10 Things I Did Before I Was 33 (And You Should Too)

I celebrated my 33rd birthday on February 1st. I’ve always used my birthdays as a reset button for the new year. I set goals on January 1st, but usually don’t get motivated to pursue them until my birthday rolls around and it’s officially a new year for me.

In honor of my 33rd birthday, I’m sharing 10 important things I’ve done in my short time here on Earth.

1) Expanded my palette

The first twenty years of my life I subsisted on chicken strips and fries. I was scared to death of flavor, intolerant of spice, and happy to live in my mashed potato bubble. My ex-boyfriend’s father was an excellent cook and I tried many new things at his house with the sole motivation of looking good in front of his family. Even though the relationship didn’t last, I left with a love of avocados, Peking duck, and Indian food. There is so much good food out there, try it!

2) Got over my childhood (for the most part)

I quietly carried the brunt of my dysfunctional family until my mid-twenties. At that point, it came to a head, I was regularly crying and raging over what had happened during my childhood. I had flipped the switch from “everything was cool” to “everything was horrible” and I couldn’t get out of the funk. Thoughts about my past encompassed 90% of my brain space and even crowded into my current situation and made me doubt my present relationships. I came from a we-don’t-need-help family and when I was able to break that stigma and talk to a therapist, the relief was nearly immediate. After several months of therapy, I gained the tools to deal with my past and present. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel bad about things or have times when I wallow in it, but I’m a lot better off than I was before. My past doesn’t dictate my future and neither does yours. Get help if you need it.

3) Took a big risk

I wouldn’t say I’m risk-adverse. I was always the friend convincing her more cautious friends to do something daring. One boring evening, I led the charge to go get something pierced, just for fun. However, when it came to my work history, I followed the straight and narrow. I had one career after college and I intended to stay there indefinitely even though I wasn’t able to express myself creatively and it wasn’t really what I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life (though I enjoyed the work). During bed rest and maternity leave while pregnant with my daughter, I had a lot of time to think about what I wanted to do with my life. This led to me resigning from my job and beginning a work from home career. That blossomed into my own business and led me to where I am today. I was scared to take a risk, but if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have experienced the happiness, excitement and career satisfaction I feel now. Make a plan and then make the leap, it’s worth it.

4) Cut out toxic people

I’ve made the tough decision to have limited or no contact with several people in my life. I agonized over these decisions and kept expressing my hurt, waiting for the person(s) to change. Spoiler alert – they never did. Don’t give your time to people who make you feel bad about yourself. Just don’t. It’s better to have no one to talk to then have someone who makes you feel worse every time you talk to them. This advice even applies to family. Just because someone has known you for a long time or is related to you doesn’t mean they deserve a place in your life. You don’t have to know someone forever, so don’t. You can stop talking abruptly or do the slow fade, but just get the people out of your life. Your deserve to be happy.

5) Made a commitment

I said I’d never get married until I met my husband. When he proposed, it felt right and I wasn’t worried about the lifelong commitment any longer. Making a commitment is hard enough to keep without forcing yourself into it in the first place. Being committed to something has made me a better person. I was flaky and hard to reach when I was younger and being with someone for an extended length of time bored me. Obviously marriage isn’t always perfect, but I know that hanging in there through the tough times leads to some of the best times. You don’t have to get married to make a commitment, vow to do something that you want to do and see it through. It will give you the same satisfaction.

6) Saw some of the world

It took me into my 30s to realize I don’t really like traveling. So many people feel that traveling is THE thing to do. If you can see the world then you’ve made it and you’re a more fully formed human than those who stay in the same place for their entire lives. While I love the idea of traveling, I don’t enjoy the actuality of it. I’ve seen around 15 states, been on tropical beach vacation, saw some ancient churches, and flown internationally – for now, I’m good. So, maybe I’ll be a less cultured person that someone else, but as they say, is the juice worth the squeeze? And for me, it’s not. If traveling makes you happy, do it. If you prefer to stay local, there’s nothing wrong with that either.

7) Forgave

Anger is a smooth talker. It will always make you feel that you are justified in your feelings. When someone wrongs you, whether they did it on purpose or not, whether they are sorry or not, whether they will do it again or not, just forgive. Holding onto anger is toxic. Forgiveness takes nothing from you, it doesn’t prove the person was right, it just allows you to move past the event. I spent a lot of my youth raging at machines and it ultimately just wore me out. It gave me a hard shell that made me distrustful of anyone’s intentions. Once I figured out that my reaction to the situation mattered more than the actual situation, it became a lot easier to choose peace and forgive. Let go of a grievance and your soul will feel lighter.

