After a year like 2020, when it comes to setting new goals, don't feel pressured to do it all by 30

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Power suiting by 30? (Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)
Power suiting by 30? (Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

Or even by 40 for that matter. 

*Dramatic rewind and pause* 

Woah, wait. Breathe.

That's right. We shouldn't feel the need to give in to milestone pressures according to our age. 

In the same (deep) breath, though - don't rest on your laurels too much if you have set out to achieve big things for yourself this year.

Many have already vocalised what they wish to achieve this year - move out of their parents' house, graduate, find a job, save more money, buy a car, or find love.  

Everyone's goals are personal, different, and inspired by an array of incentives. We shouldn't be too hard on ourselves already.

And please sleep sometimes. 

But sleep and high-pressure goal chasing aside, there's a particular faction of new year resolution setting that I think we need to talk about here. The kind you suddenly take on because the clock, the calendar, and your birth certificate dictate that it's time. 

That age angst that has you feeling like someone is going to shout "TIME!" on your 30th birthday like we so eagerly do during a game of 30 Seconds. 

READ MORE | This is why your goals don’t have an expiry date

Enter milestones associated with age:

"By 25 you should have three degrees, a full-time job, a small sedan vehicle, your own apartment, a steady relationship, and a pet you're co-parenting with your partner."

"By 30 you should be in a senior position at work, be on car number two, travelled to Europe, South America, heaven and back, married or engaged, and own a business." 

Well excuse me, while I go back-date my ID on the black market.

I'm kidding.

I don't subscribe to milestone pressures. Well at least not anymore. 

However, I have observed that maybe 60 percent of the people I matriculated with are now married, engaged or expecting, and momentarily thought to myself, "maybe... I should... too... by 2022". 

Again. Just kidding.

I'm not the type to compare myself, but this is just an interesting observation that I have made. Conversely, it's a thought that leads to the interrogation of age expectations we not only place on ourselves, but on others too. Even subconsciously so

Of course, we can't negate the fact that internalised social conditioning is a major catalyst in trying to do it all. You know, the disguised electric fence and 1.4 kids narrative.

READ MORE | Tracee Ellis Ross happy to be ‘single and childless’ at 45

I came across a rather insightful Buzzfeed News think piece from 2019, titled "How millennials became the burnout generation" and it delves into exactly how we got here.

The 38-year-old writer, Anne Helen Peterson, first muses on our generation's condition of procrastination, especially with regards to mundane tasks and then she draws the parallels between older generations and us:

"Financially speaking, most of us lag far behind where our parents were when they were our age," Anne highlights. 

"When my class left our liberal arts experience, we scattered to temporary gigs: I worked at a dude ranch; another friend nannied for the summer; one got a job on a farm in New Zealand; others became raft guides and transitioned to ski instructors. We didn’t think our first job was important; it was just a job and would eventually, meanderingly lead to The Job," she later notes. 

We're infamous for being the 20-something's who want 'The Job' now. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with being ambitious, but it's also cool to trust the process too.

After all, Oprah wasn't Oprah until she was 32. Taraji P. Henson only got her breakout role at 31. And phenomenal Jullliard alumnus actress, Viola Davis, only won her first Oscar in 2017 after being nominated twice before (well, there's also the #OscarsSoWhite element to that).

So to echo Nayyirah Waheed's words, "every once in a while, take your life off and rest."

It's a five-year plan, not a five-day plan after all.

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