‘Extended adolescence’ is a hotly debated topic, and has been sparked by a generation of twenty-somethings kicking marriage and parenthood into the long grass, while embracing education for longer.
Sure, the fact these aforementioned twenty-somethings may well share rented apartments with strangers deep into their eighties might have something to do with it, but this shouldn’t give you a free pass to ignore life’s big questions.
After all, without getting all mystic and philosophical, even those that believe in an afterlife or reincarnation can agree that life – this one, right here – is short. So it’s probably best you start living it right, right?
With the help of a crack team of professional coaches, we’ve assembled 13 key questions every man should be able to circumnavigate by the time he turns 30. So, if you find yourself struggling, maybe it’s time you put down the Nerf gun (or whatever it is ‘kidults’ play with these days), and take a much-needed stare in the mirror, son.
What, And Who, Deserves My Attention?
“Your ability to know who, what and how you will pay attention to in the world are some of the most important questions you will answer in your lifetime,” claims Australian leadership expert, Neen James.
“This influences your relationships – personally and professionally – and determines your productivity, the achievements in your career, and how you make an impact on the planet. It’s about being thoughtful. It’s about being productive. It’s about being a responsible and considerate human.”
In order to focus on the actions you take and the choices you make, James suggests investing in ‘intentional attention’. “Your attention and willingness to gift people your undivided attention will improve relationships. Your attention to specific career goals will help focus your results, and keep you accountable for prioritising the most important work. Your attention to the planet – through making conscious choices about the resources you use – creates a legacy for the future. This all starts with your attention.”
What Story Is Holding Me Back?
“We all have something that holds us back and keeps us from fulfilling our potential,” says Dale Sims, a UK-based performance coach.
“Maybe it’s a teacher who said you’d never amount to anything, so you grew up thinking you’re not good enough, or a parent who told you not to chase your dreams and to get a ‘real job’, so you limit yourself to a sheltered life.
“These narratives prevent us from living a life we deserve, and affect how much action we take in life, and ultimately our results. Knowing your story is the first step towards conquering it.”
How Satisfied Am I With My Life?
Sandra Richardson is a confidence coach, and often asks her clients to rate various aspects of their life, as part of an exercise called ‘The Wheel of Life’.
“I draw a circle, and divide it into eight segments,” she says. “One is labelled ‘Health’, others will be labelled ‘Fun’, ‘Recreation’, ‘Family’, ‘Romance’, ‘Sex’, and I’ll ask: how satisfied are you in each of these areas, on a scale of zero to 10?
“For example, it’s not about how much money you’ve got, but how satisfied you are with it. It’s almost like taking a bit of a meta-view of your life, which instantly gives you the chance to be more in control.
“If I were to boost my health to a 10, what would it look like? What’s one step I can take towards getting there? It’s a really good way of taking stock.”
What Do I Want?
“By 30 years old, you’ve had a vast amount of experience in each aspect of your life,” says life coach Michael Serwa. “You have had the opportunity to explore what you want in your career, with partners, where you want to live, what you want to spend your time doing and what makes you feel alive.
“It’s time to work on getting it. Without knowing what you want, you can’t focus on it, or work on it. So get clear, get working and go get it.”
What Do I Want To Be Able To Say About My Life When I’m 90?
“We call this the rocking chair test,” says Sims. “Imagine that you’re 90 years old, talking to your great-grandchildren and they say, ‘What has your life been like?’
“What would you want to say to them? That it was filled with regret, of the things you wish you had done but hadn’t had the courage? Or that it was full of excitement, adventure and joy?
“We all have a very limited time on this planet. You can spend yours arguing, comparing yourself to others on social media and turning up to a job you hate, or you can make the most of it while you still have the opportunity.”
Am I Made To Work For Others Or Myself?
“Both are brilliant because both give you different things – the trick is doing what works for you,” claims Serwa.
“By doing the wrong one, you’re wasting your days. Wasting your life. Your life will be much richer when you are doing what fits your values and life blueprint.
How much responsibility do you want? Do you want to be in control of your time? Do you like being told what to do? Or do you like having full creative and locational freedom? “All of these answers will give you the best life has to offer for you. But you have to ask the questions to find out.”
What Does Being A Man Mean To Me?
Post-bro, post-metrosexual and amidst questions surrounding ‘toxic masculinity’, being a man has never been so complex.
“This is a very personal question for each individual man,” admits Richardson. “We used to replicate what our fathers did, or the masculine figures in our life, however, this question means not going on autopilot and repeating what you’ve seen in the past, but consciously choosing. How do I want to be as a man in the world? It’s about personalisation, as opposed to outdated stereotypes.”
Who Inspires Me?
“You are the mean sum of the five people you spend most of your time with,” claims Richardson, “so to actually have someone that inspires you, for example a mentor, actually makes us grow as people.
“It’s great if you have proximity to them, but even if not – you might say Nelson Mandela, and actually, an awareness of the qualities Nelson Mandela had can help you grow as a person.
“If someone inspires us, it lights a flame. We’ve all got all of these energies in us, it’s just about becoming conscious, and choosing to turn the flame up on that part of yourself.”
What Would I Do If I Knew I Couldn’t Fail?
“The fear of failure can be crippling,” says Sims. “We don’t go after the job we want, we don’t speak up when we need to, and we don’t try to lose weight in case it doesn’t go to plan.
“The alternative is easy: opting for the safe choice and, ultimately, a safe life. If you decided to go for what you wanted, you’d see that failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because it’s all learning.
“Instead, if you start off down one road and it doesn’t happen to work out the way you’d hoped for, on the journey you might find something out or meet someone else. That new discovery might become the new journey, but you would have never figured it out unless you decided to go for it in the first place.”
What Does Fun Look Like To Me?
At an age where childhood is a distant memory, yet retirement seems an abstract concept, it’s crucial to remember that enjoying yourself is not a crime.
“Fun gives us life, it provides a balance,” says Richardson. “But things that were fun when you were a child, a teenager, or even in your early twenties might no longer be relevant.
“So as you approach 30 – what is fun? What do you love doing? Often people in their thirties get so job focused, but bringing in a bit of fresh energy can enhance your career as well as your life.”
Is Marriage For Me?
Marriage is something most people won’t even question,” admits Serwa. “The rebels and high achievers are the ones who question it. What do you like about marriage? How does it serve you and your partner? Does it support your life vision?
“Because if not, now is the time to get clear, so you can find someone who wants the same as you. You don’t have to settle for the traditional relationship process and dynamic. You can be creative and design the relationship you want with new rules.”
Is Parenting For Me?
“Similar to the societal assumption of marriage, many will assume they want kids without bringing the question to consciousness,” says Serwa. “I say this is dangerous.
“There are many terrible parents out there, simply because if they’d asked this question, they’d find they don’t want them. To know your answer will mean you can commit either way.
“If you want them, you can then plan for it. If you don’t, save yourself and your partner some heartache. Plus, it means you can focus on finding a partner on the same page, and the same mission as you.”
Am I Healthy?
You are alive, but this does not automatically mean your insides are thriving.
Luckily, “You are still young enough at 30 to be able to make massive changes to your health,” says Richardson. “But unless you really do take stock and get conscious of it, then some of the seeds that we’re planting now will manifest at a later stage in life.
“If you never do any exercise then, age 50, man – that’s going to show. If you take it up at 40, it’s better than not taking up at all but, at 30, you’ve still got so much natural, vital energy.”