If you made a point of spending your 20s learning as much as possible, then you'll likely be steeped in all sorts of wisdom by the time your turn 30. Or, at the very least, you'll be well on your way. After a decade of radical changes, and trying new things, your 30th birthday can feel like slightly magical, mystical, and life-changing moment in time.
And, in many ways, it kind of is. "By 30, you are generally out of school, in the workforce, and shifting into a new phase in your life," says relationship therapist Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, founder of the online relationship community, Relationup. "For the most part, you have moved out of the 'carefree years,' and life is starting to become more serious."
Your life is starting to change at 30, but so is your brain — quite literally. "This shift in maturity is not just happening because of sociological situations. It also coincides with the brain maturing and finishing its growth," Milrad says. "By 25 or so, the prefrontal cortex is fully developed and it is this part of the brain that helps inhibit impulses and plans and organizes behavior to reach a goal."
Of course, that's not to say you instantly grow up when the clock strikes midnight, marking your 30th birthday. But you will have spent the past five to ten-ish years morphing into an adult, and picking up some pretty solid life advice along the way. Here, some things you should know and do by 30.
1. It's OK If You Don't "Have It All Together"
No matter what you do, you'll never be perfect. And that's more than OK. "There’s a disparaging myth that circulates every now and then that we women have to have everything together," says licensed psychologist Jisun (Sunny) Fisher, PhD. But that's just not the case, even though you're officially an adult.
2. Try To Embrace What Makes You Unique
While you may have felt awkward in your teens and 20s, your 30s are the perfect time to let all that go and fully appreciate yourself. "Learn and accept what makes you unique and rock it," life coach Leannah Lumauig tells Bustle. "If you've got a goofy laugh, let it rip. If you're insecure about your looks, do what you can to build confidence without losing your essence." Your 30-year-old self will thank you.
3. Find A Healthy Work/Life Balance
By 30, you'll want to be getting better at managing your work/life balance, and staying in touch with the people and things that matter most. As certified professional coach Nicole Karslake says, "Don't get so caught up in climbing the corporate ladder that you forget to call mom."
4. Know That Not Everyone Is Going To Like You
If you're on a mission to win everyone over, give yourself permission to stop. "Once you accept that you can’t hit a home run with everyone, you free yourself from other people’s expectations and can aggressively 'do you,'" Jules Dahbura, CEO and founder of Deco Miami Cosmetics, tells Bustle.
5. Make Money For Your Future Self
As Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, board chair and president of the Charles Schwab Foundation says, you should "start contributing 10 percent of your income to a retirement account. If you’re in your 20s and you put aside at least 10 percent you should have a relatively comfortable retirement by age 65." So if you haven't already, go get on that, OK?
6. Know The Importance Of An Emergency Fund
Whether you're getting fired, or getting out of an unhealthy relationship, it's always smart to have money set aside to see you through. "Be sure to set aside enough cash to cover your essential expenses for three to six months," Schwab-Pomerantz says. That should cover you, until you get back on your feet.
7. Remember, You Are Never Stuck
If you aren't happy with your current situation, whether you're 20, 30, or 60, remember that you're never stuck. "You are not stuck in your relationship, your job, or in your living situation," says Milrad. "You have the ability to make a change (even if it is hard or unpleasant). You just have to be brave enough to break free from situations that you need to change."
8. You Can Get Almost Anything If You Ask
While it may be uncomfortable, all ladies should get used to asking for what they want — whether it's a raise at work, a change in their relationship, etc. "Don’t sit around a wait for the world to drop what you want on your lap," Milrad says. "Take the risk, go out and get it, and be prepared to cope with disappointment. And if it doesn’t work out, then muster up the fortitude to make it happen through different means."
9. Your Friends Are Your Life Line
As you go through career changes and big moves in your 20s, remember how important it is to stay connected with people you care about. "Their support and companionship become essential as life becomes more complicated and you face celebrations and hardships," Milrad says.
10. It's OK To Let Someone Down
You can't be everything to everyone, all the time. So get used to occasionally letting people down. "Sometimes, you have to disappoint people in order to pursue your dreams — your parent(s), your partner, your friends, and even your mentors," Milrad says. "You can stay steady and tolerate their reaction, knowing that in the end, both of you will survive."
