Why Your Life’s Milestones Are Yours, And Yours Alone
Do you ever find yourself in a comparison trap?
I’ve written about the comparison trap at length before.
There is nothing like sizing your life up against another person’s to totally derail you from your own focus.
Looking sideways during your own life’s journey, is going to make it a whole lot less enjoyable.
And something which massively contributes to this distraction? Milestones.
Or more specifically, the ‘should milestones’ so many of us feel like we need to reach by a certain age. Schooling, relationships, engagement, houses, promotion, babies . . . these are YOUR milestones to enjoy, should you wish to, at the time in which they feel right for you.
In this blog post I am sharing my advice on how to reclaim and reframe your milestones, so that you can begin to enjoy your own beautiful life’s journey, for the very fact it’s yours.
Head to the end of this post for a scheduling update too.
The Dictionary Definition Of A Milestone
milestone |ˈmʌɪlstəʊn| noun
“a significant stage or event in the development of something”
Now, for the Fictionary (haha) Definition Of A ‘Should Milestone’
should milestone |ʃʊd ˈmʌɪlstəʊn| noun
“a significant stage or event in the development of something which you should have completed by a predetermined age”
see also – #LifeGoals #RelationshipGoals #HomeGoals
At twenty seven I find myself engaging in a lot of conversations about what I call ‘should milestones’.
And to be honest with you, a lot of those conversations are about how miserable those ‘shoulds’ are making my friends and people I know.
For example, if I use my own age, by twenty seven you should: have a significant other, have moved in together, have your foot on the property ladder, be thinking about engagement, you should definitely have a great job (and preferably be a couple of promotions in), and you should most likely have bought your first designer handbag too.
NB: I love my €7 straw bag more than I can tell you.
Not to mention you should have got yourself into peak bikini-ready physique year round, you should have reached 10k (at least) Instagram followers and you should be thinking about taking your side-hustle full time too, because . . . #LifeGoals, right?
The problem with ‘should milestones’?
They are milestones made on a foundation of sand.
Who is the perfect ‘should’ girl? I don’t know her!
Even the people I know who on the surface tick every ‘should milestone’, berate themselves for not reaching another one. And then another.
So trust me, you are not alone.
Instead of ‘should milestones’ let’s start looking at your milestones.
“It’s totally up to you! What do you want to do with and in your life?”
Lesson # 1 – ‘Who With’ And ‘How’ Are Way More Important Than ‘By What Age’
How you achieve your milestones, and with whom you share them, is far more important than by which age you achieve them.
Forget about the age thing, and think: “Who would I like to share my milestones with?” and “How am I going to achieve the milestones I really want to achieve?”.
For me, it took two gap years, three internships, an independent exam (which I failed once and aced the next time) to get into University.
I never would have had the same experience at university, had I follow the ‘set path’ at eighteen and gone to study a degree right away. For one I would have probably studied Economics or English Literature, which weren’t a good fit for me. And two, I would have studied at a university I didn’t particularly want to go to.
The milestone of a university education is one which I decided I wanted to pursue, only if I was certain of my course and university. It took me two extra years but I got there.
If you’re currently stuck in a ‘this doesn’t feel how I want it to’ situation, with any scenario in life, simply stop. You always have a choice. Even if it feels like the ‘normal’ thing to do at your age would be to do ‘x’ or ‘y’. It really doesn’t matter.
The ‘how’ of how you get there is far more important. If you want a University education, how are you going to get it? Would you like to study abroad? Or part-time so that you can work too? Would you like to work for a few years and then study? The choice is entirely yours, don’t let anyone tell you it’s not.
As for the ‘who with’ – oh my this is so important!
Your life’s ‘who with-s’ are WAY more important than ‘when by’.
You want the people you spend your life with to lift you up, to share their love with you, be there for you, to genuinely make your life more joyful and fun, as you do theirs.
When it comes to relationships, be picky. With your friends, your partners even your colleagues if you can. It pays to surround yourself with people who are a joy to be around, because in turn you’ll be joyful too.
If milestones such as marriage and children are a part of your life’s plans, then who you choose to create and share those milestones with is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Forget about “by thirty I’d like to be married” and begin to think (corny though it sounds!) “I’d love to meet the person that makes me smile every time they walk into a room”.
“When it comes to relationships, be picky. How you achieve your milestones, and with whom you share them, is far more important than by which age you achieve them.”
