Approaching 30 and lost

maddy.ap's picture
Rank: Monkey | banana points 45

I am turning 30 this month and looking back now I realize how little of my goals I have achieved (professionally and personally)

I make around $150k a year, hardly enough to make a decent living in Manhattan. Not in IBD but in a similar role.

In a good really work week, I have barely enough time to get some sleep. Otherwise, I have no social life and live a sleep deprived existence.

I have had 2 bosses since undergrad - one abusive like hell, the other who works everyone to death (with super high expectations and little money).

I have always heard stories about those who made it by age 30, but for someone like I am coming to the realization that I might never reach my goals.

I was wondering if I am being too negative or if it is totally normal for people to be struggling even at this age?

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Comments (46)

Nov 11, 2018

Assuming you started working latest at 23 and you are 28-29 by now, the hardest times should have passed. It could be one of 3 things; you're not good at what you do and cannot get promoted to a better work-life balance role (I think this is unlikely), you haven't found the motivation to push through and get to a good work-life balance role or finally, this industry you are in isn't for you. If you don't see things getting better in the next 2-3 years independent of how much work you put in, perhaps you should look at your skill set and see where else it could be used (both from a different job and different geography perspective).

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Most Helpful
Nov 11, 2018
maddy.ap:

I was wondering if I am being too negative or if it is totally normal for people to be struggling even at this age?

Absolutely! It's tough to see other people who have "made it" and then look at your life in comparison.

Just look at that fucker who was name the CFO of Heinz at 29! I mean seriously?!?! Here I am, switching careers into finance at 30 and this douche nozzle has the audacity to command the financials of a $26bn+ revenue company!

Not that I'm bitter or anything (truly, I'm not), but you'll go insane using the outliers as a measuring stick. Also, on the other end of the spectrum, there are plenty of stories of F500 leaders and mega-billionaires who didn't really "make it" until their 40's or 50's. This isn't to say that if you don't have a billion by 50 you've failed, but rather to say that life isn't a set path on a straight line. Everyone has different challenges they have to deal with and different goals to which they measure success by.

It almost sounds like you're having a pre-midlife crisis. It's normal to look back at your life and doubt some decisions and wish some things had gone differently. I went through the same thing at 28-29 and that jumpstarted my push to switch careers and do something I enjoy. I'm now 31 and fucking crushing it. Am I raking in millions with a 12% carry, absolutely not. However, compared to peers in my same position, I am a Golden God. Imparting from my own experience, I can think of a few things that will help you going forward.

  1. Think of what you wanted to be growing up. I'm not talking about astronaut or porn star. What did high school you want to do? Is that still applicable? If that sounds appealing, give it a shot. Maybe not cannonball into it by switching careers but maybe dip a toe in by volunteering for a related cause, sitting on a board, or even just meeting people in that field.
  2. Where do you want to be in 30 years? At a broad level, what steps do you have to take to get there? Are you making progress towards that 30 year goal?
  3. Stop looking at social media.

If none of this rambling does it for you, set different goals. I should specify that they should be achievable. In setting these goals, establish milestones along the way to track progress. If you want an MBA by 35, milestone goals would be making a budget to make that possible, taking practice GMATs, reaching out to b-school alum, submitting applications, etc.

In summation, life isn't a competition. Be you, be happy.

Nov 11, 2018

Plenty of time to find success whatever that definition is for you. I started college late (that is an entirely different story!) and eventually got accepted to medical school and my adopted father was a doctor and he and his collegues were burnt out. They basically talked me out of going. I deferred my enrollment and instead went to law school and graduated in 2011. I hit the worst legal job market in the history of the profession. It was bad. Offers were being rescinded, firms going bankrupt, etc. I couldn't land a job to save my life and finally spent the next several years working for a small boutique real estate firm. Went and got a full-time MBA from a top 50 school. I was one of the oldest in my class. I will be 40 very soon. However, I got to intern with Related Companies and then several other solid real estate shops afterwards. I have recently pivoted and now currently do M&A for one of the biggest retailers on the planet. I am looking to move back into real estate soon. I am friends with numerous people younger than me that are way more succesful. I recently met a guy my age that was an orthopedic surgeon pulling in serious bank. Made me think what my life would have been if I had gone to med school instead. The "what-if" and comparison game is a dangerous game and you will go crazy. Don't get discouraged. Just keep moving forward and working hard. Success will come.

