30 is a very important milestone for most of us. We think of 30 as crossing an important threshold into maturity and responsibility. Not that we don’t feel mature and responsible in our 20s; 30s just have this wake-up call attached to it. It reminds you that ‘look you are not getting any younger’.
So by default, society expects your life to be figured out by the time you are 30. It’s even demonstrated in the age limit organizations require from candidates and applicants. At 30 it’s hard to get entry-level jobs, access some scholarships, grants any other opportunities. No one expects you to be making a career turnaround in your 30s. But life happens. And sometimes it happens in ways we least expect. So how do you start over in your 30s when you really have to? How do you change careers? How do you develop a new skill? Where do you even start from?
There is definitely no straightforward answer. One size does not fit all in this case. People’s circumstances are peculiar to them. But that notwithstanding, I’m going to share some steps I hope will help someone. In my early 20s, my dream was to enter my third decade financially successful, traveling the world, speaking to large audiences, and starting a family. I turned 30 almost a decade ago. And it didn’t turn out that way. But I have learned a couple of lessons along the way. Before we get to it, I’ll like to invite you to subscribe to After School TV for more insightful videos like this.
Here is the first thing you need to keep in mind.
Age is just a number; a societal construct. For example, a 25 year old person, married with two kids have different sets of priorities and responsibilities from a single 35 year old. Their responsibility is not a function of their age but a function of their decisions. While you may naturally be able to do certain things better at a younger age, there are also things you can do better at an older age; like “have a mind of your own” or “be more rational”.
Don’t limit yourself because of your age. Don’t make excuses because of your age. 30s is not even old. So you are still quite young. Now let’s look at 7 steps that will help you start all over in your 30s.
1. Be clear about what you want
A man named Kirk shared his personal story on Quora. At age 37, Kirk was no longer interested or challenged by his sales job. He wanted to become a software developer. One morning, while driving to work, he noticed a truck steering towards him and thought to himself, “if I let this truck hit me, I could get away from going to work today”. Luckily, Kirk didn’t let the truck hit him. But on getting to work that morning he couldn’t help thinking about it. How could he entertain such thought just to avoid getting to work? How bad could it get? At that moment, he decided he had to do something about where his life was headed.
Few days later he put in his two weeks’ resignation notice and decided to go to school and get a degree in Computer Science. “I had no idea how I would do it…” he said. But he set the wheels in motion and committed to it. He soon got an internship job working as a programmer while going to school. Few years down the line, Kirk is a professional software developer in his 40s. And he doesn’t think about letting trucks hit him on his way to work anymore.
The first step to starting over is to be clear of what you want. Kirk wanted to become a software developer. For you, it could be starting your own farm; or starting your own TV show. At the very least, be clear of the new direction you want to take.
2. Identify ‘Why’ you want this change
Kirk, our protagonist, was sick and tired of going back to a job that made him feel miserable. It must have been disheartening for him to daily watch his life dwindle into obscurity; to the point that he could no longer draw the line between a reasonable excuse to skip work and self-deprecating thoughts. It doesn’t have to get this bad before you see a reason to make that drastic change. But you need a strong enough reason if you intend to see through it.
If you are not clear on why you want this change, you will run out of momentum quickly. You don’t want to make a decision on impulse and then want something else in the next few months. Here is an important tip; It is better your ‘why’ is centered on something you don’t want rather than on something you want. For example, Kirk was not motivated to change his career to make more money. That is not a strong enough motivation. Instead, he was motivated by a life he did not want to go back to. Think critically about why you want to start over. And be certain about it.
3. Identify the first most important step to take
For Kirk, that step was to enroll for a computer science degree. The next step was to get an internship. Things often seem too complicated when you are trying to figure out every step at once. What you need is to know where you want to get to and the next move you have to take. Be clear on where you are going, but only focus on your next move. You don’t have to figure out all the steps. You just have to know what you want, why you want it, and the first most important step you need to take. And then the next.
4. Refine your network
When I decided to move from building construction to web development, I knew I needed to reevaluate the people in my network. The reason is quite obvious. On one hand, you don’t want to invest your time with people that will discourage you from staying consistent in your new path. On the other hand, you need people to encourage you and people with experience in your new path for guidance, access to information, and opportunities. Having the right people around you can make a difference between your success and failure.
5. Focus Your Energy and Time
Your new found calling will require focused energy and effort above the level you are currently operating on. You can’t afford to waste your energy on distractions and scattered efforts. You don’t have the luxury of time at this point. If you cannot focus, it does not matter how well you manage your time. You’ll still end up wasting it. Eliminate distractions; focus all your energy on your one goal.
6. Set goals aimed at personal growth
At first, you don’t want to focus on getting external results. You want to focus on growing into the person your new life demands. This means that your success should be measured on the progress you are making in your experience and knowledge, and not on a single outcome or your destination.
7. Stay Consistent
Imagine that, five years ago, you made the decision to start that business; to develop that skill or to get the qualification you’ve always wanted. Imagine you decided to take that course like Kirk. Imagine the progress you would have made today.
I can guess you feel disappointed for not having taken the step earlier. Now, imagine five years from now. Can you promise yourself that when you look back to today, you will not be disappointed?
You see, life is just an accumulation of momentary decisions over time. When you procrastinate for 30 minutes, it may not make much difference. But when you accumulate the habit of procrastination over 5 years, then you can see how much difference it would have made.
In the same way, if you devote 30 minutes to learn and practice a new skill today, it may not make much difference at the moment. But when you accumulate the habit of learning and practicing over 5 years, then you can see how much difference that will make.
Starting over brings new challenges and setbacks. But always remember that the victory is in the cumulative daily efforts over time. It’s never too late to start over.
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