A lot of people go through some kind of life stage crisis when they turn 30. Youth is idealized in your twenties, and hitting that 3-0 is seen as going downhill. I’m not experiencing much of that. I think I hit my first life crisis at 25 – you know, the whole quarter-century thing. Instead, I’m pretty optimistic and want to share what I’m hoping to do.
My twenties were marked by comparison. Comparison to my friends who had houses and families. Comparison to friends who were working their dream jobs. And ridiculously, comparison to Mark Zuckerberg who is my age yet has a billion dollar company.
But I was reminded of something a professor said back in college about life stages, in terms of career and life purpose.
Your twenties are your Discovery Years. You explore, try, and fail, trying to figure out who you are and your place in life.
Your thirties are your Building Years. You know who you are and what you want to do, and you start creating your legacy.
Your forties are your Prime Years. You have experience, you’ve hit your sweet spot, and you do some of your greatest accomplishments.
Your fifties are your Legacy Years. You’re capping off all you’ve done and ensuring that what you’ve built will endure to the next generation.
Your sixties and beyond are your Wisdom Years. You’re taking your wealth of knowledge and experience to teach the next generation.
Yes, this is very generic and limited in scope, so don’t read too much into it. But it was very insightful for me, especially going into my thirties. My twenties weren’t a waste because I didn’t settle into a career and kids. I got my degrees. I traveled the world. I experimented with jobs (I worked at a different place almost every year). It was a decade of discovery and clarification. This is what I came out with going into the next decade.
I Know Myself
My twenties were like the junior high of adulthood. I didn’t know where I fit in or what I was supposed to do, so I copied a lot of everyone else. It’s a lot easier now to knowing what I’m good at, what I need help in, and what I value.
I know what my strengths are. I’m a good public speaker. I can lead and inspire teams. My top 2 strengths in Strengths Finder are “Futuristic” & “Strategic,” meaning I’m great at setting a vision and plotting out the course to get there. I’m very logical and objective, being able to step back and see everyone’s perspective.
I know my weaknesses. I’m a horrible conversationalist and sweat puddles in a one-on-one talk. I’m non-confrontational and don’t speak up when I need to. I prefer not to talk with or engage with people I don’t know. I’m very undisciplined and struggle with setting routines and habits. I also allow arrogance and bitterness to breed internally.
I know what I value. I want to have maximum social impact for the time and energy I invest. I love empower others to do what they’re good at. I enjoy unifying a group of people to accomplish something greater than themselves individually. I believe strongly in dignity – the opportunity to live securely and speak freely. I am convinced that only Jesus can save us from our own brokenness. I believe I should have the freedom to persuade others of my worldview, while allowing others the dignity to choose their own worldview.
I Know Where I Want To Go
In terms of what I wanted to do when I “grew up,” my twenties weren’t much different from the previous two decades. As a kid, I wanted to be a pilot, a firefighter, a lawyer, a surgeon, a baseball player, a rock star, and a paleontologist – until I realized they didn’t really bring dinosaurs back to life.
In my twenties, I was a janitor, graphic designer, church youth director, city administrator, college teaching assistant, freelance photographer, wedding DJ for a day, web designer, elementary art teacher, computer trainer, after-school photography teacher, and online marketer. I also applied to and interviewed for being a humanitarian aid worker, a professor, overseas English teacher, and the CIA. Yeah, you read that last one correctly.
In my thirties, I want to build and lead teams. I want to teach and speak. I want to fight for the dignity of people, especially those who are victims of human trafficking. I love building websites and want to keep doing that. I want to create a lifestyle that allows me to invest in my family, impact people on a global level, create successful and significant businesses, and give generously.
It’s Time to Start Building
So what does this all mean? Well, my thirties will be sort of an extension of my late twenties. Starting some new things, continuing on existing things.
My primary focus will a new startup company of formed with my friends Cory and Tim. I truly believe that a group of people who have a strong leader, a clear vision, and a unified passion can do an incredible amount of good. I’m pouring my efforts in this new company, The Change Element, to help build and train teams to change the world.
In my twenties I started Intrinsic, a company to help alleviate poverty in through business. In the past year I’ve let it fade into the back-burner. With more marketing and business experience now, I want to rebuild and relaunch that into a company that fights human trafficking.
Much of my freelance web design work was done through my company Spark Up Arts. I still love building websites and will continue to do so, but will focus that websites efforts into training individuals to achieve their dreams online.
And finally, this website has served mostly as a journal and random thoughts on events. I want to start using it as a platform to speak my thoughts and values on passion, purpose, human dignity, social good, and the source to which I believe brings life to everything: Christ.
I hope to build these areas of my professional life into something that will make a lasting difference in people’s lives. I hope partner with new friends. I hope to start new ventures.
I’ve had my time of exploration and experimentation. I may be early or late to this stage, but it’s time to build.
What are thoughts? What do you think a person should be doing in their thirties?