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Nov 13, 2018

Yea, thinking of what could have been, will drive you crazy.

Nov 11, 2018

There was a trend on here last week about what constitutes "starting on third base". Take a look at your life and maybe you'll be happy to get where are you. Someone might be crushing it in banking, but maybe they had better connections than you. Really, you just to need focus on yourself.

Also, $150k isn't a horrible salary (depending on your time), but you should still be able to save something (if you're working all the time, probably not spending it out).

As @John Pierpoint said, maybe stay off of social media. It can cocoon you a little bit. It's kinda like how people think they have a better chance of winning the lottery because all they see are winners; or people who make ~$15mn a year, but think they're poor because they keep comparing themselves to people making $150mn. Just have perspective.

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Nov 13, 2018

Yup, social media is the devil...
Gets me sometimes too.. lol

Nov 11, 2018

Lol man

1) You're making more than like 99% of people. Be thankful.

2) Look at Dominic Barton's (outgoing McKinsey global head). He got rejected for partner several times over before making it. He only really hit his stride late in the game.

3) 90% of the population looks at the top 10% of Linkedin/IG/FB profiles. Of course you'll feel insignificant if all you ever do is look at what you don't have or haven't achieved.

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Nov 12, 2018

Turned 33 this year so a few things to comment that might be able to help you with pointing to the right direction:

  1. How is your financial situation? Have you paid down all of your student loans? Have you have enough nest egg saved up (about 6-12 months of your salary)? That would be something that I would set as a goal.
  2. How is your health? After 30, our metabolism rates slow down so make sure that you are not morbidly obese and there are no major health concerns. If there are working hours issues that prevent you from living healthy, then you need to make some lifestyle changes.
  3. Relationship matters? Are you married? If not perhaps time to settle into a committed long term relationship? If being married is not your thing, then drop off any dating for now.
  4. Career Planning? Most of the time I think 30-35 is where you move to the next level of your career like being a VP/ Director so take time to look at a company or a sector that you really enjoy and take some career risks. If all else failed, go back to a regular job in 35 - that is assuming that you don't have a marriage and a mortgage to support. I think it is really important to find the right boss/mentor/partner at this stage of your career since you want to be able to lock into a situation where you are free to start your own business on the side while working at your full time job or a boss/mentor who is willing to take you along for any future potential business ventures.
  5. Spirituality. Get some meditation session in. Go travel and see the world. I think once you pass 30, you should like yourself well enough before other people can appreciate who you are as a person. I am sure all of us are not perfect but it is better to accept who you are as a person rather trying to be someone else; and surrounds yourself with people who are okay with you being you.
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Nov 12, 2018

Good words

Nov 18, 2018
Naoki Hanzawa:

Turned 33 this year so a few things to comment that might be able to help you with pointing to the right direction:

  1. How is your financial situation? Have you paid down all of your student loans? Have you have enough nest egg saved up (about 6-12 months of your salary)? That would be something that I would set as a goal.
  2. How is your health? After 30, our metabolism rates slow down so make sure that you are not morbidly obese and there are no major health concerns. If there are working hours issues that prevent you from living healthy, then you need to make some lifestyle changes.
  3. Relationship matters? Are you married? If not perhaps time to settle into a committed long term relationship? If being married is not your thing, then drop off any dating for now.
  4. Career Planning? Most of the time I think 30-35 is where you move to the next level of your career like being a VP/ Director so take time to look at a company or a sector that you really enjoy and take some career risks. If all else failed, go back to a regular job in 35 - that is assuming that you don't have a marriage and a mortgage to support. I think it is really important to find the right boss/mentor/partner at this stage of your career since you want to be able to lock into a situation where you are free to start your own business on the side while working at your full time job or a boss/mentor who is willing to take you along for any future potential business ventures.
  5. Spirituality. Get some meditation session in. Go travel and see the world. I think once you pass 30, you should like yourself well enough before other people can appreciate who you are as a person. I am sure all of us are not perfect but it is better to accept who you are as a person rather trying to be someone else; and surrounds yourself with people who are okay with you being you.

