The 6 Habits of Happy Thirtysomethings

The media loves to paint a portrait of the frazzled thirtysomething rushing to work, taking care of the kids and having time for a dwindling social life.  The reality is, well, not far off at times. But there are a lot of us finding peace in our thirties and learning to really find out what’s important and how we can have a happy life.  Here are a few of those secrets revealed by those who have embraced their 30s and are adulting in style.

They care about their health

Exercise energizes us and shakes up those happy hormones such as endorphins. Proper nutrition gives us enough of the nutrients and vitamins that help us to de-stress, keep a stable mood, and have enough energy to play when we get home from work.  Plus, prioritizing both exercise and nutrition is not only a way to fight aging and stress, it’s also how we honour ourselves.  Self-love goes a long way any time you’re up against the pressures you find in your thirties.  Get your sweat on and remember s’all good.

They don’t compare themselves to others

It’s so tempting to look at more successful, younger people and criticize ourselves about not measuring up.  It seems to be a natural thing that we do and the only consolation is the saying, “We all run our own race.” But happy thirtysomethings know where they’ve been and appreciate where they are because of the great experiences they’ve had.  When the feelings of jealously or self-deprecation come up, they are able to quickly remind themselves of all they’ve accomplished and how everything was delicately woven together to bring them all the gifts they’ve been given in life. 

A lot of this is often due to a regular gratitude practice or purposeful mindfulness throughout the day. It also comes from regularly taking stalk throughout the year and analyzing accomplishments and new goals to set.  And when all else fails, they tattoo the expression on their wrist. (Sorry, GenX- hipster joke).

They take risks

Anyone who says they’re stuck is more likely being indecisive. When we look at our options, we need to feel the fear but act anyway. This is the risk.  Risk can be one of the scariest notions for thirtysomethings because, often, we have a lot to lose. 

But, we also have a lot to gain. 

Happy thirtysomethings know that a little risk goes a long way. They know that there’s still time to work things out if it goes wrong.  They’ve come to a place where a little risk could mean more, not less or lack, for their family. 

It also doesn’t hurt that Nike introduced a new slogan in 1988, making thirtysomethings now the ‘Just Do It generation.’

They really listen to music

In a Huffington Post article on the habits of Supremely Happy People, “They value a good mixtape,” made the list for a very good reason. In a three-month study, researchers from the Group Health Research Institute discovered decreased symptoms of anxiety, comparable to those who had ten hour-long massages.  My guess is that these people were really listening and not just zoning out on their commute. 

So throw on the headphones and put on your jam.  It may even be time to dig out the memory box and find some of the songs that transport you back to high school or university, just to add to the appreciation for who you were, who you are now, and how far you’ve come.

They have a plan (to not seek approval)

There’s nothing more spirit-crushing than having a plan or an idea and having it stomped on.  No wait – What’s actually crappy about that is when you actually care what anyone else thinks about your idea. 

Consider this from Jen Sincero’s book, You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life:

Would you be offended if someone kept making

fun of how short you were if you were six feet tall?

We’re not affected by things that we don’t buy into ourselves.  So the trick is to know your path, have faith in it and you’ll have the confidence to go forward no matter what anyone says.  If you aren’t sure of your idea or yourself then you’re leaving yourself vulnerable, and leaving room for naysayers and doubt to creep in.  Stay strong and you’ll be impervious.

Luckily, in our thirties we start to get a lot more sure of ourselves and more comfortable in our skin, so this whole step begins to get a lot easier as time goes on.

They care about the company they keep

Thanks to many great speakers, it’s pretty much common knowledge that we are all a sum of the 5 people we hang around with most – this even goes for the salary we make!  In other words, take a look at the 5 people you hang around most and what they earn, the success of their relationships, the level of their health and happiness, and you might realize you’re looking into a real-life mirror. 

If you don’t like what you see, you may have to expand your circle of friends.  This doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to people you love, but if you want to know how wealthier people live, you need to check out what they do differently.  If your health is suffering, it could be because your current group likes to hang at the pub too much.  Another group might be at the juice bar instead and can teach you a thing or two about healthy Friday night fun.

I’d love to hear how you’re looking for or how you’ve found happiness in your thirties. Please comment here or on Facebook.

And if you’re having a tough time finding happiness and peace in your thirties, let’s talk.  Get in touch for a FREE strategy session at support@ashewoodward.com.  Find out more HERE

What One 20-something Thinks of 30.

