REASONS I AM A FAILURE...
I hate industry ‘30 under 30’ power books.
I’ll give you three reasons why.
- Historically, they lack diversity and while some industries such as PR say they are taking steps to rectify this, the fundamentals mean this won’t actually be achieved. It comes back to an unspoken definition of ‘success’ that isn’t universally accessible.
- They are symptomatic and perpetuating of a pressure culture. I don’t know if there’s been a surge in ‘30 things to do before 30’ bucket lists in recent years, or whether I was a victim of great SEO targeting in my 20s, but there seem to be a LOT. And they range between ambitious to mildly horrifying. Some of the most popular articles today, include goals like:
· Live in another country
· Learn another language
· Pay off student debt
· Own a bespoke outfit
· Attempt to break a world record
- What debilitating occurrence (apart from not being able to get off the sofa without saying “Oof”) happens after you turn 30!? 32 and want to do the Inca Trail? Forget it mate. That ship has sailed. Been saving for 10 years and can finally afford a deposit for a flat at 38? Don’t bother. Hardly worth it now.
The closer I got to 30, the bigger a milestone I made it. Getting engaged, buying a house, getting a new job title, attempting to break a world record (okay, maybe not the last one but clearly I should have had it on my list) — in my 20s, I felt if I hadn’t achieved these things by 24th November 2016, then I wasn’t a success.
Surprisingly, by the time it rolled around, I hadn’t ticked one of those things off my list.
I then celebrated by having a breakdown.
It’s no coincidence the top topic linked to Googling ‘Turning 30’ is ‘Anxiety — Emotional disorder’.
Don’t get me wrong — congratulations to all those who have found themselves on these lists, it is something to be proud of. My point is it shouldn’t solely define success.
I have worked with and currently work with amazing individuals who:
- Changed their career focus after realising the route they had been on for years wasn’t right for them
- Are a full time carer
- Set up a business because it works for their wider life priorities
- Always have time to support and listen to their colleagues
- Bring up a family (major kudos to this one, from someone whose neighbour’s toddler has seemingly just discovered how to shriek)
These are incredible accomplishments — and these people aren’t on a list for it.
Confession: when I was in my early 20s, my ‘big career goal’ was to be in a PR ‘30 under 30’ list.
I know, I’m cringing too.
Not least because at nearly 34, I now look back at my 20s and think “Bloody hell, you did alright”. I left an unhappy relationship, took two different career opportunities that scared me, and went to Indonesia on my own (…yes, I did read Eat, Pray, Love at this point).
My proudest achievement this year? Manifesting my anxiety in an imaginary acquaintance (Hi Stace!).
Basically, it’s good to have goals and ambitions but if life takes you on a different route, celebrate your ‘reframed’ successes.
Make your own power list. And if you’re over 30 and beating a world record is still on that — go for it! Apparently ‘most Smarties eaten in 60 seconds blindfolded using chopsticks’ is one of the easiest to beat, so you might want to start there.