Milestones. On the one hand they're there to celebrate key stages in our life and show progress, but on the other hand, they can feel restrictive and put us under pressure. What even is the perfect life anyway?
The key with milestones is that they are quite generic, and society puts pressure on us all to meet them before a certain age. Then when you don't, you feel like a failure.
But wait, what if I haven't achieved these milestones???
Well, before you read these somewhat depressing articles, start to wave your white flag and give up on life, here's some advice. Your milestones can be whatever you want them to be. And we should celebrate achievements both great and small. Every small step forward is a win.
Your first kiss, first job, first car, first child, the list goes on. None of these things take into account where you live, your own personal preferences and what you want out of life.
It's OK, we all lead different lives
They are just a list of goals someone created for everyone to aspire to achieve. Except that whatever 'genius' created this list forgot that everyone is different. Apparently you're supposed to move out of your parents house by age 22, but did they not realise that the number of young adults living with their parents has reached a record high? The reality is that common milestones are horribly outdated.
According to the data, we're supposed to be married and have a child by aged 30. But what if kids really aren't your priority right now and you want to focus on your career for a while longer, or you might not even want kids at all. And just because you've not got your dream job by aged 35, doesn't mean you can't just switch things up and try new things. Did you know that today, the average person changes their job 15 times in their lifetime?
So, as you can see, there's no point paying attention to these milestones. Instead, you should set your own. And don't just focus on material and financial things, write a list of goals that will make you happy.
Set your own goals/milestones
You should live your own life, not follow a layout that's been set out for you. What do you want your life to look like in five, ten, fifteen or twenty years? Don't freak out because you've not bought your own house, or you've just have to move home for a year to save for a deposit. Take some time to review your situation and set realistic personal goals that give you a fresh way of motivation and zest for life. And stop comparing yourself to all your friends.
The 'why' behind the milestones
When setting your milestones, ask yourself why you want to achieve each one. Is it for yourself, or for someone else, or just because you think you're supposed to? It should always be for you. Focus on the most important person in your life - that's you - because if you're happy, satisfied and motivated, your enthusiasm will transfer to those around you.
See also: Why being selfish is good for you
Life throws you curveballs
Life's funny isn't it. Sometimes ahhhmazing, sometimes excruciatingly cruel. You can plan ahead, and work towards something, but it's fair to say occasionally life gets in the way. You may hit a few roadblocks.
But that's OK, find a way around them and adapt your milestones accordingly. Don't beat yourself up too much when things don't go your way. Figure out what's stopping you and consider what you can do to carry on that path, or carve out a new and improved one.
Your priorities may change
Part of life's journey is learning who you are and what you really want. What you want aged 25 may be totally different aged 60. You might start your twenties thinking you want to start your own billion pound business, and then realise, having a good work life balance is actually more important than tons of cash. So, make sure you constantly revisit your goals and the milestones you want to achieve to check you actually still want to achieve them.
Think outside the box when it comes to setting milestones and goals. For example, a milestone for one person might be to earn £40,000 by the age of 40, but another person may just want to feel comfortable in their own skin.
Have a look at these milestones which are based around wellness. They include things like 'learning how to be selfish' and 'learning how to deal with sadness'. Consider all aspects of your life, from your wellbeing to your health and fitness, to financial, friendship and family goals. Look at the whole picture and you'll see things more clearly.
Make your own milestones
You don't always need to follow the trend. Create your own path in life and don't compare yourself to others, just previous versions of yourself. Upskilling and doing things to change your career path for the better is a common, slightly smaller milestone. Something like running a marathon, learning a new skill or adopting a healthier lifestyle might be more important to you than buying your own house aged 25. Making your own milestones and seeing where they take you is a sure fire way to be more fulfilled. The power's in your hands.