Lots of good advice here. My financial situation is OK, I have saved enough for 6 months but health has taken serious downward trend. I fall sick very often, even my primary care doctor says that the job is taking a toll on my body.

Its almost impossible to date, even if I wanted to. The guy I work for doesnt give a crap. His whole idea of the job is that "If I pay you, I own you". He doesnt say it directly but I have heard him talk about ex-employees and its scary the way he thinks.

At the end of the day, its all about time. Taking into account extra sleep I get on weekends just to get my head back in shape, I only really get a couple of hours that I could do something apart from work. I am using that time to look for other jobs, but unfortunately, that little time flies away and I always struggle to find time to recruit.

Nov 18, 2018

Then you should move into a much better job for the time being. Have you considered corporate strategy/ business development in the sector that you currently covered to move out? If you already saved 6 months of salary and if this is really taking a serious toll on your health and you really can't find the time to get out - perhaps it is about time to take a risk and just leave the firm. If you are relatively competent - I am sure you can find something in a short period of time. Good luck.

Nov 12, 2018

It sounds like you need a different boss.

Nov 13, 2018

That's what I think too.

Nov 14, 2018
budnik1977:

That's what I think too.

My overall quality of life improved greatly when I got fired and went to a less stressful job. It gave me more time to pursue (and discover new) interests and just gave me space to breath. I think the OP needs something similar. Not exercising every day and not getting enough sleep just gives you a really poor foundation on which to build your life.

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Nov 12, 2018

Issue 1 - Salary You are close to the top 10% of household income for NYC, one of the most expensive and competitive cities in the world. You're doing fine.

Solution Accept you are earning a good salary and stop comparing yourself to others. Social media is not helpful but I also find WSO can be quite negative as well. This site tends to be populated by two types of people. The first group are older successful guys. They have done well and are still driven/career focused so they still hang around. There is a huge selection bias here amongst experienced people who have been successful. The second group are college kids who have a completely warped view of the world. We all see the posts from the guy who thinks you should be earning $300k in an FP&A role with 5 years experience because that's what his friends cousin who went to community college gets.

Issue 2 - Sleep
This needs to be your number 1 priority. Bad sleep leads to all sort of mental and physical issues. Younger guys can do it over a short period of time but you're 30 and have been working for years. This shit will kill you.

Solution Get minimum 7 hours a night. No excuse. Honestly push back on your boss if you cannot get that. You are not being paid enough to not be able to get 7 hours a night. Really is as simple as that.

Issue 3 - Job Your boss sucks big swinging donkey balls. You need to get out asap. You should have options between staying at your current salary and taking a big cut in working hours and keeping the hours high and getting paid more. You're biggest issue now aside from sleep is that your hourly pay rate sucks.

Solution Get a new job

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Nov 12, 2018

As an 'old' man I can't say enough about the sleep part. Makes a huuuge difference

Nov 13, 2018

Yes!!

Nov 12, 2018

100% agree.

OP, Zatopek has nicely outlined the main issues at play here. Listen to all solutions.

One thing I'd like to add, which has always worked for me, is to surround yourself with people/ a community you want to be around. Takes some work and a good sense of playing nice with others, but it's worth it. Perhaps it's time to put more consideration on interpersonal connections (ie your social life).

This includes:

1) your working environment (obviously your boss isn't helping; bonus points if office friends are possible)

2) perhaps getting into a hobby or sports (sense of camaraderie / community is always uplifting)

3) Last but not least, make sure your relationship with family members is healthy (of course case to case basis but you get the picture).