Reclaiming Your Milestones
Please know that even the Dictionary is on your side with milestones: “a significant stage or event in the development of something”.
That is about as open-ended as it comes.
What does your ‘significant stage’ look like? Your ‘development of something’?
There are an infinite number of stages, and developments that you will no doubt go through and create in your life, and each of these is your milestone and your milestone alone to claim proudly.
For me one of my ‘significant stages’ was developing a core group of girlfriends when I was waitressing during University. Those long days, often sweaty and slightly flour-y from running pizzas, were a huge milestone in my life.
But I don’t see that on the ‘should’ list.
As for the development of something? I co-founded a conference. It was a business idea that I never would have set up as a milestone if I were asked about my ‘should’ goals a few years go.
If you’re ready to look at your own milestones, try grabbing a piece of paper, and writing down significant milestones in your life.
For me these included:
-Earning my first £50 for a day’s work! Whoa, that felt like a lot of money.
-Sending my first bunch of ‘just because’ flowers to a friend.
-Learning how to do a pull up (even if it is with a bit of help).
-Signing a lease on a flat with Oli.
-Submitting my first (and any really!) tax return.
There are any number of milestones I could list, big and small, which are unique to my life’s journey.
And no doubt you have an infinite number of milestones too. Take that paper, and write a few down!
As I shared in this post, we so often forget to acknowledge all of the things we have done. As opposed to the things we haven’t.
“Milestones are not always tangible things.
Milestones can be a feeling, or emotional development too.”
Reframing Your Milestones
Sitting cosily alongside reclaiming your milestones, is another exercise I feel we can all benefit from: reframing them.
Milestones are not always tangible things.
Milestones can be a feeling, or emotional development too.
I remember the first time I negotiated a contract. It wasn’t the financial security which marked a milestone for me, but the confidence I had developed in my negotiating abilities.
It was a noticeable shift for me.
You may quit your job. The emotional freedom you feel, not to mention your courage, is a huge milestone.
Maybe your milestone is realising that you feel stronger because you’ve been focusing on your fitness.
Or your milestone is that you are calmer because you’ve been meditating.
Or your milestone is that you’ve fallen in love.
Whatever emotional marker you meet, it’s yours to treasure.
“Next time you are tempted to look sideways at anyone else’s journey, catch yourself and look straight ahead at your own.”
Overall, Why Measure Your Milestones Against Anyone Else’s?
There are some milestones which we all tend to follow, in-keeping with our ages. It’s common that your schooling will roughly follow a set pattern.
Aside from that, it’s totally up to you! What do you want to do with and in your life?
If at twenty seven you are single, travelling the world, with no fixed address and you are loving it – amazing!
If you’re twenty three and in a full-time job at a corporate company, you live with housemates and do yoga three times a week and you love it – yay for you!
And if you are in a relationship at thirty, run your own business, and have just mastered the perfect green Thai curry, and (you guessed it!) you love it – awesome!
This is your life and your milestones to set.
I truly believe that you will feel your happiest, when you follow your own life’s course. Those milestones that make up other people’s journeys are theirs, and the likelihood is that their personal recipe wouldn’t make you happy anyway.
Next time you are tempted to look sideways at anyone else’s journey, catch yourself and look straight ahead at your own.
What’s Your Take?
I’d love to know, do you feel pressured by milestones? Are there certain ‘shoulds’ you feel you need to achieve by a certain age? Or are you already living out the milestones you love, and if so, what are they?! I’d love to know!
Love, Monica x
P.S. A Scheduling Note!
This is the last blog post from me before Big Small Business on April 1st! The conference is ten days away now and I am so so excited. There are still a few tickets left if you would like to join me – here is the link to purchase.
Have a wonderful few weeks! In the mean time you can find me:
On Instagram @MonicaBeatrice
On Instagram #2 @BigSmallBusiness
Podcasting with Ella on Let’s Discuss every Tuesday
& at the Big Small Business conference.
Thank you so much for all of your support in the lead up to the conference. Of all the milestones I’ve experienced professionally, this is definitely one of the biggest (and most nerve-wracking!) to date. I’ll be marking it down for sure.
Dress: Karen Millen c/o (I can’t even tell you how much I love this dress!)
Boots: Seven Boot Lane (Past Season but Similar)
Sleeveless Jacket: Karen Millen (Past Season but Similar)
Bag: Bought in Menorca but Similar & SO Cute!
Silver Bangle: Made by Oli’s Mum