At age thirty-odd I am probably the last of the woman amongst my friendship group to settle down and enter into a relationship. I didn’t go to university; in fact I didn’t even finish college, and although I have worked in the corporate world as a recruitment manager I jumped off that treadmill in 2016. I no longer wanted to be defined and labelled by my job.

I’m not out on a limb away from my friends though. We are still close, they are still all in my life, which just goes to show that even though you might take a different path in your twenties you can all still end up in the same place. In our mid-thirties now, there isn’t any one of us who you would consider further forward in their careers/lives than anyone else in our group.

What I learn from this is that we do not have to be afraid to be different. Just because our friends and peers are doing one thing doesn’t mean we all have to do the same. It doesn’t mean that one thing is right for us, or right at all.

So we don’t all have to jump off the same cliff into grown-up life. We don’t automatically have to sit on the conveyor belt of further education, career, marriage, mortgage and kids. This is especially true – and especially tricky – for women I think. We have to contend with a lot of expectations about what would make a good life for us, and it’s usually at the expense of our own dreams and goals.

I have to admit to being the kind of person who will always choose the road less travelled. It drives Mum mad, but I guess I am my father’s daughter. If there’s an easy way of doing something or a more adventurous way of doing it I will generally choose the latter. As a cyclist I would choose the 193 mile route over the 100 mile route any day. I’d rather get back to my digs feeling knackered and elated than sit having a beer and wondering what might have been.

It’s better to regret something you have done than something you haven’t.

In a financial context, I have been a lemming in the past. I’ve had a mortgage, and the more money I earned the bigger the mortgage got. But I’ve always felt suffocated, and limited by the disposable income left over at the end of each month. Now I am free to live the life I want and have the income that is equal to it.

I get the attraction of being a lemming. At least if you’re all jumping over the cliff together there are other bodies to cushion your fall. Going it alone can be lonely. You’ve got to have clear vision of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it and keep hold of that. My vision is to be able to do on a daily basis what I want to do, including spending time with people I like and love, doing things that I enjoy, not being labelled, and living as stress-free a life as I can with no apologies!

The important thing to remember is that you can do things differently and you don’t always have to accept what society is giving to you as your lot in life.

With regard to finance you can learn a different way – and just because it’s not the way that everyone is doing it doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

To tread a different financial path by taking control of your financial future call Aston Leigh on 01793 858211 or email info@astonleigh.com.