The Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Was 30

By Guest Blogger   |  32Comments|

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

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32 responses to The Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Was 30
  1. Ali said on July 27, 2010

    Thank you for this post.Yes so true, I waved goodbye to ‘before I was 30’ quite a while ago and have now realised a lot of these ideas. The main thing to learn is how to differentiate what feels difficult because it is wrong for you and what is not easy but is beneficial for you in the long run.Also to follow your own heart not what the media/neighbours dictate or do.It is important to stay part of a community yet dance to the beat of your own drum.Basically when to say yes and when to say no and when to change your mind.Plus actioning these feelings, just knowing is not enough.

  2. Wow these are all so great. 2 and 4 speak to me especially. I wish I could go back and tell my 18 year old self those. But coulda, shoula, woulda, and my present is far more important :)

  3. Wow! Thank you for this. At 25, I am re-learning, un learning and learning for the first time…basically everything! I really appreciate you sharing yourself!

  4. Beautiful beautiful post!!! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Wonderful. Concise. And deadly accurate. I am very inspiring as this dovetails with a lot of thinking and information that I have been receiving lately. I expect Ms/mrs Barr will be hearing more from me in the very near future – that’s a threat and a promise :) Wonderful stuff.

  6. this is awesome! thank you so much for sharing. i just quit my icky part-time day job and i’ve been nervous about it but after reading this i feel like i definitely made the right decision :)

  7. Hi Joanna, Donna, Sarah-Mai and Dave – I am so happy that this post speaks to you. It’s never too late to ‘wake up’ and live in the present. I think we each need to do our part to ‘be’ the change we want to see in the world. So my part is to help people become conscious of what they think about and learn to question the negative thinking to get at their own truth. The first step is awareness. Thank you for your comments.

  8. Michelle – listen to your gut / intuition. We never know how long we are here on this planet. Make each day a great one.

  9. I love this! I am 26 now and working on some of these things..others I have down! 😉

  10. Wow! Thanks so much! This speaks to me in so many ways I can’t express. I just printed it and posted it on my board at work (I never do that ;). Thanks again – seriously inspiring!

  11. Love this post and the ideas in it. We are what we think. It is never too late to change our cognitions and therefore change the way we feel. thanks for sharing your insight!

  12. Lauren and Gennie – you both are rockin my day. I am so happy this speaks to you. Thank you for your comments. I am going to create an ebook and course off this material. I think it would help more folks.

  13. love it!

  14. Beautiful. Would loved to have known these things when I was younger but find them valid and pertinent now as well. I’m happily living the changes. Thank you for this Sherold, you continue to inspire me as a coach and mentor.

  15. I would add: Be careful with your money. Ignoring this can be a source of endless pain and heartache.

  16. I’m lucky that at my age (almost 25) I already hold in my heart and understand 1 through 10 on this list.

  17. Thank you for the great advice. I’m 23 and I’m working on a lot of these things already. I’ve come to the realization that I need to work on number 9… but that’s a revolving work in progress since I live in a consumerist society. The Dahli Lama gave the same advice as number 6 a few years ago, and it’s forever changed my way of thinking. I wrestle with number 8 on a daily basis because I learn something new everyday, and sucking that often is never fun. If you have any more advice on how to work on number 2… I could really use some help. I can’t stand being left alone with my thoughts. It’s scary! :)

  18. Great post, Sherold. As always, you are a wise and amazing woman! Thanks so much for sharing.

  19. Hi Susan, Jonathan, Melissa, Darrah and Andrea – thank you for writing comments.

    Jonathan – my husband wanted me to write a tenant about money and how we need to be saving from a young age. And how not to let money ‘chain’ you to The Man. So thank you for that.

    Melissa – you are wise for your age. Keep it up!

    Darrah – I suggest you also get in touch with what inspires your heart and what makes you happy for 30 days. That is a fabulous way to spot trends. Then keep following that path. That is your North Star or destiny’s direction.
    I wrestle too with ‘sucking at it’ and have to do self-coaching to catch myself beating myself up. The first step is watching your thoughts then shifting them to a kinder thought that causes you to feel better.
    Note on my web site that I am offering a class on Thoughts and it’s pay what you can afford. It’s coming up in mid August. Thanks.

  20. Thank you for posting this! I’m 24, living in the Midwest, and having a hard time finding a day job to support my artistic career while getting money to move to a more supportive place to create my art. This piece just inspired me to not give up and give in but to keep on the path I’m going and eventually I’ll get to where I want to.

  21. Love this – great job! Just tweeted the link. Future blog idea: I’d love to hear more about Max, the inspiration of this post.

  22. wise words. it can often appear that I am ‘behind’ a lot of my outward consuming peers but then I remind myself, I am roaring ahead on the inside!

  23. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I needed this today :)

  24. Boomerchat: completely useless advice in the burned out hellscape of boomer pillaged America. Thanks for the scorched earth and type II diabetes causing article you mental cripples.

  25. Margaret, Erin, Miranda and Judy – follow your energy and passions in life. When things come easily to you, notice that the universe is sending you the signal to keep the faith. When the path is hard, and you feel like you are pushing boulders uphill, and your body is drained of energy, ask yourself if you are following your heart’s desire? Erin – I tell my son these things, and I remind him mostly to follow his heart;) Thank you for your comments.

  26. Love it! great advice

  27. Amazing post! Thank you!!!!

  28. Thank you for such great words. Had an Aha moment and realized the deeper need I have to not give in to my fears. Love to all living things on earth……..

  29. Great post!!

  30. O.M.Goodness…..Love this and couldn’t agree more with ALL of it. I am on a quest to spread the love and can only hope I’ve already begun to, through my circle of family and friends, but I’m taking it to a whole new level. I want to and believe I can inspire our world! I live breathe and feel in the depth of my soul that our generation will catch on and realize how BEAUTIFUL life really is. Thanks again for this post!!!
    Love, Jenny

  31. Im sorry and sorrier still for all the pat on the back types, this is utter twaddle

  32. This was a very good article but some of these things are good to know at 18 like Thoughts are the cause of all suffering and The material world will not bring you true happiness.