Be honest with me.
Have you ever thought to yourself something along the lines of, “I’m so not where I’m supposed to be”?
Maybe you’ve looked around at your friends and peers, who are getting married, having babies, starting businesses, excelling in their careers, and thought to yourself, “I want that. I feel so left behind”.
I know the feeling.
On the evening of my 29th birthday, after a beautiful evening of drinks and dinner with friends, I remember coming home and just feeling OFF. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something felt missing.
The reality is, while my life was great, I’d largely been living and basing my choices on what I felt I was “expected” to do.
Since that day, I’ve embarked on a journey of self-discovery, uncovering my passion for coaching. I now coach other 30-somethings how to ditch the ‘shoulds’, throw out their timelines, and create the life of their dreams. I spent a good few years digging deep, reflecting, and thinking to myself, “What do I REALLY want my life to look like?”
When my 1-1 clients start working with me, we often begin our coaching sessions off with discussing what I like to call their Turning 30 Manual.
Understanding your Turning 30 Manual is the first step in creating a more empowering story for yourself and beginning a new chapter of self-discovery.
What Is a Turning 30 Manual?
So, to start off, what exactly IS a Turning 30 Manual?
The Manual is a set of instructions for how we believe our life should look by the time we reach 30. These instructions are based on what society says about turning 30, things we’ve absorbed from friends and family, and our general perception of the world.
Often, our Manual instructions revolve around reaching a certain level of financial or career success (whether those are entrepreneurial aspirations or climbing a career ladder), being married or in a committed relationship, starting a family, or even buying a home or property. Your Turning 30 Manual might be one or a combination of these things, collectively creating a vision for how you expected your life to unfold.
We may subconsciously start developing our Turning 30 Manual at a young age, however, the Manual usually becomes cemented as we approach our late teens or early twenties.
Here’s the thing about the Manual. Our adoption of it is usually entirely unconscious. You may have not even realized you had a Manual until you started reading this post, but I can assure you, it’s always been there!
What this means is that the ideas we have around turning 30 are not always our own. And, depending on what your life looks like as you approach 30, the Manual can feel incredibly disempowering.
I want to share four steps to help you harness your Manual, turn it into a story that makes you feel GOOD about where you’re at, and gets you excited about your new chapter. Let’s go!
Step 1: Awareness
The first step to changing your Turning 30 Manual is to become aware you have one in the first place.
Ask yourself questions like:
Where did I genuinely think I would be right now?
What did I expect my life to look like?
You can pull out a journal and spend some time gaining awareness around your Manual. For all my journaling lovers, be sure to check out my FREE Turning 30 Journal, too. [LINK]
Maybe what you thought you wanted isn’t in fact what you want at all. Maybe it’s what your family wanted for you, what your peer group is doing, or maybe the pressure to go in that direction is coming from your culture or your religion.
This is what happened to me when it came to career choice. When I was deciding what career to pursue, I knew, deep down in my heart that I wanted to be a psychologist. But my entire peer group was becoming lawyers, accountants, bankers (you know the drill), and I didn’t want to stray from the crowd.
Get clear on the instructions your Manual holds so we can move forward to rewrite a more empowering version.
Step 2: Reflection
Step two is to get clear on the ACTUAL journey of your twenties.
And then also ask yourself: why did I think that?
Did I genuinely want those things, or were they in my Manual because of social conditioning?
Do I still want those things now?
You’re most likely at the point where the 3-5 things you expected to happen didn’t pan out for you...so, what happened instead? What were the twists and turns of your journey?
Think about those plot twists and how they influenced you to get to where you are today.
Again, you can reflect in your journal or even pick up the phone and call a friend. Either way, take some time to really think about the great things you have done in your twenties DESPITE not sticking to your manual. I want you to tune in to the friends you’ve made and the experiences you’ve gained because your twenties were supposed to be exactly as they were as this will help you with the next step...
Step 3: Acceptance
In order to rewrite our Manual, we first need to accept where we are in this moment. We’ll never be able to feel happy and excited for the future until we accept the present.
Even if your twenties didn’t go exactly as planned, can you find a way to be grateful for where they got you?
Rather than playing negative thoughts on a loop in your mind such as “I’m so left behind”, I encourage you to adopt the mantra, “I’m exactly where I need to be”.
Whenever you feel yourself comparing yourself to others, or getting into victim mode, try to repeat that mantra to yourself. You’ve learned SO much from your past experiences, and they’ve gotten you to where you are today.
When we can shift from “life is happening TO me” to “life is happening FOR me”, we become better equipped to shape our life from a place of abundance and alignment.
Step 4: Rewrite Your Manual / Turn Your Manual into a Guide
The fourth and final step is to take control of your story and begin to rewrite the Manual. Once we’ve become aware of our Manual, we’ve reflected on our current reality, and we’ve accepted and found gratitude for our past, we can begin to move forward.
Please believe me when I tell you: you are not your past.
You are not the things that happen to you.
And it is NOT too late to make every last one of your wildest dreams come true.
This is the step where you tell yourself, “Okay, I might not be exactly where I want to be, but I am exactly where I NEED to be in order to start making some big life changes. I’ve learned SO much throughout my twenties, and everything that’s happened to me happened for a reason. Let’s make a plan so I can live out my goals.”
This is where you can control and come up with an action plan to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.
Maybe it’s always been your DREAM to start a business. To rewrite your Manual, you might decide to *finally* invest in that business coach or course and commit to launching a Beta version of your business within 90 days.
On the other hand, you might know that you strongly desire a partnership. In order to start working towards that, maybe you take inventory of your past relationships, seeing what well, what didn’t, and getting clear on what you’re truly looking for in a partner.
When we set ourselves the expectations of instruction manuals for how our lives are supposed to be, we feel like failures when we don’t reach them. But when we write ourselves a Guide instead, we can reach our goals but not let them define us. We don’t get attached to the stories of what our progress towards timelines mean. This is the true essence of being able to rewrite your Turning 30 story.
There are SO many ways you can take control of your story and begin to re-write your Turning 30 Manual. These are just a few!
In my new group program “The Next Chapter: Reclaim Your 30's” that is launching this month, we dive into how to re-write your Thirty Manuals and to live a life that feels right FOR YOU.
To sign up to the waitlist to be the first to hear when I launch, send your email to me by clicking here.