I can’t get this song out of my head.  It’s called, 7 Years by Lukas Graham.  I usually don’t like this kind of music but the melody is so catchy and his voice reminds me a little of Michael Jackson – and who doesn’t like Michael Jackson?

The song is about Graham (I assume) growing up and the different stages of life.  At “7 years old,” he says, “It was a big big world, but I thought we were bigger/Pushing each other to the limits I thought we were even quicker.”  I love how he paints the picture of himself as an ambitious kid who’s learning and growing and looking up to his parents. 

Then, at “11 years old,” he starts learning even more about life and he starts, “writing stories,” which again I assume means his songs.  And this song definitely is a story, progressing every few years and mentioning everything he learns at different stages with a melody that has been an ear worm for days!

At this point, I’m hooked.  The melody is catchy and the message is inspiring and I feel like the momentum is building. Such a fun song to do the dishes with or play ukulele to.

Graham hits 20 years old and his “story got told,” and he continues to inspire: 

I only see my goals, I don’t believe in failure

Cause I know the smallest voices, they can make it major

In reality, Graham is 23, so this is his current stage and present message.  And even in other interviews he seems to have this same go-getter, positive attitude that’s really inspiring.

But then I hear it,

“Soon I’ll be 30 years old,” my ears perk up.  I can’t wait to hear what he’s going to say about 30, and I almost feel a bit of a mama bear instinct in me wanting to growl, “Be careful what you say, boy.”

But it’s okay, I think he’s got it.  At the very least, he’s saying what everyone generally thinks about 30:

I’m still learning about life [yasss!]

My woman brought children for me

So I can sing them all my songs

And I can tell them stories

I breathe a sigh of relief, “Phew!” Not so bad.  I love that he acknowledges that we are all still learning in our thirties, but that we also have experiences to pass on at the same time. This is exactly why I love this time of life and helping people navigate it.  There’s a lot we have to work with in this decade but also so much room for amazing growth and success.

But then I hear it,

“Soon I’ll be 60 years old.”

What?!  You skipped 30 years in there, Graham!  Is that what you think?  After 30 it’s just all the same until you’re 60? !

I calm down, mostly because the song is still going and I really can’t stress enough that this is a really catchy song.

I remember that he’s pretty normal – it’s what most people think.  And this is why I do what I do.  So many of us in our thirties are even guilty of thinking the same:  We get a job and try and hold steady until retirement and maybe then we can be happy.

Later, Graham wonders if he’ll find happiness or cynicism actually at 60 when he sings, “Will I think the world is cold/Or will I have a lot of children who can warm me?”

I guess, in the end, the song is a reminder to continuously wonder about life and try to keep friends and family close so you’re not lonely.  And even though I would have liked to hear what he thinks 40 and 50 are about, I know the song shouldn’t be 10 minutes long for good radio play. And, in the end, the song is mostly positive and has a cute storyline. 

I’ll give him a pass – even if I just can’t stop singing it!

Watch the video HERE to get this song stuck in your head too.

Getting to Know Our 2 Kinds of Fear

When I realized that I was on a path to a life that I didn’t really want anymore, it was terrifying.  I had just turned 30 and if felt like I had nothing to show for my years and it seemed like I was still pretty far away from where I wanted to be.

I had spent most of my twenties on a path to be a university professor.  I went to university, took extra courses, volunteered, learned Latin, and even lived and taught abroad to learn Spanish and get teaching experience.  Plus, I was using the Law of Attraction pretty hard all along the way.

But the week of my 30th birthday, I got news that I wasn’t getting in to the grad school of my dreams.  And I didn’t get in the next year either.  Did I really want to try again or was it time to start something new?

I always thought that if I just stayed in school, everything would work out because the path and the plan would always be set out for me: Undergrad, Masters, PhD, professor, tenure, retire, die. Easy.

But starting something on my own meant that there was no set path and this was both horrifying and freeing at the same time.  Plus, wasn’t I just giving up too easily?  What about all the time and money I had spent in my twenties beefing up my resume and schmoozing with potential references?   Wasn’t it plain stupid to just walk away?

But every day, as I thought of it more and more, the answer became more clear and I had to just let it go. 

I finally realized that part of why I wanted to be a professor in the first place was that I wanted to write and teach.  After a lot of meditation and hours Googling, I discovered that maybe I could write and teach as a coach.  Now, you think I’d be thrilled but, actually, I felt even worse.  I found every way to put myself down because I should have realized it 8 years earlier.  This created so much more doubt in myself that I almost quit the whole idea right there, thinking I should just stay safe and keep my day job.