11. Know Your Worth In Relationships
As you get older, always keep in mind what a healthy relationship looks like. And never be afraid to leave the ones that aren't what you want. "By staying in an unhealthy relationship you are sending the message that it is OK for you to be treated poorly," says counselor Christine Fuchs, LMHC. "Surround yourself with people who love and support you and know that you deserve to be happy."
12. Keep In Mind: Multi-Tasking Doesn't Work
We all have great intentions when it comes to getting sh*t done. But it's important to remember, as you get further into your career, that nothing good ever came from multi-tasking. As Jess Botte, founder and head coach of JBeWell Fitness Solutions says, "You would be blown away by your productivity if you gave up jumping from task to task and stuck to a list/calendar system for getting things done."
13. Find Your Favorite Way To Stay Healthy
If you have an unhealthy relationship with dieting and/or working out, it's important to reign all that in ASAP. "Consistency is the key to change," says Botte. By finding an exercise routine and nutrition plan that feels right, and then sticking with it, you'll be putting yourself on the right track for life.
14. Remember, "No" Is A Complete Sentence
This one can be tough, especially for younger woman. And yet, there is nothing more powerful than the word no. “My best advice to women under 30 is, 'No is a complete sentence,'" says Susan Wilder, MD, a family physician with LifeScape Premier. "This means pace yourself, breathe, say 'no' without guilt, and practice self-care/self-love/self-respect."
15. There's A Lot To Be Said For Self-Reliance
The handier you can become as you get older, the more self-reliant — and totally badass — you'll be. "A woman should know how to do minor repairs of all kinds; she should have a toolbox with the essentials and know how to use it," says psychic and spiritual counselor, Davida Rappaport. Fixing a leaky sink? Changing your own oil? Check and check.
16. Be An Advocate For Your Health
Do you keep track of all things related to your health? If not, it's more than time to start. "By the time a woman is 30, she should know how her body works and schedule her regular dental and medical exams and make time to get her annual physical exam, including mammograms and pap smears," says Rappaport. "She should also know what type of birth control works for her."
17. Take Responsibility For Yourself
Once you hit 30, do your best to own your life. As business coach April Wier says, "Take full responsibility for your self at this point in your life. Other people may have hurt you and screwed you up, but don't use that as an excuse for not doing all you can now to move yourself forward." While it's difficult — and may sometimes require therapy — it's important to learn how move on.
18. Learn To Let Go Of The Past
"Make peace with your past, especially your mother or father, and do your best to heal from within," says spiritual life coach Angela Lenhardt, in an email to Bustle. This is another way to take responsibility and move on, and a way to stay fully present.
19. Always Make The Time For Self-Care
By 30, you should have a pretty solid self-care routine, all in the name of maintaining good physical and mental health. This'll include getting enough sleep and practicing good sleep hygiene, keeping that previously mentioned work/life balance, and making sure everyone in your life adds to it only in a positive way.
20. Take Great Care Of Your Skin
While this doesn't have to be your number one priority, if you don't want it to be, your late 20s and early 30s are the prime time for skincare. "Making time for sleep and exercise, and always wearing sunscreen are going to ensure amazing skin for all women," says Dr. Sonam Yadav, medical director at JUVERNE.
21. Ask For What You Want In Bed
"Thirty is a great time for women to start embracing their sexual desires," Tara Struyk, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Kinkly, tells Bustle. "This means exploring their own bodies, accepting their fantasies and quirks, and talking openly and honestly with their sexual partners."
22. Allow Yourself To Grow
Thirty is a time for big changes, so go ahead and let 'em happen. "Give yourself permission to grow, mess up, and forgive yourself," Dr. Frowsa Booker-Drew tells Bustle. "Life is messy. It is in the challenging times that we grow and that growth changes us."
23. Know How How To Cook A Signature Dish
If you can reach 30 knowing how to whip up a signature dish, your life will be better as a result. "Not only are there nutritional benefits, cooking has been proven to increase creativity, encourage single-task focusing after a technology-ridden day, develop cultural appreciation, and also is a fantastic bonding exercise with partners," Jenn Nicken, founder & CEO of The Chef & The Dish, tells Bustle. So get some groceries and get to it.
