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13 Life Lessons to Excel In Your 30s

13 Life Lessons to Excel In Your 30s

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).

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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.

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Take risks.

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.

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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.

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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

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Scott Christ

Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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