A few months later, I finally got over the shoulda, coulda, wouldas, and I was able to see all the possibilities of the business I could create and the people I could help.  So, you’d think I would be filled with amazing motivation and drive, right? No.  I was filled with fear and doubt and more insecurity than ever. 

But it was also during this time that I had one of my biggest ‘ahas’.

When I was applying for grad school, I was in agony.  It was a really trying process and I felt like throwing up every day.  I had no backup plan if it didn’t work, plus I was pretty sure I was about to have no life once I was back in school and paying back a ridiculous amount of tuition loans.  That was fear at its most unkind.  But I thought that I had to power through to get to the good stuff on the other side – ten or so years down the line.

Creating a new business with my name on it and my ideas running through it was scary too BUT it was a different kind of fear because I also felt excited.  I knew it would be hard, but I also saw how fun it would be. I didn’t feel like throwing up – I felt like jumping up and down on my couch every time I had a new idea about what I could create.

I wouldn’t be tied down to a semester or exam schedule.  I could make my own hours, I could doodle all over my notebooks, I could even write in the first person!

So, you’d think I would be excited to tell everyone about my new plan, right? Nope.

I didn’t want to tell anyone.  There was even a part of me that still didn’t want to admit that I wanted to start this up.  Again, I almost gave up when I realized I would actually have to tell other people.  More fear…

And then finally…

Excitement.

There it was.  The clue to telling me what kind of fear I needed to follow for growth and reaching new successes – not the kind of fear that tells me to stay away from particular people, neighbourhoods, or certain higher education programs.

So, I created my business, following my good fears and avoiding the bad ones.  I knew from my Law of Attraction training that you always want to feel good and it tells you you’re on the right path.  This was the “good fear” that everyone was talking about. This is the one I needed to listen to because it was a clue to where my soul really wanted me to go.  And this kind of fear created such a buzz in my system because it was so excited it could burst and had to be strong enough to bust those initial doubts and persist. 

What I thought was “good fear” in my early days of university was actually a very superficial “good” – I thought it was good because it was a sensible plan, but in actuality, I didn’t feel great about it.  Oh, hindsight!

This week is my second year in my coaching business for people starting over in their 30s and I’ve decided to put out a new ebook on this very topic of fear, doubt and starting over.  Check it out for FREE this Friday, March 18th at ashewoodward.com.  And if you’re ready to start your new project, let’s chat about your goals in a strategy session.  Get in touch at support@ashewoodward.com and tell me about it!

Freeing Yourself from the Ugly Side of Aging

Doing what I do, my birthday shouldn’t rattle me and, for the most part, it doesn’t.  But I can’t say that there isn’t a small part of me that cringes ever so slightly at the number as it increases every year.

I truly believe that age doesn’t matter when it comes to doing anything- I’ve seen too many success stories of people in their thirties and beyond that have more than proved that anything at any age is possible.

Yet, it’s funny how I still can’t help the feeling that time is running out and that another year has come and gone and there’s no going back. I can’t help checking the mirror for any new lines and white hairs coming in. 

I know this is all physical and, let’s be honest, this is the crappy part of aging for a lot of us.  But if you can separate the physical from everything else that comes with aging, it starts to not seem like not such a big deal and maybe even worth it for all the good stuff that comes along too.

I love being the age that I am and it’s great to look back at who I used to be and who I’ve become.  I can now look back at all my failures and laugh a little.  I can marvel at some of the risks that I took and remember to self-motivate from this place every day. 

I love that I see so much growth and so many achievements and goals reached.  I love that there are so much more situations I can navigate with ease and confidence because of my experience.  I love being at a place where my experience can be shared to inspire others. Plus, sharing wisdom and giving advice really is another way to stay young; passing your ideas on to the next generation means that your ideas live on and your experiences, bad and good, are never in vain. Growing with each day and reaching goals is getting older with style.  That’s really doing aging right. 

When I think of it this way, getting older just for the sake of another year (and not checking in or evaluating the growth) truly is the only ugly side of aging. Looking at it like this, I start to appreciate the grey hairs that stick out like badges of success through the worry of the times I fell down and all the lines on my face made from so much happiness and laughter.

I had a great birthday this year, spending time with my friends, family and a riotous 50% off sale.  Thanks to everyone who sent me birthday wishes!

To find out more about me and what I do please check out ashewoodward.com and sign up for my weekly newsletter that has even more goodies for you on your journey to success in your 30s!