I want to go back and tell my 2012 self, “You’re gonna be okay.” Do you ever think about that? You’ve been through some struggles in the past. And at the time I bet you were anxious about the future. How would it all turn…
The power of “no” is undeniable. It takes courage to say because it isn’t always well-received. And there’s always that little doubt in your head about whether you’re doing the right thing.
Too often, we stay in unhappy situations until some outside force intervenes. We wait for other factors to close those doors for us and push us in the direction we should have taken on our own. But why leave that “no” in the hands of other people?
The term “blessing in disguise” is often used to describe an outside force that comes into your life and shakes things up, driving you in a positive direction that you wouldn’t have otherwise taken. If what you have in front of you isn’t what you want, save yourself by saying no. Don’t wait for a blessing in disguise because it will probably never come.
That’s why “no” is so powerful. Think about this:
How many times have you said yes to relationship standards that fell short of your expectations
…to a friend who asked for favors but wouldn’t do the same in return
…or to a job you hated because you were afraid you couldn’t find better?
Saying no means taking control of what you will not accept, and not leaving that decision to someone else.
Saying “no” requires not being driven by fear.
It often means rejecting an option even when you have no alternative to trade it in for, like ending a relationship or a friendship without having another set or arms to run to.
Why embracing the power of “no” can change the course of your life:
Dating and relationships: You’ve probably made the mistake of hanging on to a partner who didn’t want the same thing as you, or subscribed to relationship standards that didn’t make you happy. It’s not that you should get what you want all the time because that’s unrealistic – but there should always be reciprocity and an equal, consistent commitment to each other’s happiness.
You have to know when to invest and when to walk away. And if you’re waiting until you find someone else to fall madly in love with you and show you what you’ve been missing, you’re doing it wrong.
Relationships aren’t like jobs – you can’t interview for a new one while holding on to the one you have. And if you are, you’re not ready to be in a relationship in the first place.
Don’t be afraid to stand on your own and end relationships that don’t meet your standards. In fact, by latching on to the wrong one, you’re guaranteeing your own misery by ensuring you’re unavailable to recognize and receive the right one.
Friendships: On a similar note as the above, your 30s are a time to say “no” to friendships of superficiality or convenience. Every friend should enhance your life in some way.
Friends should do for you as you do for them, not just when it’s convenient or when they need something. The key, again, is reciprocity. If you’re doing your part and they’re not, the word you need to remember is “no”. Free up time in your life from superficial relationships so you can dedicate time to those who enrich your life.
Personal development: It took me until now to become fit and healthy. Not because I didn’t know how to before, but because I preferred eating what I wanted, and sleeping in instead of working out.
A sign of maturity is putting less value on short-term gratification. The most worthwhile payoffs are not immediate. They take time, effort and discipline.
Sometimes that means saying “no” to a destination wedding invitation because you’re trying to save money for a car or house, or to a California burrito at 2am because you’re trying to eat healthier.
Jobs: Jobs are SO much like relationships! And that makes the job search process a lot like dating. If you’ve gone through the interview process recently, you know what I mean.
Many of the same rules apply. You have to know what you bring to the table and what you expect from the other party (your employer). If you treat the interview like a first date rather than an audition, you’ll be a little more real with yourself about whether this is a job you actually want rather than trying to blindly sell yourself into something that may not be the best match for you.
Pay attention to the warning signs because how a company treats candidates during the interview process is reflective of how they treat their employees:
Do they value your time? Do they treat the interview like an audition (one-directional) or a conversation (two-directional)? Are they transparent with their information or do they treat you like a poker opponent? If it feels like you’re forcing it, you probably are.
Above all, remember…
If a situation doesn’t feel right or it doesn’t serve you, don’t be afraid to say no.
The hardest part is having the confidence to realize that your options are not limited to what’s in front of you at that moment, because you can create new options.
If you let fear drive your decisions, the right people/opportunities will never make their way into your life because you’ll be too busy trying to put a Band-Aid on the “yeses” that should have been “no’s”.
If we are all so unique, why should the progression of our lives follow the same timeline?
It’s time to get past the outdated idea that you’re supposed to map out your entire life before you’re even old enough to buy a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon for all those beer pong games you played
last weekend in college. It’s hard enough to pick a college major, let alone make life-altering decisions when you’ve had very little life experience.
Your 20s are a time for self-discovery. And that path rarely occurs on a straight trajectory.
Yours may have looked more like this:
So it’s no surprise that reaching your “Dirty 30” might even feel like:
Mistakes are an essential and unavoidable part of life – so is change. The earlier we embrace the fact that mistakes do not equal failure so long as we apply the lessons learned, the less our lives will be driven by fear.
Here’s why you’re better equipped for life-altering decisions in your 30s:
You’re less likely to be influenced by others.
The days of fielding your dating/outfit/career choices by your five closest girlfriends should be over. That’s because you know the difference between seeking advice and needing approval, and you don’t need the latter.
So if you want to take a pottery class, learn French, or quit your job as a paralegal to turn your photography hobby into a career, you’ll decide based on what’s best for YOU (and your kids, if applicable) and not popular opinion.
You know who you are.
Therefore you begin to attract people and opportunities that truly complement you because you are radiating your true self into the world. Yay!
You’re more open-minded.
You’ve probably undergone one or more major life changes and survived, so you’re more open to new experiences and don’t freak out when things don’t go according to plan.
You made enough mistakes then to make wiser decisions now.
By now you’re probably more adept at taking calculated risks as opposed to careless ones because your brain has learned to think a few steps ahead.
Which leads me to my next point…
You’re like, mature and stuff.
Seriously. Your brain’s frontal lobe, which is the part of the brain that solves problems and anticipates consequences, does not reach full maturity until your mid-twenties. That explains SO much, right?
So that time you thought it was okay to slam Fernet shots the night before your 8am midterm and woke up feeling like death, let’s just pretend that wasn’t entirely your fault.
You’ve spent enough time in the workforce to gauge whether you’re on the right path.
Studies show two-thirds of lifetime wage growth happens during the first 10 years of your career. But if you haven’t spent your 20s climbing up the same corporate ladder, it’s not too late to reinvent yourself or further your education. Which leads me to my next point…
Universities are adjusting to the lifestyle of the working adult.
The prevalence of night classes, online courses, and satellite campuses are a reflection that the average college student is no longer a fresh-faced 18-year old living in a college dorm. Even well-known universities like UC Berkeley have satellite campuses in busy downtown areas so students can walk to class after work.
Unfortunately that doesn’t make college any more affordable.
But if you’re going to take out a student loan in your 30s, at least you have a better concept of debt than you did when you were fresh out of high school. And you’re less likely to waste your hard-earned money by changing your major multiple times like you may have done 10 years ago.
Solitude is less scary than it was in your 20s.
You’re more comfortable sitting in a coffee shop alone, or embracing your single-hood rather than crying over it. And that means your travel plans are not dependent on anyone else. Why wait for someone to travel with you when you can write your own travel itinerary? It’s not as scary as it sounds, I promise! If you’re like me, you’ll find it liberating.
Aside from my metabolism, I wouldn’t trade anything from my current life for what I had a decade ago. I’ve never been so sure of what I want and who I am.
Now that you know it’s not too late…go out and conquer the world you sexy, sophisticated beast!
But don’t forget to put on sunscreen first.
…and pack some healthy snacks.
…and set your out-of-office alert on your work email.
You are a grown up, after all 🙂