[Optional] 4) Date / Marry / you get it

Life's too short my friend. Make the necessary changes especially if you can't even consider doing any of these. Not a sustainable way to live.

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Nov 18, 2018
Zatopek:

Issue 2 - Sleep
This needs to be your number 1 priority. Bad sleep leads to all sort of mental and physical issues. Younger guys can do it over a short period of time but you're 30 and have been working for years. This shit will kill you.

Just to echo this.
The marginal cost of the 8pm to 9pm hour is higher than the cost of the hour from 4 to 5pm.
And the marginal cost of the midnight to 1am shift is exponentially higher.

What i am trying to say here, is that to make it "worth it" (and even then it's debatable as there is a hard cap on what your body can sustain) to spend so much time working until 2am, the value proposition must me an order of magnitude if not 2 above what you could get with a normal schedule.

So because your boss isn't suddenly going to pay you 2m$ for staying until 3am doing some pointless slides, you need to tell him to fuck off.

    • 1
Nov 12, 2018

What are your goals? Your mindset is sort of derived from the expectations you set for yourself.

For example: An investment banker who earns $1 million and receives $500k bonus every year is expecting that bonus this year; however, the banker instead gets $300k. He/she ends up depressed for months, incapacitated, affecting their work production and downward spiraling...

In other words, especially if you are a regular on this forum, you should constantly check to see if your goals are indeed realistic. This is not to say that you should 'quit' or 'settle'. Just a simple checkup of what your really want versus keeping up with the rat race.

You are granted a very special, very limited gift, life.

Also, a lot of great advice on this thread.

Nov 13, 2018
HandsOfMidas:

For example: An investment banker who earns $1 million and receives $500k bonus every year is expecting that bonus this year; however, the banker instead gets $300k. He/she ends up depressed for months, incapacitated, affecting their work production and downward spiraling...

I get what you are saying. It's crazy to think that someone would get down when getting 300K for a bonus, but I also think it has to do with the bankers expenses. Not saying 300K isn't a lot of money, but I don't think the banker is investing his entire bonus, that 200K was probably ear marked in this situation.

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Nov 13, 2018

Are you a lawyer? haha. No we are just splitting hairs. At the end of the day, if you are a banker, or any profession that has a budget dependent on hitting a bonus, you should reevaluate your expenses.

Your perspective is appreciated.

Nov 13, 2018

I agree with what you said.

I'm thinking about it less as the $200k is needed for a budget, but just for the extras of life someone might want.

Nov 12, 2018

The key point here is that you live in Manhattan. Go make 20-30% less in the SW or SE US and you will have a much better lifestyle.

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Nov 12, 2018

You should read the first part of Barbarians at the Gates. Ross Johnson, the former CEO of RJR Nabisko, really didnt do anything impressive in his career until his 40s. He was controller of small businesses.

Nov 12, 2018
takenotes08:

You should read the first part of Barbarians at the Gates. Ross Johnson, the former CEO of RJR Nabisko, really didnt do anything impressive in his career until his 40s. He was controller of small businesses.

Kid was a stud with that paper round though.

Nov 12, 2018

Don't be so hard on yourself. There's some great perspective above, I would just underscore the fact that by definition, "making it" is difficult. If you're like me, you're thinking, yeah F You buddy, that doesn't help, and I get it. People who self-select into this community (and broader finance roles etc) have crazy expectations of themselves.

Personally I think your first goal should be to get out of a toxic work environment, though I can't tell you how that scenario should play out or what you should do next. But you're young and there are plenty of different roads you can take.

I'm older than you and most on this board, and I'm actually interviewing for a position that'd be a total game changer for me. My attitude is that I'm not in a race, and I have to define my goals differently these days and not be concerned with who's already made partner/VP/etc.

