No matter how wise you think you are when approaching your 30s, you are bound to emerge from the decade even more enlightened. Just as your 20s bring unexpected twists and turns, your 30s most definitely come with surprising discoveries. Whether you want a jump on these lessons, or just want to feel you’re not alone, these are the top 20 things people learn from the big mistakes they made in their 30s.
Waiting too long to start saving
It doesn’t take a six figure income or three degrees on your resume to have a secure retirement. The most sure fire way to save for your future is slowly over the years. Even if you feel like you’ll never be old in your 20s, the day will come when you wish you had started saving a little earlier.
Rushing into marriage
Another one of the biggest mistake from your 30s is to commit to marriage before you know everything about yourself. Too often we jump head first into decisions because society encourages them, only to find out a decade later that we’re painfully unhappy. There’s nothing wrong with taking your time while deciding who to settle down with, or if settling down is for you.
Holding on to the wrong partner
Similarly, once you realize you’re not happy in a relationship, a big mistake is to force yourself to stay. Regardless of your reasons, staying in an unhealthy relationship will eventually take a serious toll. Knowing when to let go, even if you’ve invested years, is a critical skill–one that sometimes only comes after some wrong turns in your 30s.
Committing to the wrong career
Much in the same way, forcing yourself to stay in a career that’s wrong for you will eventually be more than just a bore. By your 30s, several years of performing unengaging daily tasks will start to weigh you down, until you yearn for a new start. Just like with an unhealthy relationship, cutting your losses at the wrong career can actually help you move forward into a job that resonates with you.
While many people in their 40s and 50s wish they made more time for travel in their youth, many people also regret paying no attention to their finances. Even if you don’t value a retirement, a small savings cushion can make all the difference when life grows unpredictable.
Only focusing on work
Another common regret for those leaving their 30s is disproportionately focusing on work. All too often our desire for financial stability eclipses our personal relationships, but in your 30s, you become aware of the damage this can do. Since many people also expressed regret over ignoring finances, a healthy balance between work and relationships is clearly essential in achieving a content existence for the rest of your life.
Ignoring your health
By the time you’re 30, you likely have some energetic, carefree times behind you. While your need to party will start to naturally subside as you age, try to work in ways to boost your health too. Most people coming out of their 30s regret not getting active earlier, as natural aches and pains come soon after this decade.
Not traveling enough
A common regret from your 30s is not traveling enough. While a balanced approach to finances is best, you will never have less responsibilities. Traveling while you can, but within a balanced budget, can help you feel like you truly made the most of this decade.
Rushing into home ownership
Much like sticking with the wrong partner or career, roping yourself into home ownership before you’re ready can be a big mistake. Remember, not only will you need to pay off this home, you will need to stay in the same city until that happens.
Partying too much
Leaving your direction in life up to the future can also be a mistake. Your 30s should be about discovery, but too much carelessness is a recipe for an unstable, chaotic future. Many people leaving their 30s regret getting stuck in jobs below their potential, simply because they spent too much time partying in their 20s to find something they enjoy.
Using a cheap accountant
Another critical lesson from your biggest mistakes in your 30s is to find an honest, hardworking accountant with your best interest in mind. You likely won’t be a financial wizard by the time you leave your 30s, so you’ll want to have one on your side.
Much like never planning for the future, failing to grow up where needed can cause some major mistakes when you get older. Learning how to remain youthful, while still being able to deal with reality, is valuable to your future.
Putting off spontaneity
Another big mistake people in their 30s make is neglecting to seize the moment. By the time you’re in your 40s, it becomes clear that time really is short, and it’s better to act today than never at all.
Many people in their 30s also make the mistake of investing their money recklessly. Even though you’re still considerably short of middle age, it doesn’t mean you haven’t earned your money. Avoid losing your earnings by familiarizing yourself with any program you invest in. Generally speaking, if the returns sound to good to be true, you’re better off keeping your money in the bank.
Neglecting your relationships
Much like growing hyper-focused on work, ignoring the best people in our lives can be another big mistake in your 30s. As cliche as it sounds, as we age, relationships really are the most valuable asset. Making time for those closest to you during your 30s is essential for a full life.
Valuing things too much
Another big mistake in our 30s is to value things more than experiences. It may seem like physical investments bring the most pleasure, but as your possessions grow out of style and break, you will wish you had valued experiences more than things.
Rushing into other commitments
With pressures to have life figured out by your 30s, many 30-somethings feel they rushed into responsibility. Housing and marriage aside, it’s easy to rush into living arrangements, schooling or family commitments you’re just not ready for. There’s nothing wrong with taking a few extra years to work out whether you’re a family person, if you like the single life, or whether or not you’re happy pursuing your career.
Being too inflexible
Another common mistake from your 30s is failing to be flexible. You might think you are pursuing the lifestyle you want, but sometimes the reality of a job or career is different than you expect. If you find yourself unhappy in your 30s, remember that you are free to switch careers, partners or locations. If you find that you’re unhappy with your life, there’s no need to keep pursuing it.
Another big mistake in your 30s is to fail to learn from your mistakes. If you can’t learn from your mistakes the first few times you make them, you are doomed to have a turbulent, frustrating transition to your 40s.
Squandering your youth
Similarly, forgetting to value your youth is another big mistake in your 30’s. It’s easy to think painless joints and boundless energy will stick with you throughout life, but the opposite is true. Go after the things you really want while you have the health and energy to pursue them.
Featured photo credit: smile/Dima Viunnyk via flickr.com