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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 February 20, 2019

How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

Possessing effective communication skills is a powerful tool to have. Effective communication skills are essential to success in many aspects and areas of your life. There are a lot of jobs that require you to be a good communicator.

Strong communication skills help you enjoy better relationships with friends and family. Being an effective communicator will give you advantages in more ways than you can imagine.

Conversely, being poor at communicating will negatively impact your life.

Let’s take a look at how to master effective communication skills at work and home.

What is Effective Communication?

Probably a good place to start is to paint a picture of what clear communication is.

Effective communication is defined as verbal speech or other communication methods to get your point across. Sounds pretty simple, right? It does but there’s more to it than that.

It’s really about how all of us interact and communicate in every aspect of our lives. It’s the ability to say something at the right time; to be able to get multiple people on the same page in a group decision. It’s how that one friend of yours who plans most of the activities is able to get everyone to the same place at the same time.

Non-verbal communication is key to being effective as well. It’s the ability to have your body language say the right thing so the person you’re speaking to knows your listening.

Effective communicators don’t react to situations with high emotion. It means not having to say something all the time in every situation. You are even being an effective communicator when you show up to pick your daughter up from the mall when you say you will. You are communicating to her that she can rely on you.

Are You a Poor Communicator?

Before we get too deep into how to be a master communicator, let’s take a look at your communication skills.

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If you find yourself agreeing with a lot of these, you might want to sharpen your communication skills.

  • You’re constantly interrupting – Hey, I know, we all want to be listened to. We all want to get our point across. Most importantly, we want to be understood. If you find yourself interrupting all the time you aren’t listening enough.
  • Doing too much – Many of us are master multi-taskers. It’s not good if you are communicating with someone. When you try to do too much while speaking with someone, you aren’t paying attention to what they are saying. Lack of focus is bad.
  • Rambling – I know of several people I work with who do this constantly. I honestly dread having to speak to them. The worst part is even though a lot of words are coming out of their mouths, they really aren’t saying anything. I’m more confused after they answer my question.
  • Not being direct – Nothing wrong with emails or reports. However, if you can convey the same information quickly and directly to someone, it is much more effective. Why write a 2 paragraph email when you can pick up the phone and say the same information in 2 sentences?
  • Always talking about yourself – Everybody likes to relate things to their own experiences. It draws us together and helps us create a feeling of sharing and community. If you are always coloring someone else’s conversation with a similar situation in your life, people will think you are making everything about you. Don’t be that person!
  • Using a lot of qualifiers – Qualifiers are fine for the most part. When you use them as a crutch most of the time when you speak, it’s not helping your communication. Sometimes, we do this to makes things seem “softer”. Saying things like “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way but…” or “I know what you’re thinking but…” over and over doesn’t help you communicate.
  • Your ears don’t work – If you don’t listen well, you can’t answer someone correctly. In order to be an effective communicator, you have to understand what someone else is saying to you. If you don’t listen with purpose you will only have part of the picture.
  • Bad body language – The importance of body language is well documented. If you don’t look at someone when they are speaking, it appears that you don’t really care what’s being said. This makes people feel like you don’t care what they are saying and it’s not important to you. Other bad body language examples include always crossing your arms and not looking someone in the eyes.

What Effective Communication Can Do For You

Let’s take a look at how being able to effectively communicate can help you at work and in your personal relationships.

Work

  • Better client relationships – You certainly want a great communicator to be handling your client relationships. Strong communicators represent both the client and your company is the best manner.
  • Higher employee engagement – Pretty critical if you are a leader or a manager of people. An engaging and interactive communicator in a leadership position is wonderful for employees.
  • Getting better buy in from others – This is great whether you are a manager or individual contributor. Strong communicators tend to get people moving and working towards a common goal.
  • Helps mitigate conflict – Good communicators are able to help resolve conflicts quicker and easier. This helps smooth things over and keeps projects and initiatives moving forward.
  • Builds trust – You want to be able to trust who you work for and with. Effective communicators are good at establishing and building trust between people and groups.
  • Solves problems – Problems are solved by people with the ability to communicate clearly between groups and people. Those without good communication skills many times add to the confusion of a problem because they are unable to articulate their thoughts and ideas.

