Should You Get Your Life Together By Age 30?

This post was written by Abbie Van Wagner (freelance writer) on behalf of Dr. Dave Maslach for the R3ciprocity project (check out the YouTube Channel or the writing feedback software).

In a world where it’s easy to get swept up in what you “should” be doing, many of us are left wondering if we’re on schedule with getting our lives together. Whether you’re in academia, entering the workforce, or just looking at your personal life and relationships, you’re most likely constantly forced to compare yourself to others while competing with some ambiguous internal clock. 

But what does “getting your life together” mean, anyway? 

So many people believe that life and achievements should be a linear pattern and everyone needs to follow the same path – high school, college, relationship, marriage, higher education, career, and so on. 

Take it from someone who’s made it past 30 and now has the benefit of hindsight – the entire concept of “getting your life together” is complete utter nonsense. 

Now, let’s discuss some of the reasons why the whole idea of having your life together by a certain time is a myth (and a bad one, at that). 

We Live in a Non-Binary, Non-Linear World

Despite the constant messaging that everyone else around you has a perfect life (we’re looking at you, Instagram!), the fact of the matter is that everyone is on their own path and timeline. 

So, even though you may feel like if you don’t have your life together by the time you’re 25, you’re already behind, the truth is that most other people feel that way, too – even the ones that really do have their lives together. 

That pressure doesn’t stop when you hit 30, either. There are plenty of folks in their forties, fifties, sixties, and beyond that have ambiguous milestones set for where they’re suddenly supposed to come online and have all their poker chips fall into place. 

But what I’ve learned is that even when those milestones come and go, we’re all still here. The world didn’t crumble around us, regardless of how “together” our life is (or isn’t).

Life isn’t black and white, right or wrong, good or bad. Human experiences are like stepping stones that build on one another. Life is a learning process that moves in all directions, across all planes, not just onward like a freight train running down the tracks.

Life is a Continuous Learning Process

As humans, we’re fortunate enough to be able to learn from past experiences and change our future decisions and actions based on the information we have available at the time. Sometimes, that works in our favor, and other times – not so much. 

But, regardless of the outcome, we’re still moving in a direction where we have greater knowledge than we did yesterday, which puts us in a better position to understand where we’re going tomorrow.

Because of the continuous stream of information and experiences that we constantly gather, there is no single moment where our life is suddenly “together” or when it’s completely fallen apart. 

Even when life gets thrown off track or you find yourself in a place you didn’t expect, you have the opportunity to learn to cope and respond to the situation you’re in presently. For example, if you find yourself in a bad financial situation related to your own overspending, you have the ability to take a step back and examine what you did, why, and how you can change course to make better decisions moving forward. 

That’s the great thing about the human mind and behaviors – we have control of our path based on our ability to continuously learn and adapt to our lives in real-time.

Getting Your Life Together is a Decision-Making Process

You have the potential to have your life be in total shambles for decades and then one day make a decision to change course based on your experiences and knowledge. You have the power to completely turn your path around in another direction by learning from the past and planning for the future.

Because of that dynamic, there’s never truly a moment where your life is completely, 100% “together.” There’s always the potential to learn new things and make changes for the better.

Even those of us who think that everything is going fine have the potential to wake up in a completely different situation. Lives can change overnight, for better or for worse, and it’s up to you to apply your life experiences and continue to build toward your future, whatever it may be.

The ability to deal with “life” and cope with the world around us is one of the biggest challenges we face as humans, especially when we co-exist with so many others around us. The people we care about become entwined in our stories, and we become invested in theirs. Still, there is so much knowledge to be gained as we make choices and move through life. 

Getting Your Life Together Requires Being Focused On Yourself

As much joy, knowledge, and love as we can gain from people around us, there is also a level of negative energy that comes with being social creatures. Conformity is within our evolutionary drive, but getting your life together will eventually require breaking free of the need to keep up and compete with other people in your social circle.

There will come a time in your life when you feel like you’re letting someone down or where you feel like you’re not living up to the expectations of those who matter to you. Being able to cope with that feeling and – as Elsa says, let it go – is paramount to sustaining a life that you’re content with. 

Understand that no one really cares about the things that you probably get hung up on the most. Having the bigger house, the nicer car, the higher-paying job – those things don’t really matter in the long run when it comes to truly having your life together in the sense of being happy within your own existence. 

Remember, you are NOT in competition with anyone!

You Can Get Your Life Together and Still Not Have it Together

Something that many people struggle with is what happens after you do the things you feel like you’re “supposed” to do. For example, if you get the degree you always wanted, land your dream job, have a successful career, a family, or whatever it is that you feel like you “should” be doing, you may still feel like – “what now?” at the end of all that. 

Really, this is the biggest piece of evidence that the concept of getting your life together on a certain schedule or in a specific way is nonsense. 

There are plenty of ways for you to continue to become fulfilled and keep learning and growing all throughout life, no matter where you’re at or what you’re doing at the present time.

Change happens incrementally for most people, so it’s important to remember that whatever you do probably won’t change your whole life overnight. The most critical thing is to continue to work on the process, and if you’re working toward making changes for the better and improving yourself, you’re constantly moving in the right direction. 

Even if you’re in your 40s, 50s, or beyond, it’s not too late to pursue your dreams. 

You Shouldn’t Ever Have Your Life All the Way Together, Really

It might sound crazy to say that you shouldn’t ever have your life together, but what I mean is that you should never feel like you’re done or that you don’t have more to learn or give. There’s no set age for anyone to have their life together, as every person makes their way through life on their own timeline and in their own way. 

No matter if you’re twenty, thirty, fifty, sixty, or eighty, you still have so much more you can do if you have the desire and choose to. You can always continue learning new things and reflecting on your past experiences. 

The important thing is not to give up, even if you want to (which many people will).

So, to say you should be in a specific place in your life or be doing certain things by age 30 is ridiculous. If that were true, the world would be an extremely boring place. Plenty of people continue to do all kinds of great things throughout their entire lifespan, so don’t cut yourself short by giving up before you’ve even started. 

Think about who you are now and who you were ten years ago. The two people would probably be quite different from one another. The same will likely be true ten years from now. Instead of thinking about having your life together by a certain time or before you reach a certain age, focus on growing as an individual throughout your lifetime. 

Think about investing in each experience you have and gaining all the knowledge you can from it. Learn from everyone you meet, and change course if you need to. 

There’s nothing wrong with realizing you made a mistake yesterday and making a different decision today. As long as you’re learning, you’re growing. And, as long as you’re growing, you’re still on your way to having your life together. 

Anyone who tells you they have their life together 100% probably isn’t telling you the truth, anyway.

Key Questions and Takeaways:

  • What are the things that drive you in life? Understanding your motivators beyond external and social pressure will help you direct your life in a meaningful way. Plenty of people have turned dreams into careers by having the courage to follow their hearts. 

For example, If you’re one of those would-be entrepreneurs with a great idea that inspires you, but you feel like you just can’t do it, check out this video

  • Remember, life is about the journey not the destination. The sooner you realize this, the better off you’ll be. It doesn’t matter so much about where you end up or how long it takes you to get there. What’s important is what you learn and the path you take along the way. 

Don’t be afraid to try new things. The things that frighten us the most can sometimes be the most rewarding. Whether it’s going back to school, quitting one job to look for something that gives you fulfillment, or focusing on yourself instead of others, doing things differently can be a great thing. Check out this video from Dave which discusses the value of trying new things.

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