Reaching milestones in our life can prompt us to think about where we are, where we thought we might be and what the future holds. As Life Coach Emma Wilson explains, turning thirty can be a moment for reflection and ensuring we’re living our lives as WE truly want to
Firstly, I want you to know that age is a number and there’s no magic (or tragic) event that will automatically occur the moment the clock takes you from 29 to 30, 39 to 40 and so on. Marketing agencies and the media have been creating a sense of urgency and worry around ageing for years in order to sell products, aspirational living, fertility consultations and to play upon our insecurities, for their own profit.
That being said, ‘milestone’ birthdays can still prompt a period of reflection for many of us, so how can you harness the energy around this occasion for your own development and an increasingly positive sense of self?
Starting with being honest about how you’re feeling is a good place to begin, Emma Wilson, a Life Coach who specialises in conversations around turning 30, explains. “There can be something confronting about a round-figure birthday, be it 30, 40, 50, 60 or beyond. It’s become this big thing, created by society, that can make us go into panic mode.”
Comparison is the main thing people struggle with
“Specifically for women who are turning thirty, there appears to be something very loaded and charged about it,” she continues. “From my clients, I know that the biggest thing is a feeling of being left behind or that everyone else is in a different place to you and then you start to compare. Comparison is the main thing people struggle with.”
We internalise this ‘instruction guide’ on how our lives should look
To put these expectations and comparisons into context, Emma refers to them as the ‘turning 30 manuals’. “It’s as if we have an instruction manual on what our life should look like, how we should be and what we should feel by our thirties. This comes from many different areas – popular culture, familial expectations, cultural beliefs, songs – everything you can imagine. Then we internalise this ‘instruction guide’ on how our lives should look.
“The most common instructions are that we should have a partner, be in a relationship – if not married – have children, be in the process of buying a property and in a stable career with prospects. They are the main things that people really worry about.”
This checklist, Emma notes, can make life feel like a video game where you have to complete stages and levels before you can move forward, and it denies us of any sense of individuality or change of circumstances.
“There’s so many twists and turns in life that have nothing to do with age,” she offers. “So what we really have to do is work on releasing any age-related pressure, no matter what age you are.”
Emma’s thoughts on: How to flip the milestone moment ‘pressure points’
Understand that nothing magical is going to happen on the morning of your birthday. There’s almost something illogical in our thinking around milestones. I think it’s important to just say that out loud to yourself, as it releases pressure. It’s just another day. Operating under pressure will never be conducive to getting where you personally want to be. It’s just a great time to ask questions and get to know yourself better
Use trigger thoughts around your milestone moment and really dive into them, use them as an invitation to ask big questions and make the changes that you want to. I think there’s nothing greater than someone who uses a birthday to go on a self-development journey – as cheesy as that sounds! It’s just a great time to ask questions and get to know yourself better.
The most important thing to consider is the way you ask yourself questions and the tone you use. Move away from blame-filled or accusatory questions. I like my clients to become aware of questions like this that come up for them and then I ask whether they’d speak to a friend in that way, so that they can witness and address their inner critic.
Positive reframing with questioning helps, so if you’re not happy with your career path – what have you learnt along the way and where do you want to take it next? If you’re not happy with your last chapter, how can you collect the data and ask reflective questions and understand what you can do moving forwards?
Work upon the narratives and beliefs that are limiting you, and ask what YOU want nowExamine your beliefs, and ask if they are absolutely true – you’re probably operating from outdated beliefs that have been imposed upon you. Work upon the narratives and beliefs that are limiting you, and ask what YOU want now. A Life Coach can help you with this too.
Finally, be compassionate with yourself! That’s incredibly important.
Start journaling! It’s a great way to start to separate yourself from your thoughts and what’s going on for you. I recommend that you do this as a habit, at least three times a week to see your thoughts on a piece of paper and start to become your own coach. All you need is a pen and paper, or your notes app on your phone.
It’s about finding your own role models, the people who resonate with YOUFind people that inspire you. I love Elizabeth Day and the How to Fail podcast, Dolly Alderton’s work and Anna Hope’s book Expectation. It’s about finding your own role models, the people who resonate with YOU and who might be older and have a life you admire. Dive into their materials. and podcasts and see what you can take away for yourself.