Personal relationships

  • Creates closeness – A good communicator is able to help foster a feeling of closeness with his or her partner.
  • Makes conflict okay – It’s actually better to fight with your partner from time to time instead of never fighting. We all have differences of opinion and points of view. When we don’t express these and bury it inside by not communicating, it just comes out later in a more negative form.
  • Provides support – It’s nice to know that someone cares about you and supports you. A strong communicator will ask how you’re doing and be a good sounding board for what you’re going through.
  • Expressing feelings – People who are not effective communicators tend to be not very good at expressing how they feel. This makes it tough to share your feelings with you partner.
  • Get the loving you want – In order to get the physical, mental, and emotional love you want and need, you have to be able to communicate clearly and appropriately with your spouse or partner. This is done through effective communication.
  • Eliminate mistrust, doubt, faithlessness, and insecurities – Many times these seeds are sown due to a lack of communication. If your partner rarely tells you where he or she is going, you will tend to start coming up with your own ideas. Often these aren’t true but how would you know if you aren’t told?

Can You Improve Your Communication Skills?

The short answer is yes, of course you can improve your communication skills.

Improving or changing anything in your life takes some work and effort but it can be done. You have to keep in mind your starting point and your goal.

If you are not a very good communicator now and you want to be able to give a motivating speech to a large graduating class, you’d better get working.

On the other hand, if you get along fairly well in general but want to be able to improve your relationship with your boss or spouse by being able to master effective communication, you may just need some guidance and practice.

Either way, if you want to master effective communication skills at both work and home, it will take a little work and effort. Doing so will benefit you in many ways.

How to Master Effective Communication Skills

In general mastering effective communication skills will help you at both work and home. Let’s look at how to improve verbal, written, and body language communication skills. These will help you create better relationships everywhere you go!

1. Learn how to listen

Speaking is only half of the communication equation. Sharpen your listening skills so you are able to process what the other person is saying. You can then respond it a well-informed manner.

Check out these active listening guidelines to be a better listener.

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2. Make eye contact

Having regular eye contact with someone while you are having a conversation shows you care what they are saying. When you are looking at the floor or out the window it gives the impression that you aren’t paying attention.

Take a look at this advice on how to make engaging eye contact.

3. Ask questions

When you ask someone questions, you are able to clarify what they are saying to ensure you get the whole picture. If you don’t understand it fully, ask questions.

Do you know that it takes some skills to ask questions too? Here’s how to be good at asking questions.

4. Watch body language

Watch both yours and the other persons.

We all know if you have a conversation with your arms crossed the entire time, it gives off a bad vibe. Have open, engaging body language when speaking with someone.

On the flip side, if you see someone’s eyes glazing over while speaking to you, it’s probably a good idea to wrap it up.

Take a look at these top 20 body language indicators to learn more.

5. Speak confidently

Sometimes this is easier said than done. If you communicate in an open, direct, and clear manner, it subtly shows people that you are confident in what you are saying.

It doesn’t mean you always have to be right but delivering your thoughts with confidence helps your case.

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These tips will help you speak more confidently.

6. Keep it simple

You don’t always have to be succinct in your communication. There is a lot of value in being able to tell a great story.

That being said, there are many instances where keeping it simple is very helpful. This is especially true at work in both verbal conversations as well as written like emails.

7. Know your audience

You should have a certain style when communicating with your boss. Another style of communication is better with your spouse and probably others with your kids or friends.

Know your audience to help you communicate the most effectively.

8. Be empathetic and understanding

There is a massive amount of power in being empathetic. And I mean that in a very positive way.

Showing that you are empathetic and understanding to another person goes a long way to creating a great bond with that person. We all want to be understood. It’s that simple.

Think it’s a challenge for you? These 5 tips for empathetic listening will help you.

9. Pause before reacting

There have been a number of times when I’ve read an email that just came in and had an instant reaction to reading it. And I don’t mean a positive reaction. My less effective ways of dealing and communicating has been to send a scathing email back.

When I’ve communicated more appropriately, I’ve waited a while before I responded. This is true in verbal situations as well.

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10. Over communicate

You’d think if you tell someone something that should be the end of it, right? Done deal. Not so fast.

I’m not recommending you tell someone the same thing 10 times in a row. With as many distractions as we all have these days, it’s generally a good idea to follow up on something you’ve communicated a few times if it’s important.

Conclusion

Having effective communication skills at both work and home will help you immensely.

At work, it helps you in your career in many ways.

Communicating well with your boss leads to a solid, symbiotic working relationship. You’re able to clearly articulate what you need to do your job well. You can share your vision and strategy with your boss and others. Good communicators are needed in management roles and leading others. Fostering an environment of effective communication leads to a great work environment.

At home, having effective communication skills will help you achieve the type of relationship you want with your spouse.

You are able to speak freely and openly about your feelings. You can share your wants and needs in a manner that your spouse understands. Your spouse will feel understood and supported by you which is a wonderful feeling to have. And being able to have a disagreement and work through it due to strong communication skills is amazing.

Look at how you can master effective communication skills at work and home to help create more satisfying relationships in all phases of your life.

More Resources About Work Communication

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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