Nov 12, 2018

I was in my mid-30s when I developed my values. You have to determine what your values are and then build your life around those. I value balance, family, the outdoors, etc. In my 20s and early 30s, I overindexed my identity with my job. Work to live, don't live to work. Might be time to move and reprioritize what is important. You'll have many adventures in business, but it sounds like you may have learned one lesson...optimize on the people, when you decide to work for a company.

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Nov 12, 2018

A lot of comments here. I hope you, Madd.ap, and those who commented above also comment on my comment.

I'm in a similar but different situation, I guess worse than yours except my work hours (50hrs/wk).
I just turned 28 last month and am a first-year analyst!!! at a private equity debt fund earning less than two thirds!!! of your salary. (I earned my bachelor from an Ivy League at the age of 25.!!!..although Ivy League...but the age embarrassed me in the classroom). My first job was something I didn't like and I did that for 19 months. Then, thanks God and luckily, I got in my current company, as an Analyst for almost about one year. I like my job and love what I'm doing, where I apply what I studied to the real world.
But when you calm down after the excitement of having a sort-of your dream job, I realized that how far behind I'm at. I'm 28, and those people in my age at my company are Sr. Associate and 2nd associate, and VP, AVP, and I'm 1st year analyst.
I mean, compared to those who I grew up with in the "ghetto", I'm like a golden gold having a decent job and earning twice amount of what they make. This doesn't make me proud in the office.
I started late in my career and had a detour before landing my current job... and now I'm also approaching 30 soon .. in just two short year. Compared to those in the industry, I am like, I have to work triple hard and do triple amount of the work to and to even tried to get to the same level achieved by those in my age, 28.
Every moment when I look back, how I got to where I'm at right now, it's all the bitter and sweet. For those who have seen the movie "The Pursuit of Happiness", I feel like I can truly understand Chris Gardner/Will Smith, to say the least.

    • 6
Nov 13, 2018

People need to get laid more often.

    • 2
Nov 12, 2018

"Approaching 30 and losing my mind"

Nov 12, 2018

I hear ya. I am not gonna sugarcoat it, but things are only gonna get worse from here on. I am 36 so I speak from experience. I observed that your desirability drops like a rock after the age of about 34. I have been trying to change jobs and have gone through about 10 processes in the last couple of months - and was rejected by every single one, in favor of a slightly younger and slightly cheaper guy. You would think that your experience and network that you've built counts - and you'd be dead wrong. Most employers want cheap bodies, once you age out - you're dead meat, stick a fork in you. Since you're not making nearly enough to have f-u money within 5 years, I would suggest a radical re-evaluation of your priorities and LT goals. May be switch to corporate/client before its too late, move industries, cities, do something to change the course. You still have time so use it wisely.

    • 2
Nov 13, 2018
sg2015:

I hear ya. I am not gonna sugarcoat it, but things are only gonna get worse from here on. I am 36 so I speak from experience. I observed that your desirability drops like a rock after the age of about 34. I have been trying to change jobs and have gone through about 10 processes in the last couple of months - and was rejected by every single one, in favor of a slightly younger and slightly cheaper guy. You would think that your experience and network that you've built counts - and you'd be dead wrong. Most employers want cheap bodies, once you age out - you're dead meat, stick a fork in you. Since you're not making nearly enough to have f-u money within 5 years, I would suggest a radical re-evaluation of your priorities and LT goals. May be switch to corporate/client before its too late, move industries, cities, do something to change the course. You still have time so use it wisely.

That's crazy about the 10 job processes. I'm somewhat there as well.

Always boggles me when you get that far and they say no thanks. Then you turn on CNBC and employers talk about how they can't find talent. Just doesn't add up.

    • 2
Nov 13, 2018

It's almost as though the BLS is massively massaging the UE statistics to create the illusion of economic improvement... nah, never mind.