24. It's OK To Do Things Alone
Traveling, living, and eating alone — this is the stuff of nightmares for people in their teens and 20s. So hopefully, by the time you hit 30, you can fully appreciate the art of being alone. As life and wellness coach Melody Pourmoradi CEC, AADP says, "It is a sure sign that you are comfortable in your own skin and enjoy your own company."
25. Wear Whatever Makes You Happy
While there are plenty of "rules" out there when it comes to fashion, most women realize by age 30 that it's all totally made up. So go ahead and do you, fashion-wise. As career coach and success strategist Carlota Zimmerman says, "[A 30 year-old-woman] should be able to wear what pleases her ... If she likes it, her confidence will make anything look good."
26. It's OK (And Healthy) To Travel Alone
If you can travel alone at some point in your life, definitely do it. "Some of the best trips I've taken in my life were by myself, and I met men and women around the world who changed my life, and whom I wouldn't have been able to, if I was with friends," Zimmerman says.
27. If You Want Something, Go For It
When you're young, it's tempting to look to others for encouragement and advice, as well as help with making decisions. But once you get older, it's so nice to realize you can just do it all anyway, without "permission." As Lenhardt says, "Don’t allow other people’s opinions of how you should live your life keep you 'back' from following your own heart and mission."
28. Know How To Stand On Your Own Two Feet
"Don’t wait for someone to come along and sweep you off your feet," Lenhardt says. "Learn how to become dependent on yourself, and become your own best friend." That way, no matter what happens, you'll always be OK.
29. Go Ahead And Break The Rules
It can be tempting to shrink into the background and follow the rules. But that's not always the right choice, especially when it comes to your career. "As soon as I realized that the rules were not designed to make an equal playing field, but rather, maintain the status quo, I started to rise," says Elizabeth Giorgi, founder and CEO of Mighteor. Do you want to take a different path, or try something new at work? Go for it.
30. Don't Take Things So Personally
Sure, sometimes it's personal. But oftentimes, when someone does or says something rude, or makes a decision that feels hurtful, it has nothing to do with you. "A woman should know, as early as possible, not to take other people's choices personally," says spiritual empath Tracee Dunblazier.
31. Trust Your Gut
This skill can take a minute or two to hone, but the more you can trust your gut going forward in life, the better. "Learning to listen to your bodies bio-rhythms, instincts, and inner voice expressed through the things you like and dislike is invaluable," Dunblazier says. This'll keep you out of trouble, away from toxic people and situations, and on the way to living a healthier life.
32. There's A Difference Between Your Oldest Friend And Your Best Friend
When you're young, it can feel like your current friends will be your friends forever. And in some cases, that's true. But not always. "[There's a] difference between your oldest friend and your best friend," says life coach Samantha Siffring. If he or she is no longer serving you, it's OK to let them go.
33. It's So Important To Show Up
I know... it's so tempting to stay home and give into your inner introvert. But do try to show up in life. "Go to the birthday party ... go to the wedding," Siffring says. "Even if (especially if) you don’t feel like it, moments like these are how real connections with other people are built, and following through on your commitments makes you feel unstoppable."
34. Your Inner Critic Isn't Always Right
You know that negative voice inside your head? Remember, it isn't always right. "It is something we all have that tries to keep us safe and stuck in our comfort zones, AKA not creating an exciting life we love and chasing our dreams," Siffring says. So if your self talk isn't suiting you, feel free to ignore it. Or change it up to something more positive.
35. You Choose Who You Surround Yourself With
As a mature woman of 30, you'll realize that your life is what you make it, and that often has a lot to do with who you surround yourself with and who you let in. "We can decide who gets our attention, time, and help," says life coach Cheryl Lacey Donovan, in an email to Bustle. "We are in charge of our own lives and our surroundings. We must learn to carefully select the people who are a part of our lives and avoid the ones who are negative and destroy our dreams."
If you're approaching 30, keep these words of wisdom in mind, and make the most of your new decade.
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