8) Got my sleep

I’ve always loved sleep. Even as a child, I was slow to wake up and could stay in bed until the afternoon. I enjoyed my time sleeping in until I turned 30 and had my daughter. Once that happened, sleep became something that was less controlled by me and more controlled by the whims of a tiny dictator. Enjoy your sleep, revel in your sleep. Get your sleep while the sleeping’s good. I’m sure I’ll sleep soundly again…someday.

9) Experienced unconditional love

I don’t think I could have ever experienced true love had I not had my daughter. I love my husband, and I’ve loved men before him, but it’s not the same. The love I have for my daughter could move mountains. It has changed my life in the best possible way. I am kinder and braver than I was before she was born. I was petrified of having children, possibly intuiting that some core part of myself would break loose when it happened, but it was the best decision I have ever made. Having children is not for everyone, and I don’t doubt that a person can find the same type of unconditional love for an animal, significant other, or even career, but for me, it’s my daughter.

10) Shared my light

I’ve bailed two ex-boyfriends out of jail, picked people up in the middle of night when I was barely able to focus my gritty eyes on the road, taken someone to a concert at the last minute when their other friend bailed, given dozens of people money (overtly or secretly), complimented strangers, hugged people who were crying in public, left giftcards on car windshields, sent anonymous Valentine’s, donated my time and money to local charities, and sincerely told no less than 30 people that I thought they were beautiful. Kind actions are always out of my comfort zone and they always take bravery, but I know these actions make an impact. The world needs all the good we can put into it, especially now.

I’m not afraid of aging, I’ve only become more confident, less concerned about people’s opinions of me, and happier as I’ve gotten older. I wish the same for you.

33

How to Get Over Self-Limiting Beliefs

Self-limiting beliefs can be one of the biggest barriers to success that a freelancer can face. These negative thoughts can be confidence killers that cause you to doubt your ability to make it on your own. Self-limiting beliefs are the negative opinions you hold about yourself and your abilities. They may manifest as a voice in the back of your mind that says things like “You can’t do it…You’re going to fail…You’re not smart enough…Don’t bother.”

Getting rid of self-limiting beliefs isn’t easy. Doing work on yourself and your mindset is the hardest work you can do. If you’re struggling with self-limiting beliefs, here are some things you do to get out of that negative headspace.

Read self-help books and articles

One of the best, and cheapest, ways to get over your self-limiting beliefs is to learn how to combat the negative voice in your mind. You can find books on the topic at your local library or on Amazon.

Here are some books that I’ve found helpful:

Mastering Your Mean Girl: The No-BS Guide to Silencing Your Inner Critic and Becoming Wildly Wealthy, Fabulously Healthy, and Bursting with Love by Melissa Ambrosini

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Do the (self) work

A lot of people are running around desperate to avoid silence and thinking about their lives, their actions, and their mentality. The world makes it very easy to keep yourself incredibly busy. You may never have to deal with how you feel about yourself. But if you never address your negative emotions, then you’ll eventually find yourself in a very unhappy place.

The people who become comfortable dealing with their emotions and looking at themselves with a critical eye are the ones who make the most spiritual progress in their time on Earth.

Not only is self-work spending time thinking about yourself, it’s also reading self-improvement books and trying the strategies you read about. It’s about changing your behavior as much as it as about observing it. If you are completely self-aware, but never make any changes, you won’t grow as a person.

If you’re having negative thoughts about yourself, challenge them! If you are feeling bad about yourself, ask yourself why. Have you been making poor choices that don’t reflect your desires or morals? When you act in a way that goes against your core values, you will always feel uncomfortable until you get back on the right path.

Make changes

People who say they can’t or won’t change make me very sad. In my opinion, they either think that they are perfect and could use no improvement or they think that negative traits are set in stone and it’s a waste of time to make changes.

You are on this earth for any number of years. You are not the same person in grade school that you are in college. You do not have to ‘lock in’ to any one persona or belief system, especially if it no longer works for you. If you want to change, you can. It doesn’t matter what you did or how old you are, change is possible if you want it.

Mantras and affirmations

Two more tools to fight self-limiting beliefs are mantras and affirmations. Mantras and affirmations are things that you repeat out-loud or to yourself throughout the day. These positive phrases work to “record over” the tape of negative thoughts in your mind. For example, if you’re struggling with feeling like you can’t find quality clients, you could tell yourself a few times per day, “I deserve quality clients and I will find them.”