    • 1
Nov 13, 2018
sg2015:

I hear ya. I am not gonna sugarcoat it, but things are only gonna get worse from here on. I am 36 so I speak from experience. I observed that your desirability drops like a rock after the age of about 34. I have been trying to change jobs and have gone through about 10 processes in the last couple of months - and was rejected by every single one, in favor of a slightly younger and slightly cheaper guy. You would think that your experience and network that you've built counts - and you'd be dead wrong. Most employers want cheap bodies, once you age out - you're dead meat, stick a fork in you. Since you're not making nearly enough to have f-u money within 5 years, I would suggest a radical re-evaluation of your priorities and LT goals. May be switch to corporate/client before its too late, move industries, cities, do something to change the course. You still have time so use it wisely.

Just saw an article saying companies don't realize how much they need to keep the old dawgs around longer. So, hang in there tiger.

    • 2
Nov 13, 2018

Have you considered private wealth? I'm in a similar situation (close to your age and not satisfied with my current career trajectory) and am currently studying for the Series 65 . I figure if nothing else, I'll have the license, so I can start hunting for clients while still employed with my current firm. If/when I reach critical mass (i.e. enough clients to keep me busy/pay the bills) I will pivot to financial planning full time. Is the likelihood of success high? No. But it gives me a goal and something to strive towards. At your age and with a background in finance, you should be able to pass yourself off as a reasonably experienced and trustworthy guy, rather than some 24 yr old kid cold calling from Edward Jones (which is the bulk of your competition for retail clients). Just food for thought.

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Nov 13, 2018

All due respect, but I'm having a hard time sympathizing with you. Lets be clear, you have indeed "made it". You mention you're not in IB, but a similar role. Take a few minutes to read through this site and you'll quickly realize how many kids on here dream to break in to your industry and fail, repeatedly.

In regards to your salary--although $150k isn't necessarily top tier, you're still in the top 10% in one of the highest tax burden states. If this isn't desirable enough for you, let this fuel your motivation.

When all is said and done, if you're still unhappy at the end of the day perhaps you might want to consider what it is that provides you with gratification. You're employed in arguably one of the hardest industry's to break in to and I'm sure you resume reflects your hard work. Keep your head up and begin focusing on your dreams.

To echo others, STOP CHECKING SOCIAL MEDIA

    • 3
Nov 13, 2018

You make 150k a year you have no room to complain. Go out for drinks more. Problem solved.

    • 2
Nov 13, 2018

You can only compare yourself to your own benchmark, not others'. It doesn't matter where you are, it matters how far you have travelled.

Life isn't a linear equation.

    • 1
Nov 13, 2018
patiencepays:

You can only compare yourself to your own benchmark, not others'. It doesn't matter where you are, it matters how far you have travelled.

Life isn't a linear equation.

With all due respect this is BS. Nobody cares how far you've travelled and you don't get a medal for participation in real life... it's just not how things work.

    • 1
Nov 13, 2018

Have you considered moving to a more chill state with lower COL and taking a similar job ? Could really help address some of your issues. Btw, as someone who has technically moved up the ranks relatively quick, I'm no happier than when I was more junior. I am slightly less stressed sometimes, that's about it. I know that's not your only concern but it's worth understanding that a guy making 75k can be much happier and healthier than a guy making 750k. Best of luck, I hope you can find a better work environment and get some rest and time to pursue something you enjoy.

Nov 17, 2018

A lot of good advice here. To be clear, you can feel this way at any age. I went to a top MBA and for a number of years after i was completely miserable. My expectations were incredibly high. The problem was that i insisted on working in an industry (consulting) that just wasnt suited to me. What i loved was stock picking, and i decided id do whatever it takes to get there. Life still isnt perfect, but at least i fundamentally enjoy what i do, and so i do well. For my age, im way behind compared to guys who started in finance out of college, but im fine with that. Your resume is probably more solid than you realize. Google and Amazon, for example, will take a look at just about anyone with brand name experience. Joining a start-up is also increasingly attractive these days. The most successful people i know all started their own businesses.

Nov 18, 2018

welcome to the club

You killed the Greece spread goes up, spread goes down, from Wall Street they all play like a freak, Goldman Sachs 'o beat.

Nov 18, 2018