With those fun, carefree days of your 20’s behind you, your 30’s can often feel like the real start of adulthood. That’s the case for me, at least, at the ripe age of 33: I’m five years into marriage and expecting my first kid. Regardless of what life stage you’re at, if you’re in your 30’s there are several life lessons I’ve learned that I think most of you can benefit from. Here are 13 of the most important.
Start saving for retirement now.
I know you’ve heard this one before but the earlier you start saving the more money you’ll have down the road. Compound interest is a beautiful thing. Don’t wait until your 40’s to start saving. Do it now.
Start taking better care of your health.
Your 30’s are a busy time. But life doesn’t slow down. The time to start caring about your health is now. Here’s the good news: eating well isn’t that difficult. Just eat real foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats like olive oil and nuts, and lean meats and dairy (unless you’re a vegetarian, of course).
Don’t spend time with people who bring you down.
We all deal with a lot of crappy people in our teens and twenties. Now’s the time to get rid of people who bring nothing but baggage. You don’t need them anymore. Start phasing out those folks and you’ll be better off for it.
Spend time with the people you care about.
On that note, here’s who you should be spending time with in your 30’s: people you care deeply about. Whether it’s your friends, your family, or your co-workers, spend time with people who make you laugh, smile, and enjoy life.
Focus on doing a few things really well.
You can’t be everything to everybody. It took me a long time to realize this. Especially when it comes to work, pick one or two skills you enjoy doing and master them. You’ll be able to build a very successful career out of this.
While your 30’s may have a reputation for a time to “settle down,” don’t listen to this advice. Keep taking risks. Put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to fail. If you do that, you will be rewarded in time.
Grow and learn every day.
Don’t be content with mediocrity either. Read as many books as possible. Watch TED talks. Go online and read articles on Lifehack. The happiest, most successful 30-somethings I know are the ones who constantly seek out knowledge.
Invest in your family.
We talked about investing your money into a retirement account but here’s the other way to invest your money: on your family. Whether you have a spouse, children, siblings, or parents who are still around, spend your money doing nice things for others you love and care about. It feels so much better than spending it on yourself.
Stop sweating the little stuff.
Little, trivial things that seem to be a matter of life and death in your 20’s aren’t so important in your 30’s anymore. And guess what? The same will be the case in your 40’s. So stop focusing your mental energy on crap that doesn’t matter. You are what you think.
Spend money on experiences, not things.
We’ve talked about spending your money on savings and on your family. The third big thing to spend your money on is experiences. “Things” are never as fulfilling as we expect them to be. Experiences are though. So take that trip you’ve been putting off for a while. Do something spontaneous with someone you love this weekend. Go somewhere you’ve never been with friends and/or family.
Listen to your intuition.
The older we get, the more we refine our inner voice. Listen carefully. I tend to overanalyze and try to find the reason and logic in things. But more often than not our intuition guides us to the right place if we don’t overthink it.
Keep a daily planner.
I know this may not sound like much, but the single biggest reason I’ve substantially increased my productivity in my 30’s is because of my daily planner. I use a cheap, paper-based planner and list out the things I want to accomplish each day to get me closer to my goals (e.g., exercise for 60 minutes, cook healthy dinner, work on business plan, write, etc.). Whether you use an app like Evernote or a piece of paper, checking things off your list every day is one of the best ways to create healthy habits, get more done and feel good about yourself in the process.
Go with the flow.
In your 30’s, bad stuff will happen to you. You may lose your job. Or people you love will die. Or you’ll get an unexpected bill that costs you thousands of dollars you don’t have. I’ve suffered through all of these. And you know what? I’m still here. So are you. Take some time every day to reflect on that and be thankful. And then live each day in the moment, laughing and smiling as much as possible. If you do this, it’ll be the best decade of your life.
Featured photo credit: Millzero Photography via flickr.com