"How can women have it all by the time they are 30?" is the question my 24 year old female friends seem to be asking a lot lately.

Where has this sudden pressure come from, that my friends feel they need to be in the job of their dreams, have found Mr Right, got married and have at least one child at the age of 30? Probably because every birthday after 21 people are telling you "Its time to grow up" and there is a feeling as the years go by, time is running out. Very few of our parents went to College/University and went into employment at 16, many of them marrying and settling down before 25, and so we feel that we have to follow their lead.

The truth is, times have changed. With many people now in education until they are 21, then deciding they want to see and travel the world for a couple of years after that, a lot of people are only entering the world of full time employment, and starting their careers at the age of 23, 24, 25 plus. Ideally we then want to spend a couple of years progressing in our career, taking chances, meeting new people and deciding if you are doing, what you really want to do. Boyfriends may figure in this period, but have we really got the time to make long term commitments?

This lifestyle is not for everyone, and plenty people settle down before 30, but plenty people now settle down after 30, and this is the message I want to give my worrying peers. I myself have even found myself wondering at the grand old age of almost 25 if I in fact need to get my act together and set some sort of life plan as time moves quickly away from us all.

I rationalise the answer is no. Of course I have an idea of what I want in life and where I want to be in 10 years time, but I also like the element of surprise and going with the flow, and do not want to set myself timelines and deadlines to achieve all of this by.

The unexpected and the unplanned is what makes life interesting, and I for one believe your 20s are for living and learning and finding out who you are and what you want. You can afford to mistakes in your 20s, big mistakes and take the lessons learned into your 30's - a decade when most women claim to discover who they really are and find true happiness within themselves.

Depending on circumstances and where you live, many of you may relate to this article, others may laugh and argue that the idea of settling down and being on the property ladder with a child on your hip under 30 is madness. I, along with my friends come from a town where a lot of people do indeed aim to "have it all" before they are 30, but only time will tell if they are still happy and living the same life when they are 40. Will they then be left with regrets, wishing they had enjoyed their youth and done all the things they dreamed of doing, before settling down with a family?
We are fighting against the traditions of the past and the choices of our parents with the new 21st Century society we now live in, torn between following our parent's example and creating a different lifestyle of our own.

Each individual is different, and each of my friends will go on to make their own decisions, but my message to them is, if you want to set timelines maybe aim to have it all by 40, but just aim to be half way there at 30 and enjoy the ride along the way.

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