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The 12 Most Important Lessons to Learn Before Your 30s

The 12 Most Important Lessons to Learn Before Your 30s

I look back at my life and I certainly wouldn’t want to go back to my teenage years – too much awkwardness. My 20’s sure were a lot of fun and then, as I approached 30, I got nervous. I wondered what I was doing with my life and what I’d actually accomplished during college, other than being a three-year running beer pong champion. But now that I’m in my 30s, I have to say this is great. I’m loving it!

Rather than focusing on what hasn’t happened focus on what has! These are lessons that everyone should learn before entering their 30s. By learning these lessons you’ll set yourself up for some fabulous years in your 30’s.

1. Know Your Way Around the Kitchen

Ramen and takeout were fine for your college days, but you don’t want to be doing this every night anymore. If you aren’t sure where to start, ask a friend who has mastered the art of creating delicious eats in the kitchen to give you a few tips. Or you can get a few of your best pals together and take a cooking class. If you’d rather learn right from your own kitchen, or if there aren’t any classes available in your area, consider taking an online cooking class instead.

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2. Have a Better Understanding About Permanence

It seems like the number of people with tattoos nowadays is far surpassing those without ink. If you are considering getting a tattoo, be sure it’s something you are prepared to live with forever. If you decide it’s what you want, make sure you give thought to the placement of your new ink. Getting one that isn’t easily covered by business attire may hinder future job opportunities.

3. Be Knowledgeable About Insurance Coverage

Nothing sounds more adult than insurance, right? You don’t have to be an expert on the subject, but it’s important for you to familiarize yourself with what kinds of insurance you might need throughout your life. If you’re renting, you’ll need renters insurance and then it will change to home insurance when you take that step. Other types of insurance that are important are health, life, and possibly auto, if you have a car. It may be overwhelming at first, but there are insurance experts who can help you compare and learn about the different policies.

4. Know How to Speak Your Mind

It may not have been easy to speak up when you were in a lecture hall in college, but you’re past that now. Before reaching the third decade in your life, you should be able to speak up in meetings. Sure, it may be scary and people may disagree with what you have to say, but it’s important to develop your own voice and believe in what you have to say.

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5. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Quit comparing yourself to those around you. It means nothing if you aren’t in the same place professionally or personally as someone the same age – or younger – than you. We are all walking individual paths, and our journeys cannot possibly look the same. Be confident in the path your life is taking and, if you want to change something, take action to do so.

6. Learn to Love Yourself

I know this is easier said than done. I remember wondering if I’d ever learn to love my thighs and, to be honest, I’m still working on that. But I certainly am learning how to embrace my quirks and flaws and I hope you can do the same. Once you do, you’ll see how those things make you who you are who you are is pretty great. It’s the uniqueness that makes people interesting and, as cheesy as it may sound, there’s no one else out there like you. Enjoy that individuality in yourself and be proud of it. That positive energy will certainly radiate from you and make people have that same love and admiration for you.

7. When it Comes to Alcohol, Everything in Moderation

In your 20’s, this rule certainly doesn’t seem to apply, but now you’ve wised up a bit and know it should. Alcohol is like salt – it adds to a good meal, but it’s not wise (or good for your body) to add it to everything. Your ability to party all night and still arrive at work the next morning is less impressive than it was at 22.

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8. Have a Handle on Your Finances

Don’t panic. I’m not saying you should have an abundance of money, but you should know how to create and stick to a budget. I also hope you know how to balance your checkbook and, hopefully, pay off your credit card on time so you aren’t spending your hard earned money on late fees and interest. There are lots of apps you can use to help you manage your finances straight from your smartphone. Download a few and get started, if you haven’t already.

9. Know How to Do Things For Yourself

You don’t always need to call the repairman. There are many small household tasks you can accomplish yourself for a fraction of the cost. Thanks to YouTube, you can find how-to videos to guide you through most home repairs. Many home improvement stores hold free seminars on how to do simple repair tasks as well. Not only will you save yourself some cash, you’ll gain the satisfaction of having accomplished something you didn’t think you could do.

10. Start to Eat Healthy

This one goes back to our first point. If you’re cooking at home more, you’re more likely to eat healthier. Having a healthy and well-balanced diet will pay off for you in the long run. But we certainly don’t mean you can’t indulge in a cupcake now and then. In fact, we encourage it, because hey – you’ve got to live life, too.

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11. Speak Another Language

So, if you’re almost 30 and haven’t done this one, don’t panic. Just know that now’s the time to start. You can expand your vocabulary at a local community college or by using one of the many online language tools. Not only will this give you a good reason to travel to a new place to put your new skill to use, but it will make you more marketable in the workplace.

12. Take Risks with Your Heart

It may get broken, but you may also find worlds of wonder that you never imagined possible. Putting yourself out there in love can bring you the one you spend your life with or it can bring you great stories to tell down the road. Either way, the risk is worth it. In the end, success is rarely counted by the money we have in the bank but by the riches of our hearts.

If you’re approaching your 30th birthday, I wish you happy birthday and welcome you to this great time in our lives. And, if you’re in your 30’s, what other life lesson advice do you have to add to my list?

Featured photo credit: Birthday Party via istockphoto.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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