Remember when you thought you’d have life all figured out by the age of 30?
But now here you are, officially a 30-something and yet your life is far from sorted. Well, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
For most of us, our 30s are a time of change and uncertainty. Perhaps things haven’t worked out quite how you would have liked so far. But the good news is, there’s still plenty time to shape the life you want and you’re sure to learn a lot along the way.
I turned 40 last month which means somehow I made it through my 30s in one piece. Now, I’m still no life expert but as I reflect on the last ten years, I’m amazed at how much I’ve learnt.
Here are some of the lessons you’ll learn during your 30s.
1. You’ll learn friendships change
Your friendships will change a lot during your 30s. As people pair up, have kids, move house or change jobs, your friendships inevitably alter.
You may discover friends you have known for years don’t make the effort to keep in touch anymore. Or perhaps you no longer have anything in common with friends you’ve had since childhood.
It’s difficult to accept but there may be people who simply aren’t meant to be in your friendship circle anymore. But new friendships will take their place and the good news is, the friends you have at the end of your 30s will probably be friends for life.
2. You’ll learn to make big decisions
When you enter your 30s, you realize those big decisions you’ve been putting off can’t wait forever.
During my 30s I moved house twice, set up a business and had a baby. All demanded huge decisions that I’d been able to avoid during my 20s.
Decisions about your career, family, finances and relationships – you’ll face them all during your 30s. And no matter how old you get, making decisions is tough but with every big decision, your life changes; usually for the better.
3. You’ll learn about heartache
Divorce, fertility issues, bereavement, these are all things many people in their 30s have to face, often for the first time. The thing is, the journey through life isn’t meant to be straightforward and you can only really appreciate the highs, when you’ve also experienced the lows.
As Winston Churchill said: “If you’re going through hell, keep going”.
4. You’ll learn what’s really important
As you get older, your priorities change. The things that were important to you in your 20s such as making money or owning the latest gadgets will now seem less important.
Your 30s is a time to redefine your priorities; whether that’s traveling more, achieving a better work/life balance, or starting a family.
5. You’ll learn about compromise
Life is full of compromises and during your 30s you may find you have to compromise on big things such as taking a pay cut to get the job you really want, or moving city to be with the person you love.
Of course, it’s equally important to know when not to compromise. If you want kids but your partner doesn’t, it’s probably impossible to find a compromise. Instead, you may have to make the difficult decision to walk away from the relationship to get the life you really want.
6. You’ll learn to look after your body
Alcohol, sugar, late nights; they all take their toll. In your 20s you can enjoy your vices without inflicting too much long-term damage. But in your 30s, all those bad choices suddenly have a huge impact.
When you look in the mirror and see wrinkles, grey hairs and saggy skin for the first time, it’s a shock. And while you can’t reverse the ageing process (at least not without lots of cash and a great cosmetic surgeon), you can slow down the effects of ageing by making smart choices.
Now is the time to nurture your body to keep you healthy throughout your 30s and beyond.
7. You’ll learn to invest in the future
“Live for today” is the mantra of most 20-somethings. And this is perfect when you’ve got plenty time ahead to iron out your mistakes. But as you enter your 30s, you’ll realize although enjoying the moment is still important, you also need to plan for the future.
By investing in your finances, your health and your relationships you’ll form good habits that will make your future healthier and happier.
8. You’ll learn life is short
In your 20s you had the luxury of knowing that your whole life was still ahead of you. Meanwhile in your 30s, the sensation that time is hurtling along just keeps getting stronger.
You’ll treasure every second more and only go for things you really like or really needed.
9. You’ll learn about regret
Did you want to be a millionaire by the time you were 30? Travel the world? Win an Oscar? Goals you had in your 20s may no longer seem achievable and although it’s hard to let go of your dreams, with the wisdom you’ve gained, you can create new ones.
10. You’ll learn about children
Whether you already have kids, want kids, or definitely don’t want kids; there’s no escaping the fact that during your 30s everyone seems to be talking about children.
When you have absolutely no interest in kids, all the conversations about diapers and nurseries can become tiresome. But seeing your friends settle down and have kids can clarify how you feel about starting your own family.
You may find your thoughts about children change when you hit your 30s. Plenty of people (including me) change from thinking “definitely not”, to “definitely maybe” as they realize it’s a decision that can’t be put off forever.
11. You’ll learn to develop your own style
Knowing how to dress in your 30s isn’t easy. You’re too mature to wear teenage fashions but not ready to dress like your parents. Take the opportunity to develop your own style. It’s refreshing not to have to be a slave to fashion anymore.
12. You’ll learn to socialize differently
If your 20s were all about all-night parties and being seen in the hippest clubs; you may learn your tastes change in your 30s. Personally, I’d rather go for coffee than cocktails and much prefer watching a film with friends to hitting the town.
Being in your 30s gives you the freedom to do the things you really want to do, not what you think you should be doing.
13. You’ll learn not to sweat the small stuff
Remember when you were worried about everything? What to wear, how to cut your hair, whether your colleagues thought you were a dork for staying in on Saturday night? Well, great news; in your 30s you’ll learn not to care about the little things.
It’s painful to realize how much time you wasted overthinking things but the worries that caused you sleepless nights in your 20s simply won’t matter anymore. And when you learn not to sweat the small stuff, you’ll have more energy to focus on more important things.
14. You’ll learn to manage your money
If you haven’t already got your finances in check, you’ll learn to during your 30s. No doubt you’ll make some mistakes along the way but you’ll quickly become an expert.
Whether you’re investing in business, property or parenthood; now is the time to focus on money matters and financial planning.
15. You’ll learn to value your family
During our late teens and 20s many people grow apart from their parents and siblings as they fly the nest and embrace freedom. But during our 30s, many rediscover the importance of family.
Having kids of your own can bring you closer to your parents. And as your friendships change, it’s comforting to have the stability of family relationships.
16. You’ll learn to stand up for yourself
Whether it’s asking for a pay rise, or standing up to bullies at work, once you’re in your 30s, you’ll learn how to be assertive when it counts. Confidence comes with age so don’t be afraid to ask for what you want; you just might get it.
17. You’ll learn to love yourself
Your 20s can be a difficult time when you’re constantly comparing yourself to others and worrying “am I good enough?”. Well, the good news is your insecurities lessen during your 30s.
You might not have life completely figured out yet but you’ll definitely care less about what others think and learn to love yourself a whole lot more.