The Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Was 30
A Baby Boomer’s Letter to Millennials and Gen Xers
Fifty isn’t what it used to be. For my generation, it’s like a brand new decade. Because we are living longer, healthier lives, I may reach 100. I’ve lived a great life so far and have even bigger plans for its second half. However, I lived too many years chained to The Man. I thought the American Dream meant consumption, and I bought it – hook, line, and sinker.
I am writing to tell you what helped me wake up to reality. What I know for sure is that external “things” do not make a meaningful or inspired life. I want to share what I’ve learned to help you experience more freedom and joy, and inspire you to help my generation save our living planet.
My Top 10:
1. Your body is your guidance system. Tuning into your body gives you rapid feedback. Your body communicates through emotions and energy. Move toward what gives you a spark, and move away from what leaves you feeling exhausted, and your body will lead you to your best life.
2. Thoughts are the cause of all suffering. If you stay in a job that deadens you, it’s a thought that keeps you there. If you find yourself stuck, it’s because of a story. Any thought that keeps you from being happy is a lie! If you want to feel freedom, question your thoughts. Change your thoughts, and you can transform your life.
3. Your inner lizard is pumping out lack and attack fears. Let’s talk about how our brains are wired. All animal brains include reptilian cores. Martha Beck calls it our inner lizard. Its purpose is to pump out survival fears all day long. When we listen to it, we become anxious and fearful and this blocks our creativity and problem solving abilities. The solution? Become the watcher of your thoughts and notice those lack and attack thoughts. You don’t have to listen to your inner lizard.
4. Screw the rules! Like the bumper sticker says, “Question Authority.” Question all thoughts, beliefs, social and cultural conditioning, and dogma. Screw these rules! If you are living by someone else’s rules, then you aren’t following your own destiny. Learn this now, or you will wake up at midlife feeling trapped.
5. The world of work is changing. Internet guru Seth Godin says it well – today, the good jobs go to linchpins. He says, “Linchpins leverage something internal, not external, to create a position of power and value.” Your own creativity and passion are your best work assets.
6. You and only you are responsible for your own happiness. Get this into your head right now. If you don’t learn this now, you will learn it when you are my age. You will wake up and realize that you’ve lived someone else’s life. It’s up to you to edit out what doesn’t give you fire, meaning, or happiness.
7. Dream your next big adventure. Envisioning what you want has real power. By setting intentions daily and managing your thoughts, you will reach your goals. This is called deliberate creation, and it is the only way to create the life you desire.
8. Be willing to suck at it! If you want to learn something new and get good at it, you have to be willing to suck at it. The key is to “be willing” and put your ego on the shelf while you are learning. So don’t let fear stop you from learning something new. Just be willing to suck as you learn it.
9. The material world will not bring you true happiness. My generation was taught to think that happiness and success come from consumption. Materialism doesn’t bring you happiness. The media keeps feeding our need to buy more (appealing to our inner lizard of lack) and then we end up in our 50s or 60s with too much stuff and chained to The Man. We ask ourselves, “Is this all there is?” I am not saying that having abundance is a bad thing. What I am saying is that it is not the answer to happiness. Try hearing your soul’s answer to these questions:
-Who or what inspired me today?
-Where did I experience a sense of comfort, peace, and balance?
-What (not who) made me happy today?
10. The world needs our help. Paul Hawkins noted that your generation “…will have to figure out how to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating.” We need your energy, passion, and commitment to help us save our living planet. We raised you to believe that you could accomplish your dreams. How can you harness your power and passion to save our planet?
The answer is to become aware. Eckhart Tolle says that humans have lost touch with the stillness inside and our connection to nature. We have forgotten what animals and plants still know – how to be. In stillness we can find what we need to save the planet.
That’s what I wish I’d known before I was 30. I hope you can use these 10 things to start living better now. The world needs you.
This manifesto is dedicated to Max Barr.
Sherold Barr helps others reimagine and reinvent their lives and careers to be more meaningful, joyful, and fulfilling. She is a master certified coach with “best-known life coach in America” Martha Beck, and a facilitator in The Institute of The Work of Byron Katie. For more information on Sherold visit Sheroldbarr.com.
Photo Credit: Zyada