My birthday always sneaks up on me. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and then BOOM – my birthday. 35 was a hell of year for me. From being laid off, moving to another city, and getting married, I’ve spent time reflecting as I say goodbye to the first half of my 30s, and look back at 35 lessons I’ve learned in 35 years of life.
When I was in Mexico for my wedding my friend made the comment “man, we’re getting old.” Don’t get me wrong day drinking and partying was the name of our game, but so was enjoying the food, getting sleep and eating a delicious breakfast. No partying till 2am. No sleeping till noon. Rather, balance.
I decided to share the lessons I’ve learned not as a path to go down or a roadmap for anyone, but I think we all can agree that you learn so much about yourself in this decade of your life.
This list is for those who know it’s okay to not go out on a Friday night but still feel guilty. For those who are always chasing that weight loss goal but want to enjoy life. The extraverts that don’t want to tell anyone they’re sorta, kinda, now introverts. This is for you. You’re not alone.
35 Lessons Learned in 35 Years
It’s okay to say ‘no’.
Don’t want to go to that party? Overbooked yourself all week long and dreading that Pampered Chef party your friend is throwing? Tired of spending your money on booze and want to save for something? We’ve all been there. In that place where we just want to say ‘no’ and stay home. So if you haven’t already, it’s time to stop feeling bad for reclaiming your time and doing what you want.
There is no reward for working 24/7.
I used to work with few people who would be up at all hours of the night working. Sending emails at midnight, proofing documents at 2am. And you know what they got in return? Bags under their eyes for a shitty night’s sleep.Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve had the long nights working too. In fact I’m going into a really busy time at work and have no doubt that I’ll be working more than usual to meet some deadlines. But it’s temporary. And I’m going to do everything in my power to use my time wisely so that I can spend time with my family, working on this blog, and getting my 6-7 hours of sleep at night; sleep that fuels me to preform at the top of my game because I’m well rested. Bottom line – unless you’re the lawyers from Suits or Editor of the Harvard Law Review, you’re impressing no one.
Or beer, or vodka, or whatever it is that your palette wants. Following that whole ‘you have one life to live’ theme, if you enjoy a good cocktail than enjoy it. Unless you’re sober, which is fantastic, so in that case enjoy that good cup of coffee, tea or splurge for the La Croix!
Your friends are going to be busy.
By the time you get to your 30s if you don’t have children than you’re more than likely in the minority. And it’s okay! Priorities change. People have responsibilities. You’re not 21 anymore and the main goal isn’t to decide which bar you’re going too for Thirsty Thursday.
But make time for them.
‘Busy’ is real thing, and also an easy excuse to let too much time go by to not see those that matter. By your 30s you’ll have faded apart from friends, but you’ll likely have settled into some really important, quality friends. Make time for them. Even if it’s a once a month coffee date. Because social media doesn’t count, and you always leave your date with them wondering why you didn’t do that sooner.
I don’t care if you go two hours away for a night or the other side of the world. I don’t care if you plan out your PTO to the hour like I do or go someone just once a year. Just travel. You will learn so much about yourself and others, and there is no doubt that you will be a better person for it.
It’s time to add a ‘savings’ line to your budget if you haven’t already. I mean it. Like do it NOW. I got my money shit together in my late 20s upon a quick realization that though retirement is long ways off, I want to enjoy it. And the way to enjoy it to save early and save a lot.My company has a financial advisor on staff from the company that runs our 401k and I started working closely with her to put away the max that I could, with a plan to increase by at least 1% each year until I can’t. Like literally can’t because there are laws to how much you can put away.
I also use an app called Acorns (this isn’t sponsored, it’s just a tool that I use and love). In a very-level nutshell I have all my cards connected to it where I round up each purchase I make on them to the next dollar, than I put that change into an account that is invested in the stock market. So that $4.57 coffee? $.43 is put into my Acorns account. I also contribute $20/week on my own and track my growth. It’s another avenue of saving money for me, and I have plans to continue to find ways to save in 2019.
Pay off that debt.
Some amount of debt is healthy. I know that. I was a homeowner for 11 years and about a year and a half ago I purchased a new (to me) Jeep that was a big upgrade from my previous vehicle, so now I’m a proud owner of a car loan. But credit card debt? Watch that shit. And pay it off as quickly as you can. Because that kind of debt will get you and put you in cycle of payments and interest that can be tough to get out of. Plus, the sooner you get out of credit card debt, the more you can save for travel or other luxuries that are important to you!
This also isn’t sponsored, but my favorite site to get a really lay of what your income and debt is is Mint. You can set a variety of goals, budget everything from the essentials to personal needs, and take the steps towards being financially fit.
Staying home is cool.
Seriously, it is. And I believe that as you get into your 30s you’re more secure with yourself, so cozying up with a book, movie, or a good TV show binge sounds, well, fun! Don’t fight it.
You may lose your job…and it’s okay.
This is an all too far familiar one for me. If you’ve been around for a bit than you know that I lost my job at the beginning of 2018 in a round of lay offs, and it sucked. Plain and simple. I won’t rehash it all here, but you can read about it in my post here. But you will go through a host of emotions, and believe me when I tell you that it will be okay. That things get better, and they do happen or a reason. Work hard, and most importantly don’t quit on yourself and you’ll come out the better end better than ever.