These phrases can work for a number of self-esteem issues. Some therapists suggest looking into a mirror while you say your phrases. This may help you form a deeper connection to the message.

When I remember to, I try to recite a few mantras and affirmations throughout the day. If I’m feeling anxious about a project or meeting, I will repeat something like “I will do my best. Things will work out.”

Mantras and affirmations are easy to add to your daily routine and can make a big difference in how you feel about yourself.

Talk to a therapist

If your self-limiting beliefs are very strong and you believe they have their roots in your childhood, you may want to see a therapist. I did a very helpful stint of therapy in my mid-20s to deal with issues surrounding my dysfunctional upbringing. The therapy helped immensely. Sometimes people are able to get over things from their past on their own, but other times people need help to work through their experiences and feelings. Therapy is great if you want help sorting out your thoughts.

Everyone struggles with self-limiting beliefs and negative emotions at different times in their lives. Self-limiting beliefs can become self-fulfilling prophecies, but it’s not hopeless. At some point, a person will become so uncomfortable doing what they’ve always done, that they will crave a change. When this happens, progress can be made. Doing the hard work on yourself can make a world of difference in all areas of your life.

**This post includes affiliate links

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2017 Goals

Every year, I set professional and personal goals for myself. These goals give me something to strive for throughout the year. I check my progress each month to determine whether I want to revise or remove goals. Setting goals and regularly reviewing them keeps me on track and motivated.

I believe that sharing your goals keeps you accountable. In that vein, here are my goals for 2017.

Professional goals

1) Increase my income by $10,000

The extra income would allow us to continue paying down our large student loans and the mortgage on our rental property. It would also allow us to invest more. In order to achieve this goal, I need to find around $835 of additional work each month. Part of that total will come from raising my rates. I have increased rates for new clients, but not bumped up the clients I currently have. I believe this goal is absolutely achievable by the end of the year.

2) Get another local client

Ideally, I’d like to have a few local clients. I currently have one. I’d like to bump it up to 3 or 4 in 2017. I’m interested in working with organizations that are making Rockford a better place. I need to continue reaching out via referrals or cold emails to local organizations. I plan to have at least one new local client by the end of June.

3) Launch The Sturm Agency website

My professional website has been www.erinsturm.com for several years now. However, I registered The Sturm Agency as a corporation in June 2015. I’d like to have The Sturm Agency’s website live by the end of March.

4) Launch my freelancer idea

I came up with a business idea for freelancers earlier this year. I registered the domain, but haven’t gotten a website up or started promoting it. I plan on launching the beta site before the end of June.

5) Sponsor something in the community

I’d love to sponsor something in the community, whether it’s a local baseball team or a donation to our local fair. I will look into my options and plan on making a move by September.

Personal goals

1) Lose 35-40 pounds

I’m still carrying around the 35 pounds I gained when pregnant with Norah. I’d like to get back to my pre-baby weight so I can fit back into 75% of my clothing. I need to clean up my diet. I’m a sugar addict and have way too many treats throughout the week. I need to eat healthier foods and see what effects it has on my body and mind. I hope to reach my goal, or be in a better position that I currently am, by the end of the year.

2) Focus on self-care

I’d like to spend 1-2 hours each week doing something that is just for me. I’m thinking some kind of class, seminar, etc. I want to get out of the house to do it. I tried to do this last year with a knitting class, but my husband’s travel schedule kept falling on the day of the class. I need to find something more flexible or find a regular babysittter. I plan to do this in the second half of the year.

3) Spend more time with friends

I’d like to go out every 2-3 weeks with a friend. I’ve made a few new friends in the past year and I want to make sure that I’m giving those friendships a chance to grow. I’m an introvert so it’s hard for me to convince myself to go do something. I’m good at taking my daughter to kid’s activities a few times per week, but I don’t always talk to other mothers while I’m there. I know it’s good to have a social circle and I could use more friends.

4) Learn hand-lettering

I’m really interested in teaching myself how to hand-letter. Not only does it look relaxing and fun, but it could also be a side business, assuming I’m any good at it. My husband gave me a book, some fancy paper and Tombow pens for Christmas so I just need to get started.

In addition to these goals, my husband and I have some family goals in place. They include things like organizing our kitchen/main floor, creating a chore schedule, getting Norah into preschool and other summer activities, and doing an online money course together.

Goals give me a sense of purpose for my year. I know that when I channel my focus, I achieve amazing things. If you need help setting goals, read my post on SMART goals.
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