Why working in your 30s isn’t what you expect

Why working in your 30s isn’t what you expect

They say 30 is the age that officially marks your adulthood. Whether you believe this or not, it is undeniable that turning 30 is a significant step for most people.  

Eudie Pak of Huffington Post aptly defines being in your 30s as “…a period where we’re preoccupied with accruing bloated titles at work, getting that corner office, getting married, not getting married, having kids, avoiding having kids, etc.” Sounds a little perplexing? It is, and don’t be so surprised.

Being in your 30s comes with its own unique set of struggles and challenges that you need to deal with. For some, work and relationship pressures are what truly characterize being in your 30s. For some, it’s all about finding time to do something else. For others however, the biggest struggle is trying not to feel old.

Let’s take a look at some of the more intricate challenges that come with facing this significant decade in your life.

Moving up the career ladder

Professionals are expected to transition into leadership roles in their 30s. While this may seem like part of the natural course of one’s career, this can also be an added pressure for some individuals. Dealing with the pressure to excel at work and subsequently move up the career ladder may cause a lot of stress and frustration to others.

Melissa Dahl of New York Magazine wrote an article entitled ‘Work is the Worst When You’re in Your 30s’ highlighting how low levels of job satisfaction and high levels of emotional exhaustion of workers in their thirties can make people miserable.

“It is a popular internet thing to focus on the upside of being in your 30s, and it is nice to know how to do basic modern-human-being things like paying your taxes and cooking a simple meal. But it can be a less-rosy story at work,” she writes.

Her article uses the finding of a research published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology which revealed that a dip in workplace happiness usually happens around the 30s.

Keeping up with ‘new kids’ at work

Dreamy eyed, full of vigour and a little clueless about the workings of the world- twenty-year olds may remind you of yourself not so long ago only that this time around, they are much smarter and savvier.

You know all too well that it’s just a matter of time before the ‘new kids’ in the workforce end up in equal footing as you and so you need to make a conscious effort to keep up with them.

Writing for The Wall Street Journal, lawyer and former politician Martin Frost mentions that “the hardest part about working with younger employees is to recognize what they know that you don’t and to understand that there are things you know that they haven’t experienced and how to balance the two.”

Also for The Wall Street Journal, Moly Mettles, vice president of Healthwise Inc., underlines the fact that while younger workers’ attitude may be far less desirable for their older counterparts, dealing with them may just be a matter of perspective.

“It’s hard on everyone if generational differences in the workplace are seen as a drag rather than a gift. You can choose to see that headphone-wearing, texting, eye-rolling co-worker as brash, disrespectful and self-entitled or you can see them as wired, aware and ready to collaborate. What’s it going to be?”

Asking for help and finding support

In your 30s, you are expected to have the better part of things figured out- both in work and in life.  You’re free from the financial and personal insecurity of the 20s and any sign on uncertainty at 30 worries you. Whenever you need help at work, there is always a hint of hesitation as to whether you’re going to ask for help or not.

And yet far more difficult than convincing yourself to ask for help when you need it is finding any when you want it. A study published on The British Psychological Society (BPS) Research Digest suggests that the support systems of people in their 30s tend to dissipate. People in their 30s, compared to their younger counterparts, are also less likely to make new friends or form new bonds in the workplace.

“Support from co-workers probably dips in midlife as peers compete for scarce resources (promotion bottlenecks are often encountered during this career stage). Also, whereas younger counterparts are often hungry to forge new social networks, and older workers seek identity-affirming work experiences in their remaining tenure, midlifers find it demanding enough just to maintain existing social networks. Meanwhile, time pressure likely intensifies mid-career as colleagues try to leverage one’s knowledge and experience.”

The silver lining

Being in your thirties comes with its own successes, struggles and a lot more things in between. The struggles, problems or difficulties you experience in your 30s may come naturally and are inherently “attached” with your age while others may be brought about by other factors.

While working in your 30s may not be anything like what you expect, there is a silver lining to it. Whatever struggles you have, they are never permanent. You may not be able to freeze time or stop yourself from turning a certain age; you have the power to overcome any difficulty that may come in your 30s and beyond. 



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