As a person well into his thirties, I’ve realized that I’ve changed in important ways—both as a person and a professional—since when I was in my twenties. And contrary to the belief that getting older is a bad thing, these changes are mostly positive. Looking back, I’d like to share a few words of wisdom, based on my own experience, for a twenty-something marching into their 30s.
1. Commit to something, and give it your all—you’re no spring chicken anymore!
My first serious job after graduating from college was unexciting at best and excruciating at worst. There were days when I just wanted to quit. But there were also opportunities for personal growth, and work benefits such as medical, pension, and a chance to sock some money away.
If you find a job that has the potential to help reach your goals, don’t give up when you meet big challenges, even huge challenges. A little perseverance will pay off. Because of the time I put into that job, I matured as a person, I was approved to buy a home, and was able to save something for my future.
And you never know, nature might lead you in a new, brighter direction when you least expect it—as it did for me. But I have never regretted the ten years I put into my first attempt at a career.
2. Don’t be afraid to take risks—but work hard at whatever you do
There was a time in my life when things became uncertain: socially, financially, employment-wise, and not knowing whether I could stay afloat. A new job or a new venture, or even being unemployed, might remove you from your comfort zone or force you to stand on your own two feet.
Meet the challenge with courage and determination. Budget your money, work hard, and be conscientious about getting things right, whether it be with finding a job, working with your boss and coworkers, or managing time and money. If you put in a sincere effort, it will pay off.
3. Have a moral compass—you won’t regret it
Many people have developed a cynical worldview, thinking that their own actions, good or bad, won’t make any difference in the big scheme of things. So, they don’t bother holding lofty ideals, and it becomes an excuse for doing whatever they please.
Don’t follow that path. Get to the bottom of what’s right or wrong, and follow what is right. This could mean following your heart, being kind or compassionate, refusing to lie, or becoming a more noble or spiritual person. Your actions can make a bigger impact on the world than you think.
4. Confidence comes with experience
The world is daunting when we are starting out. College or a career are common starting places when we are in our twenties, and are filled with personal, academic, or professional challenges. Socially, we might care a lot about how others perceive us and worry about making mistakes or looking bad.
Don’t worry. Just put in a conscientious effort into everything you do, and try to be fair and understanding toward others in the best way you know how. Eventually, you’ll master the daunting tasks you need to master and become confident in who you have become—and you’ll stop caring about what other people think!
5. Be suspicious of easy ways out and extreme solutions
Life is a challenge for everyone, and that’s led many people to search for easy ways out. That’s what leads people to a life of crime, leads people to become violent extremists, or leads people to follow radical political solutions.
All of these things promise wealth, make excuses to attack others, or promise utopian solutions to life’s problems. All of them seek solutions by looking outward, but none of them ask you to improve yourself—the thing that takes the most courage of all.
The adage goes, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” Don’t be drawn in by such lures, and just work hard on improving yourself and achieving whatever goals you set for yourself.
6. Save money and plan for the future
As soon as student loans are paid off and there is extra money after paying for rent, be sure to sock that extra money away every month. By all means don’t waste it on partying! After a few years, this could turn into a down payment on a home or another investment that can go towards your future.
You will want to retire someday, so be sure to set money aside for a retirement investment. If you plan to live long, you’ll need to think long term.
7. Take care of your body
As we go from our twenties to our thirties, we may find ourselves taking the bus less, driving more, spending less time running to class, and perhaps, spending more time sitting at our jobs (driving or in an office etc). In any case, a slowing metabolism often starts to occur with related health issues: aches, pains, low energy, trouble sleeping, and more.
Try working out and eating healthily. Even a short run, some pushups, or sit-ups each day can make a difference—especially if you’ve been sitting down all day. Or try going for a long walk or taking up swimming. Try cutting out sugar from your diet and reducing the amount of carbs you consume. Introduce more dark, leafy greens and protein/meat into your diet.
It may be difficult to change your habits all of a sudden; but by introducing healthy foods into your diet gradually, and fitting them into your routine, things might go more smoothly.
8. You will appreciate downtime, recreation, and relaxation
Some people in their twenties like to party, stay out all night, and drink excessively. Some are preoccupied with fitting in with a certain group and are terribly concerned about their own social standing. Leading an exciting life is part of being a twenty-something.
Part of becoming a thirty-something is gaining an appreciation for alone-time and relaxation—a comfortable bed on a quiet night at home—maybe even meditation or some other form of mental or spiritual development. Reading is another excellent thing to take up, since education never ends. Whatever knowledge you feel that you skipped over in school or college, delve into it and make yourself a more complete scholar.
Also, your thirties might be a perfect time for traveling the world, while you still have disposable income, before starting a family. Gaining knowledge and enriching your worldview can only benefit your future horizons.
These kids with learning disabilities are smart, just listen to what they have to tell us