Not everybody leads the same life, it’s true. However, in modern Australian society there are often a few points we have in common when it comes to major life events. These five big “touchstone moments” can feel like a weight on your shoulders, both emotionally and financially. Perhaps there’s a way to make these mountains appear a little more like mole hills?
Your first job
Starting that first job in your chosen industry is a major step in life, or at least it feels like it at the time. After making it through the application and interview process, you now have to jump through more hoops, fitting in workplace culture. However, there are ways to make fitting in a little bit easier.
- Be punctual: Try to always be on time, with tasks, and with showing up. If you promise something by a certain time, try to deliver. If asked to complete something in less time than it needs, tell them up front. Rushed work is often low quality, and it will reflect on you. Being prepared to push back when you need to often gains you more respect than always agreeing with everyone.
- Be yourself: Try to relax into your new job and just be yourself. It’s often not a good idea to put on a false persona just to make friends, it could backfire later on.
Finding your better half
Marriage may not be for everyone these days, but moving in with a significant other is still a step most people take. It can be a shock to the system to be suddenly exposed to the realities of coupledom, from organising household responsibilities to braving the weekend crowds at Ikea. Here are a couple of tips to make sure the little stuff doesn’t get in the way of happiness.
- Figure out the details: Whether you are actually married or not, figuring out how the chores get done is no different than living in a student share-house. Agreed responsibilities can avoid resentment by letting things “work themselves out” – because they often don’t.
- Make time for each other: married or not, couples living together often thrive if they are able to put aside for each other. Trying to continue this throughout the relationship is often a primary reason for success.
Buying a house
Nothing says “grown up” like buying a house. Whether it’s a tiny inner city flat, or a four bedroom suburban dream on a quarter acre block in the suburbs, it’s a big step for anyone.
- Make a budget and try to stick to it! You may have heard it before, but its sound advice for property first timers. Try to agree a budget before even securing a loan to buy anything, and try not to be lured into spending more.
- Check everything out carefully: if there’s a building inspection, ask for a copy. It’s also a good idea to take it to every open house and check everything off. If you don’t keep track of what you really want, you can end up making an emotional choice rather than a logical one.
Again not everyone will choose to have kids, but it’s certainly a common pressure point in life that many recognise.
- Try to be okay with expecting the unexpected: For a bit of fun make a list of expectations, then throw it away. If anything it will help you to realise that every family is different, making it easier not to feel pressure from others around you.
- Do your best to make time for your family every day, especially when kids are young. Whether it’s reading them a story or having a chat over breakfast, always try and make some time. This will likely keep home life ticking along a little smoother, and bind everyone that little bit closer.
Increasingly retirement is a time for finishing all those unfinished projects and travelling to all those places you never quite got to. Can it be stressful? Of course! but there are ways to make it less so.
- Use it or lose it. This applies to both physical and mental activity; if you don’t stay busy you may start to lose your vigour, which can be frustrating and stressful. Perhaps take up a new hobby, or get back into an old one. Walking, cycling, or joining a club are great ways to stay active.
- Keep working. While being forced to work past a comfortable retirement age can cause a huge amount of stress, many retirees are happier with some part time work, whether this be volunteer or paid.
The final word…
Whether you go through these big steps in full, or only choose a couple of them, there are ways these high pressure milestones can be eased off and remembered only as happy memories. Whatever life stage you are at, having an appropriate level of life insurance secures your future financially and often reduces stress.