Around age 30 is typically when we abandon what we refer to in life coaching as “novice adulthood.” Yet it is still young enough to be experiencing life lessons for the first time. Some days I feel young enough to be a little foolish now and then and at other times, I think I am old enough to know better.
Here are 30 important things I learned by the time I turned 30 this year:
1. It’s never about where you start. I come from a small town, a chaotic, broken home and very little money. If you started somewhere similar, focus on the future. Visualize what you want and what you can do in the present moment to take a small step towards it. Each small step adds up to a life.
2. Take your dreams seriously. And give yourself permission to dream big.
3. The best money you can spend is on travel experiences and time with family and friends. After I recently saved some money it was such a pleasure for me to buy my sister (in the UK) a ticket to New York City to visit me. Nothing material could have made me nearly as happy!
4. Live in the moment. This takes some practice, but the current moment is all there really is. What goes hand in hand with this is not wasting a single second on guilt (living in the past) or worry (living in the future). I adore the Yiddish proverb, “we make plans and the Gods laugh.”
5. Kindness counts above all else. It does not matter how good looking, educated, passionate or interesting someone is. It all means nothing without kindness.
6. Don’t let not doing something perfectly stop you from doing anything at all. It is so easy to over think stuff and allow perfect to be the enemy of good. Just do it!
7. We are highly adaptable beings. The human condition is flexible, resilient and much stronger than we imagine.
8. Always be de-cluttering! Closets, paperwork, friends, apps, inboxes. Your time, bandwidth and sense of simplicity in your life matter.
9. It’s OK to lose some friends along the way. I have disconnected (with love) with girlfriends in my life over the years. If you are happier without them, it was the right choice. Don’t waste your energy in relationships that don’t serve you.
10. Date with intention. Thirty arrives quicker than your rent statement every month. Choose a supportive partner of good character and don’t write relationships off for superficial reasons. I know many 30-something women who say, “I was so quick to turn men down for silly reasons. The men I rejected are now married to really lovely women.”
11. Don’t listen too much to others when it comes to making decisions — including the opinion of your parents. Your inner voice, when you truly allow it to surface, is the wisest of all. It has all the answers you need. In matters like marriage, migration and career choices, I am so happy I trusted myself and did not let fearful opinions and thoughts rule (including my own).
12. Have confidence in your talents. Other people will then too. Confidence, not talent, education or even connections is the most important quality in succeeding.
13. Stop thinking happiness is anything but an external condition. It’s not. Everything — contentment, peace, joy — comes from within.
14. Saving your money is essential! And invest in property if you can. Credit card debt in New York is astonishing. Invest in quality accessories, not expensive clothes. You can splurge a little on things you will use for years — purse, watch, winter boots. No you do not need a $220 blouse. Go to H&M.
15. How you speak about others is how you feel about yourself. In fact, your perception of the entire world echoes how you feel about your own life.
16. Read like a maniac — biographies especially. There is an old saying that “there’s nothing new under the sun.” All mistakes that can be made have been by someone else. Learn from others.
17. Generosity matters. Giving is one of the greatest things we can do for others and for ourselves.
18. Live where you want to live. I have lived in the U.K., Canada, France, Australia and now the U.S. I am a much wiser, more understanding and interesting person because of it. The younger you are, the easier it is to be flexible. If your dream is to live in London, Paris, San Francisco — go!
19. Forgive others no matter what they did to you. This one is harder than the rest but the result is a calm, free, Zen you.
20. Nurture your closest friendships. A lifelong, good friend is the ultimate luxury you give to yourself. Choose friends who pursue their own dreams and who believe in yours.
21. Take care of your body. And speak kindly to it. Limit your vices — your 20s are a very habit forming time. Make your habits healthy. I wish I did this more.
22. You don’t have to work for a boss you hate (for long). If you are unhappy put up only until you can find another one.
23. Develop your talents. You want to ski, speak Italian, play guitar? Learn! When I was 18 I lived in the South of France for a summer and worked as an Au Pair. Whenever I vacation in Europe now it is a pleasure and convenience to speak French. I also went skiing for the first time age 27. I am lousy at it, but I enjoy doing something new and it makes my husband happy.
24. Time cures heartbreak. Nothing else. As Regina Brett says, “Give time time.”
25. Be comfortable with yourself! Although I think really does only come with age. Age 30, I do and say what I want much more freely. A person not liking me is OK with me now (and that feeling is pretty awesome).
26. You cannot please everyone, so please yourself. Make your needs a priority. As Martha Becks says, “When it comes to saying yes or no to something or someone, choose the answer that feels like freedom.”
27. Know your strengths. Focus on them. Crafting your strengths will get you much further than improving your weaker areas. Let your strengths shine and don’t apologize for them!
28. Don’t let people intimidate you. People are just people.
29. Failure is not final. I got fired from my first full time job as an administrator. I was terrible at it. Ironically the recruiter who placed me in it acknowledged my talent for sales (the job I was fired from was neglected as I observed and assisted the sales people). She gave me a role as a junior consultant with her firm. This started my decade-long sales career — which I love!
30. It’s OK to not follow a conventional path and to ditch the plan you had in mind. In fact, some of the least traditional decisions we make are the ones that catapult us to new experiences and success beyond our expectations.