I watched a Ted Talk recently, Meg Jay’s Why 30 is not the new 20, and found myself having very mixed feelings on the subject. However, one thing I got out of the talk that I absolutely agree with is that our 20s are not just a time to piddle and play. Notice I used the word just. There’s no doubt that people are doing things later in life. I recently saw in one gossip magazine or another that actress Laura Linney gave birth to her first child at 49 years old.
But does that mean we can wait to figure things out? Although we’ve all mastered the last-minute all nighter, because those parties were way more appealing, and have a knack for making a meal out of ramen and rice (I confess nothing), because taking the time to buy actual groceries and cook sounded like climbing Mount Everest, I do believe searching for what we want now is monumentally important. As a previous literature major with no long-term goals (you Fine Arts folks know what I’m talking about) I can tell you that I was not someone who took advantage of my resources in college. Am I saying that it’s suit and tie and monotonous desk days in hopes of decent health care and a 401K? Not necessarily.
If this post sounds like an indecisive amnesiac playing devil’s advocate, then I’m sorry. But I am trying to figure this out right along with you. And here’s the conclusion I’ve come to:
It’s time to make a list. Yes, a list. List what’s important to you right now. For example my list looks something like this:
Becoming a Full Time Writer
Building Relationships with my Family
Eliminating my Debt
I’ll keep the list short because knowing all of my priorities isn’t the point. The point is acknowledging the things you want now, for a better later. If you don’t know what you want to do professionally and decide to wait on tables until you figure it out, just know that you’re wasting time. I would know since that’s what I’m doing right now. Now, am I saying that you shouldn’t be a server? If you need a means to live, bills to pay, and serving is what is available to you, then I say a job is a job, and no job will ever be below me when it comes to livelihood. But unless you’re preparing yourself to open or manage a restaurant one day, then just ask yourself what this job is doing for you long-term. Are you looking for jobs in your field in the meantime? Are you consolidating your funds to pay off your debt? Or are you complacently waiting two years after graduation still serving and trying to figure out what’s next? OK, so you might not be a CEO by the time you’re 30 or even be reliable enough to own a plant, but are you working toward it, or just biding time?
Figure out what’s important to you right now, and ask yourself: Am I doing what it takes right now to get where I want to be?
Feel free to leave comments. What steps are you taking? What’s some advice you’d give to those still trying to sort their list out?
Watch the Ted Talk here and tell me what you think!