Full disclosure: I'm 37 years old and it's only been in the past year that I've been in a job that doesn't feel like work: one that I'm passionate about. I also have the ability to do something else I've wanted to do for a long time: write!
I've had the opportunity to chat with a lot of 20 somethings about what they hoped their life would be like and how they hope to get to a place of career and personal satisfaction. It isn't always easy.
This didn't come to me as quickly as I always wanted.
My career is the product of 22 years of education (yup--12 years of school like everyone else, but then 4 years to earn my BS, 3 years to earn my MA while I was teaching HS full time, and then 3 years in a PhD program, while I was also working and adopting my daughter!) I've also worked in other positions that weren't necessarily my dream job, but that gave me the vital experience I needed to be where I am today.
I've Been Realistic
I've spent most of my career in education. I know that "world" works and that you have to get certain credentials and degrees. I've also always wanted to write for various publications--again, you have to pay your dues, get experience writing, etc. A lot of people in my life have been a little "too" encouraging and maybe weren't always realistic, so it was important that I was!
I Didn't Give Up On My Dreams (And I'm not "waiting to retire" to do things!)
I have never given up on my dreams and goals. Ever. I just understood I had to do certain things to make my way to where I am today and I've always been writing on the side to build up my portfolio of published articles. It wasn't easy and going to graduate school while working wasn't easy either--but it's what got me to where I am. In talking to a 25 year old recently, she said she wanted to do other things too like travel, but her parents encouraged her that those were things she should wait to do until retirement. I don't prescribe to that notion. I am of the "work hard play hard" thought. I want to do things now, so I plan dream trips regularly with my family--time isn't promised to us and depending on your career path, retirement may not come when you expect it to.
Everyone reaches their goals at different times--you can't base your life off of someone else's, but you also shouldn't be discouraged if you're not where you thought you'd be..you'll get there!