I’m turning a quarter of a century old in a couple of months and there are things that I really thought I would be doing at this point in my life. There are also some things I really didn’t think I would still be doing or haven’t done yet.
As we’re growing and evolving as more emotionally intelligent humans – we’re moving past this ideology of the set timeline, but for some people, it’s all they dream about. They live for the idea of being at a place in life at certain points. Take getting married and having children for example. Most people crave that and want it by their mid-20’s. Others dream about being beyond successful in their careers by the age of 30. While it’s certainly possible to create these outcomes, it’s also a lot of pressure we put on ourselves. We’re all on different timelines, different paths, and different outcomes.
When I began researching this topic I kept finding lists of ‘X Things You Should do Before 25’ and all the lists pretty much said the same things. In fact, I think someone made a list a very long time ago and everyone else just copied it and changed a few buzz words here and there. Scoop Whoop, Buzzfeed, and Huffpost had some great lists that you can go item by item and check off. While I was reading I kept thinking that I’ve done most of these things, some not, but which of these is actually important to me or going to help me?
I’m sure my dad would love if I took more time to maintain my vehicle or learn how to do my taxes. My mom would be shocked if I ever ran a 5k or hosted a dinner party. And I know my friends would probably come along with me if I took an international trip or attended all the music festivals. All of things are great experiences and skills to have, but are they beneficial? Are they guiding me correctly through my journey in life? Are these activities going to lead me down the timeline that I am setting for myself?
Here’s my conclusion: I can do all the things on these lists and live life to the fullest, no regrets, whatever – but if I am not actively pursuing some of my goals and giving myself a deadline to accomplish them – then all these experiences and skills become wasted. They don’t give me an edge or advantage to how I am making my personal deadlines if they aren’t intentional in their beginnings.
You could spend your whole life being a good person, but if you are not actively pursuing your goals/dreams/timelines – then what good of a person are you? What are you contributing to yourself and the world around you? Don’t sit idly by and wade in the water – dive in! Submerge yourself in your dreams, but do it wisely.
Set manageable deadlines for yourself
Do: Save $1,000 in the next 6 months, take yourself out on a date once a month for a year, or read 10 books in the next 10 months. These things are possible, give room for error, and are easy to manage. These feats are slight edge material type goals.
Don’t: Save $10,000 in the next 6 months, take yourself out on a date every night, or read 10 books in 10 weeks. These things are ridiculous! You might be able to do them, but what good would it do you? You wouldn’t have time for any other dates with friends or family and you’d spend that $10,000 all on yourself and on top of that all your other time would be filled with reading.
Creating attainable checkpoints on your timeline is something we can all do. It isn’t something we have to accomplish by a certain age. You don’t have to do this and more all by twenty-four. Take your time creating these attainable goals and be mindful of the impact they’ll have on your life while you’re pursuing them.
Be intentional with your goals
There are plenty of goals that you can make for yourself that are easy to do, but are they beneficial? I mean, I can make one of my goals to eat at every Chick-fil-A in the nation, but what good does that do me?
Being intentional means to be purposeful in your words and your actions.
Create goals for yourself that have purpose and meaning behind them! For example, I love writing and I (not-so-secretly) have always wanted to be a published writer. So, I ask myself, how do I get there? I could write in secret journals my whole life, never share it with anyone, and then 12 years after I die do I just hope that someone Anne Frank’s me and publishes all my work? No, sorry, that isn’t how this works, girlfriend.
Creating these milestones on my timeline mean I have to work towards them and while I’m working I want to gain some personal development. For example: If one of my goals is to publish a book then on my journey there I should take the time to write every day, but my writing should be leading up to my goal. Make sense? I could sit and write romantic stories that middle aged women like to read on the beach, but that isn’t what I want my book to be about, so why would I waste time in writing that?
Be intentional when you create your goals so that your timeline benefits you in the absolute best way.
Celebrate Small Victories
We’re too hard on ourselves, or at least I am. I give myself so very little credit for all the things I’ve accomplished at 25. There is no perfect timeline, so we should be celebrating the small victories we achieve every day.
Getting out of bed? There’s been lulls of depression in my life where this seemed almost impossible. Now, waking up at 6:30 every day doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but it is!
Finishing a project? You go, girl. There’s nothing more satisfying that hitting the done button on a big (or small) project. Celebrate that moment by treating yourself to whatever your indulgence is in.
Speaking your truth? Preach it. Stop holding yourself back on true feelings because you’re afraid of what people will think or say back to you. Own your opinions and when you express them, celebrate them as well.
There’s a multitude of books, blogs, podcasts, and Instagram posts on this topic and I encourage you to find them and pursue their advice. The perfect timeline does not truly exist, so be mindful in creating and celebrating yours.