago, there was a Reddit thread around the question “For those of you 40 or above, what do you regret about your 30s?” Check it out here – it’s definitely worth a read if you don’t mind sifting through a lot of random replies.

The most resonant reply for me was the person who said not to worry about the “shoulds.” I ‘should’ be married by now, I ‘should’ have a  high-paying job by now, I ‘should’ have children by now, etc. Only recently have I started to become more comfortable with ignoring the “shoulds” in my own life. For me though, the “shoulds” I’m concerned about are more day-to-day life stuff – for example, when I tell myself I ‘should’ attend a social function when I really don’t want to.

As I’ve gotten older, I try to do things that bring me joy. If I don’t want to go to a loud party that starts at 10pm because I want to curl up with a good book and drink a glass of wine, then that’s what I do. Same with hanging out with people who don’t make me feel happy or good about myself. I used to tell myself that I ‘should’ spend time with a person, simply because he or she asked me to. Like, ooooh…someone wants to hang out with ME, I have to say yes, because what if I say no and then I don’t get the opportunity to socialize again?! Clearly, that was low self-esteem speaking and something I should analyze in therapy sometime. Thankfully I’m past that stage and now, if someone asks me to hang out and I feel ‘I should want to’ rather than ‘Yay! I want to!’ – I don’t say yes. Time is too valuable these days.

Speaking of time, I loved this commenter’s (handle: mustlovecash) ‘regret’ and advice for us 30-somethings:

Living in a shallow blur, by doing too many things adequately vs. a few meaningful things really, really well. Multitasking is an oxymoron, and your inbox will always be full – that is it’s job. But being excellent in a few cherished things (playing piano, skiing, photography, whatever) gives a lasting reward.

And, overall, one of the most recurring ‘regrets’ in the thread was not saving enough money or not maxing out your 401K options from employers. Laura has talked a lot about saving money on this blog and if you haven’t already started an IRA or Roth IRA, start your research here.

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