The Pressure to Achieve

I am in my late 20’s, well to be exact I am 28 but late 20’s sounds less ‘scary’. Why scary? Because the time I have left to get my ‘life in order’ as it were is getting closer every single day.

In your 20’s and early 30’s there are heavy expectations thrust upon you. Whether it’s the media comparing your life to the wealthy and super-famous who already own three houses, have personal trainers and wonderful job prospects, or your mother telling you that she was married at your age and you should be too – it’s a lot of pressure to achieve.

Lets take your career; you live in a time where you can do absolutely anything. There are so many ways to earn an income. You are surrounded by endless choices and I think that’s a wonderful thing. Sixty years ago there were few careers a woman could choose from; secretary, nurse, teacher and although these are great professions, the choice was limited. Now women and men alike can choose from a huge range of careers, everything from vlogging on YouTube to flying jets for the air force. The flip side to all of this choice is that you may need to try a number of different things before you find a profession that fits you. Where your grandfather might have worked for the same company for 40 years you will likely study three or more different fields and work in several, making major career changes every seven years. You cannot use profession as a measuring stick for having your life in order because your career will change with your changing interests, skills and knowledge. The only constant is change, so let go of the pressure to have made the right choice by a certain age and enjoy the journey of a varied professional life.

Your significant other – or lack thereof, also fails to determine whether you have it together. I know too many folk who have been married for many years and are deeply unhappy. There are those who marry in their 20’s and get divorced ten years later only to find themselves single once more. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing your life to others. Your relationships will all change, be they romantic or platonic. Some people will be in your life for a short period of time and others for decades and neither length of time can determine their worth to you. Some people seem to have it all from the outside but when closely examined they may not. It is the quality of all the different relationships in your life that matter, and few or many, its the quality that should be considered an achievement. You are ‘achieving’ by any age if you put energy and love into connecting deeply within the relationships in your life.

The only true way to measure whether your life is on track has absolutely nothing to do with that which you can compare to others. Your life is on track because you are alive. It is really that simple. The level of presence, engagement, and everyday happiness are your signposts that you’re ‘achieving’. Some people will buy their own homes in their 20’s and others will rent their whole lives and neither one is better than the other. I’ll make it my aim not to compare my many career changes to the folks who are satisfied with their first choice. Make it your aim to question where the pressure to achieve is coming from and whether it should be a measuring post for yourself. Perhaps your happiness should be how you measure your success at any age. You can have your life together without pressure if you are willing to question what having your life together means for you.

Here are some of my favourite quotes to inspire you further:

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to be a man of value” – Albert Einstein

“In the end its not the years in your life that count. Its the life in your years” – Abraham Lincoln

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking” – Marcus Aurelius

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts” – Winston Churchill

“I haven’t failed. I have just found 10,000 different ways that don’t work” – Thomas Edison

“Personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a checklist of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications are not your life” – J. K. Rowling

If you feel the pressure to achieve many things by a certain age or have overcome that pressure share them with our community below.

Pressure, pressure, pressure.