I don’t know whether it’s the Virgo in me, but my approach to life is to have a checklist of items that I want to achieve and to tick them off once completed. The feeling of satisfaction I get when I tick off an item is immense, and I then get excited to plan the next goal that I’ve set my sights on.
Everybody’s ‘life list’ looks different. I suppose others like me have a physical list of things they want to achieve in life, whereas others might have a slight idea in their heads of where they want to be and what they want to do. We are all moving towards a goal of sorts. Whether that’s wanting to settle down and have kids, get on the property ladder or advance in our careers. Other items on the list might be visiting certain travel destinations, experiencing something new such as a skydive or owning a pair of Jimmy Choos. Like I say, everyone’s list looks different whether it’s physical, a thought in your head or a mood board.
Is having this approach to life a healthy one?
I’ve always thought that my approach to life was a healthy one and that it was a way of being in control of my destiny. But now that I’ve ticked off my big five it’s made me panic a little… What’s next? I’m 32 years old and I’m married, I’ve had a child, I’ve bought my first house and I’ve found a career that I am excited to get out of bed in the morning for, perfect right? But it’s led me to take a look into what really made me feel the need to have achieved this by my 30s and it made me question whether it was me in the driving seat at all.
After a simple Google, I realised that I’m not alone in believing that I needed to have achieved these things to feel successful and as though I have a ‘purpose’ in my 30s. In fact, women, in particular, feel huge pressure to have achieved certain things in life before a certain age due to our ticking biological clock, societal pressure and more. Although I’m not hung up on depicting a perfect life on social media, I did read through some articles and resonate with some of the things women said they felt.
“Women in their mid-30s are now said to be facing a ‘second adolescence’, as we struggle to navigate through a quagmire of daunting life choices. We’re worrying about having children and getting married, switching careers, and struggling to buy our first homes in a narrow period of a few years — all while trying to make our lives look flawless on social media.”Stylist
Across the spectrum, there is evidence that women are taking their time and doing things later in life than previous generations. More of us than ever are having children later in life, with statistics from the Office of National Statistics revealing that more women are getting pregnant at 30 or older rather than in their 20s. The main reason for this is that women are concentrating on their careers, not willing to take a break when they feel they are at their peak, and wanting to make sure they can afford to have a child by making sure they are in a comfortable position with their finances before bringing life into the world.
I’m not saying I regret having my to-do list and completing it so soon because I really don’t. But it has meant that I’m more open to living life in a more free-flowing way. Rather than being strictly dedicated to a list of goals that I want to accomplish, I’ve started planning things that I want to do that will create memories and encourage me to live in the moment rather than always chasing the ‘next big thing.’
This analysis of where my life was going has led my family and me to relocate to the countryside. It’s a huge change – one that will benefit all of us and help us achieve a slower pace of life. City life has served my husband and me well over the last decade, where we’ve needed to live close to work and wanted to be in the thick of it. Now, our priorities have changed – with some help from the pandemic making us reevaluate what we actually want out of life and where we want to live it. I’m excited for what’s next!
Millie: “I have felt huge pressure to be settled down, married and starting a family before the age of 30. When I turned 30 and I still hadn’t met the person I wanted to spend my life with, I had a bit of a crisis of confidence. I felt miserable because I was living with my parents to save for a deposit for a house, and I was incredibly single. Over the last few years, I’ve realised that I’m not able to be open to someone until I’m happier with myself. I have begun working on myself, been seeing a therapist and I’ve taken up yoga and already my outlook on where I should be versus where I want to be has changed. I’m on my own path and I don’t need to have achieved all the things on an imaginary checklist to reach happiness.”
Emma: “I also achieved marriage, kids and a house before the age of 30 thinking that it was the key to happiness in life. I’m now 40, divorced and in the middle of changing direction in my career. I’m happier now than when I thought I had it all!”
Sarah: “I am the same, I had a checklist of items that I wanted to tick off before I was 30. I achieved them all by the age of 35 and do believe that it has brought me happiness. I agree that not everyone has to work to the same timeline and it won’t make everyone happy. But it works for me, I’m very content and I feel like I’m leading a life that makes me feel fulfilled and happy. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Charlie: “I had a baby when I was 18 and was told it would ruin my life. Although it hasn’t been an easy road, it has meant that now I’m in my 30s I am not thinking about settling down and having children because I’ve already been there and done that, it’s not on my to-do list. It’s almost like I don’t have that biological pressure most women have and it means that I’m able to fully concentrate on my job and making my daughter and my life an amazing one. I’m glad I was a teen mum.”