The dirty little secret about your late 20s/early 30s

Overwhelmed....

It doesn’t get easier…just more complicated!

Recently, I’ve been having the same conversation with a lot of good friends, MBA or not about whaaaat….THIS is what being a grown up is really about? No one told me it was gonna be like this! I thought I’d hit a point in life and kind of ‘have it all together’ – or at least feel way more proactively ahead of the game based on all my (sooo extensive) life experience. Instead, I feel like sometimes I’m just trying to keep up with my own life. My boss has a client where at one point he was frustrated because the team was just ‘putting out fires instead of being strategically proactive about the next steps for the future.’ It kinda feels like that. (except we added more resources and got it under control. My life? Not so simple)

Responsibilities, aging parents, loans, mortgages (if you’re lucky), younger brothers and sisters needing a little extra $help$, the guilt/responsibility/pride of being THAT person for your family (given you’re the ‘responsible’ one)…

Now this isn’t to say every generation before us hasn’t gone through this same revelation right around this time – but it HAS been a bit different for the ‘millenials’ that I’m talking to.

Gen X folks (and before) – their parents had pensions and insurance, from somewhat secure life-time jobs to cover things like health problems, retirement income, and fixed expenses. Folks that didn’t go to b-school or post-grad school have been working and saving money and don’t have that extra loan payment to think about (unless you DID buy some property and then you understand our pain).

So on top of paying loans, I and many of my MBA/post-graduate degree friends are

– Trying to save (since there won’t be any social security by the time I’m 60)

– Trying to be good children for parents that took care of us (when there are health problems, or other unexpected things that come up – I WANT to be able to say here mom/dad, I’m where I thought I’d be at 30, take whatever money you need, I got you. The fact that I can’t, to the level that I’d like, is not a great feeling)

– Starting to think about investing in some serious roots (i.e. buying a house, a car, heck, REAL wood furniture)

– Starting to solidify what we believe in (and unlearn all the things we told ourselves we SHOULD be in our 20s so we can focus on being who was WANT to be going forward)

– Trying to maybe travel, see the world, or experience the nicer, more spontaneous things in life (before the babies come, if you’re planning on that and your life is no longer your own)

– And of course (after going to at least 10 weddings in the last 2 years post business school) everyone’s getting married and starting to think about weddings (expensive!) and babies (expensive AND time/energy/emotional/attention consuming)

Oh and on top of that – trying to build a career, grow my network, create content to have a ‘brand’, and figure out what I’m doing with my life to actually give back so that others can have the same opportunities I had….etc..

Now, don’t get me wrong – these are squarely and definitely first world problems to have. I have NO misconceptions about that. This isn’t a woe-is-me pity party. But with that said, I DO want to do the most that I can with the time that I have and the life I’ve been given – so I think about all of these things holistically and am trying to figure out how to get it all done in one lifetime.

I enjoy my life, I appreciate the confidence, the open expanse of possibility before me, and the skills that I’ve learned over time that come with finally heading into my ‘30s’. I love my friends, and I’m blessed to have parents that are still with me that I CAN worry about not being able to spend as much as I’d like on them.

But I will say that I’m definitely not the only one who’s feeling a little overwhelmed by all the different competing factors that are pressing on my mind these days. And of course, I want to do well at all of them. Relationships, family, work, finances, preparing for the future, and still living life to the fullest – it’s a TOUGH balancing act. So I see why meditation and mindfulness practice is becoming such a growing industry among my generation. Unless we schedule it in, it’s almost impossible to simply slow down!

The best advice I think I’ve gotten is that it’s okay to take care of myself, to keep my mind, my body and my spirit right. Because it’s impossible to do well at ANY of the above responsibilities if I’m not healthy and in a good state of mind.  But it’s hard to focus on investing time in mental and physical health when there’s always something pressing that needs attention.

So given this is a topic that is literally coming up every other day lately, would love to throw it out there and see what folks are doing to juggle it all.

If any of you have any ideas/advice/perspective/pearls of wisdom on how to manage all of it  – please let me know! Would love to hear your thoughts….