If you’ve been chugging along and working for about a decade since you got out of college, that out-of-nowhere confusion about your job is called your 30s. Welcome!

It may not seem fair that once you’ve finally hit a groove and feel like you’re getting somewhere that you suddenly have all these questions about your career, but it’s a very common situation to find yourself in.

Your 30s offer a new layer of life complexity, whether that’s a serious partner, a spouse, kids, a mortgage, or other grown up stuff. It’s also a time when you know yourself better, and are more keen to be honest with yourself and motivated to change things about your life that aren’t working for you. If your career is on that list, you’re not alone. To help you make sense of what may be going on at this stage of your career, here are…

5 Truths About Work in Your 30s

1 | It’s time to own your abilities.

You’ve paid your dues. You’ve put in the time. You’ve learned and taken on more responsibility. You’re really good at certain things, and it’s time you started acting like it.

Wherever you excel, whether that’s in counseling people, pushing pixels, creating systems, editing ideas, or managing numbers, do more of it. You can quit trying to be good at everything and start being the best at what comes naturally to you.

Don’t go full diva, but expect to be compensated fairly for what you do.

2 | “No” is your best friend. 

It’s easy to blame work for making you tired or bummed, but the culprit often lies elsewhere. When life tips from “full” to “overwhelming,”unmanageable,” or “I only see my friends once a month,” it’s time to start saying “no” like a boss.

No to serving on that volunteer committee. No to hosting your friend’s MLM party. No to mindlessly clicking on Facebook. No to reading gossip mags thinly veiled as news. No to going to the birthday party of that guy you don’t really like, anyway.

Know what matters most to you, and put that first. It will change your life.

3 | Your priorities change. 

This doesn’t only happen in your 30s; in fact, it will happen many times throughout your career. But the transition from being a 20 something to a 30 something is the first time you’re likely to notice a big change in your priorities.

Things that you used to be willing to sacrifice no longer seem worth it. Having clearer personal values means you’re more likely to be uncomfortable when they clash with the values of your employer. Your sense of purpose and why you want to work may change.

This is all normal and a sign that you’re evolving as a person. Don’t be surprised if how you earn a living needs to evolve, too.

4 | Your career should support the life you want to live. 

In your 20s, your career may have been about establishing yourself and starting to climb the ladder. Or maybe it was about adventure and trying to prolong your college years. In your 30s, you can still climb or adventure, but not to the exclusion of living the life you want now.

Will there be times at work when you have to hustle and stay late? Sure. And if you’re energized by that, keep it up. But if overextending yourself is no longer a spot fix, negatively affects your work and life, and has become the new normal for your job? Time to start looking elsewhere.

5 | It’s not too late to change careers. 

You may feel like it’s too late to change careers, but that’s just the Sunk Cost Fallacy talking. And it is a fallacy. It has you convinced that you should stick with your current course because you can’t get back what you’ve already invested into it.

Already got the degree. Already have the student loans. Already spent 6 years here. Already already already.

It’s ok to let go of what you’ve already done. You’ll be much better off looking to your future and basing your career decisions based on what’s best for you now as opposed to what you thought was best for you when you did those alreadies.

Laura Simms is an expert in meaningful work who challenges conventional wisdom by asking people to ditch their passions and start with purpose.

If you have too many passions, zero passions, or can't seem to combine your passions, try her purpose-first approach to find a career you love.  


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