What should you have achieved by 30?
As Prince William will find out this week, turning 30 feels like a defining moment in a man’s life. So what should you have achieved as your 20s draw to a close?
Prince William turns 30 this week, and there's a fair chance that at some point he'll be sitting down with the lovely Duchess of Cambrige and asking himself what he's achieved up until now.
It is, after all, what most men do when they reach the big 3 - 0. Most of us don't have Prince William's opportunities, but our 30th birthdays are still a time to reflect on the decade just gone and to make plans for the decade ahead.
So what should you have achieved by 30? Everyone's different, but here are a few pointers.
Don't be down on 30
Quite simply, one of the most important things to have achieved before you turn 30 is the confidence to see turning 30 as a positive rather than negative experience.
"A negative association with turning 30 comes from the bad press that others give it," says life coach Georgina Burnett who tweets at @healthymistress .
"Your 30s is a great period to enter if you allow yourself to ignore the bad press and focus on the benefits. See it as an exciting chapter in your life, and it will be one."
You'll probably have spent a year hearing comments about your forthcoming 'old man' status. Ignore them. Your 30s are the perfect marriage of youthfulness and maturity.
* On MSN Him: Quiz: Are you a confident man?
Career and money
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average UK salary for full-time employees was £26,200 in 2011. By the end of your 20s, with school, college, training and some years of work experience behind you, you may well be on the way to reaching that figure. Some late 20-somethings, of course, will have long since surpassed it.
But your 20s will also have been a decade of mistakes and missteps and the occasional career cul-de-sac. That's fine, as long as you've learned from them. And as you approach 30, you should be developing a new confidence in your power to succeed.
"If you're the ambitious type, your career is probably entering the phase of really getting going where you're reaching the upper positions you've been working towards, and your confidence is such that you really know you can make it now so there's no need to keep looking over your shoulder," says Burnett.
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Not everybody is a high-flier, though. But even if money and status are not what drive you on, your 20s should have left you with, if nothing else, a clearer vision of the path you want to follow. After a few years of experimentation, you may even have found a role that suits your character.
"If you're not the ambitious type, it's likely you've found yourself in a comfortable position by now where you have your work/life balance sorted as you don't feel the need to stay until 10pm to prove yourself to your colleagues."
In other words, you may or may not be in your ideal job as you turn 30, but a decade of making mistakes, learning from them and moving on should have left you well-equipped to find that perfect job in the coming decade.
Romance and relationships
The average age for first marriage for men in 2010 was 32. So if you're not far off 30 and, unlike the Duke of Cambridge, you remain steadfastly unmarried, don't beat yourself up about it.
It's the same with children. Few men expect to have a child by the time they hit 30 any more. In fact, two-thirds of children are born to fathers older than 30.
But if the statistics are right, marriage may not be too long away, so you may reach 30 already in a relationship with your future wife. And if not, again, don't fret. According to the ONS, there are now 7.7 million single households in the UK.
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Other figures show that the number of single women has doubled in the last three decades, so there are still plenty of fish in the sea.
So if you're not married or in a serious relationship, what should you have achieved, romantically, by 30? Well, a little heartache won't have gone amiss.
"If you've been through painful experiences with friends and loved ones, it may be that you have accumulated years of bitterness and as a result are now a guarded cynic," says Burnett. "However, if you want to make the most of your life you could see the benefit of having lived through these experiences by taking note of what you have learned about yourself and others."
Again, your 20s are a learning experience. The least you should hope for by the end of them is to have gained insight from your romantic mistakes. By 30 you should know what you want from a relationship, whether or not you're looking for something serious, and what type of partner suits you best. To achieve that would have been to achieve quite a lot.
"Armed with this kind of valuable information, from your years of experimenting, whether you're single or in a relationship, you should consider yourself an expert and you can start to surround yourself with the right people, and bring the best out of them through your own behaviour," says Burnett.
And what about friends? You should have hundreds by the time your 30, surely, and you probably do on Facebook.
But what about real friends, the close confidantes who you know personally and the people you feel you could turn to in times of need? According to one recent study, most of us have... drum roll... two.
So if you reach 30 without lots of close friends, don't worry. As long as you've got a couple of really good ones, it may be all you need.
* On MSN Him: How many friends does a man need?
So what should you have achieved as the big day approaches? From the evidence, it seems that - contrary to the experience of previous generations - very little in a man's life is set in stone by the age of 30.
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