Never stop learning.
Complacency is the work of the devil. Living your life day in, day out, and having no goals, no passion – how terrible! Not everyone has to have a full side hustle, but find the passions and hobbies that fuel you. I’ll be sharing my 2019 goals soon, but I feel so driven to work on my personal hobbies. I’m so excited about them and they fuel my creative side; something my analytical business brain doesn’t get to do during my 9-5 as Product Manager.
Whether you love to read, or you have new found love of documentaries, or are teaching yourself photography or learning yoga. Keep challenging yourself to learn more, to be better, and to find the things you love to do.
That rumor about your body in your 20s versus your body in your 30s? It’s true.
I know, I know. It’s not good news for most of us. To learn that you can’t feed yourself late night pizza and drink for 4 days in a row without consequences. You actually have fuel your body with lots of water and healthy portions of fruits and vegetables.
The good news is that this is actually good news. And that sentence wasn’t a typo. You get learn how to eat a healthy, balanced diet that is filled with whole, delicious foods, and you can still enjoy pizza night or that office potluck. Your body will thank you and more importantly you feel good inside and out!
Sleep is good.
It’s actually amazing. Sleep is amazing. Show of hands if you’ve said or thought “a lack of sleep feels just as bad or worse than a hangover. At least the hangover is gone sometime during the day.”? It’s honestly the worst to be so so tired. I talked about this topic in my post comparing sleep in your 20s to sleep in your 30s.
I find that I’m foggy and not on the top of my game. I have to be 5 steps ahead at my day job, than I come home and have lots of things on my to-do list. But when I’m tired it’s a goal to just process what is being said, and I get home and curl up into a ball.
I also find that I’m emotional for no reason; I take things personal that aren’t meant to be personal, and I just want to cry. Case in point – I was so so tired and operating on about 4 hours of sleep on the night I finally watched the Netflix movie Dumplin’. And I bawled. Than I read a few chapters from current book, Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, and I bawled. And than I collapsed into a good night’s sleep that was MUCH needed, feeling back to my normal self the next day.
They suck so damn much! I very much remember the days of partying until 1am and making my 7:30am lecture the next morning while in college. Than I graduated and rode that wave; partying until 2am because YAY IT’S WEDNESDAY! Rolling out of bed, getting ready and heading into work.
Than one day, it hurt. My head. My body. My stomach. And it all went downhill from there. Now I am lucky to say that I don’t get hungover all the time that I drink. I mean, I really have to tie one on. But I’ve firmly settled into enjoying a good happy hour during the week and being home early to get a good night’s sleep and feel good for work the next day. Because while maybe there’s a chance that I won’t be hungover, but there’s much better chance of feeling miserable, and it’s gamble I’m not willing to take as often.
It’s a crazy world, but one super power that we all have, is our ability to be kind. To treat others with respect and dignity. It is appalling to me to watch someone talk down to or belittle someone else, and while you can’t control how others behave, you can control how you behave and the positivity you put out there in this world.
Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control and you have to wait. And in a world of instant access some people have lost their ability to be patient. But no matter how fast you can have your Amazon order at your door, there isn’t any way to speed up the thunderstorm coming through that cancels your flight, and sometimes good food takes time to cook. So give yourself and others some grace, and learn patience.
If you aren’t voting than you aren’t paying attention. Your vote counts. And you’re lucky to live a country where you have the right to vote (though not everyone has the right and we still have work to do). I know that politics is a tough conversation, however being complacent and doing nothing is, quite frankly, a pathetic and bad look. We have to hold the people who represent us accountable, and how we do that is by voting for those that best represent us. It’s cool to care. It’s cool to be involved. So if you aren’t voting than it’s time to educate yourself and get to the polls!
Stop complaining…you have to work for it.
There is this woman I know who complains about everything. EVERYTHING. Every single day, it’s something. She didn’t sleep well, she hates her job, her boss is mean, the weather sucks, she’s bored, she doesn’t have enough money.
When it comes to your career, your partner, achieving your goals, your health, your hobbies – don’t settle. It’s easy to think “this is it. This is as far as I get” and to just accept that, but I’m telling you – DON’T. You are better than that. You are capable of more. And good things take time, they don’t happen overnight.
One big thing I’ve learned in 35 years is that you can be spontaneous AND also be organized. My go-to example of how I balance this is that I am always doing the research to figure out the hidden gems of a place when I travel. I have the list of restaurants and things to do in my pocket, but I don’t itinerary out my days. I like to go with the flow but also have done the research so that when it comes time to figure out where to eat dinner or find a good cup of coffee, I can grab my list and pick one. My 25 page travel planner is free in my resource library and can help you plan out all of your potential adventures on your next trip. Grab it here!
Tell people you love them.
I have always been a hugger and a lover. And I’d like to think that I’m aware of the fact that not everyone else is; I don’t want to invade someone’s personal space. But when it comes to my close friends? I’m going to tell them I love them, and I don’t care what they or anyone else thinks. I’ve spent great time and care cultivating a group of quality, lifelong friends, and life can be short, so never be afraid to show and spread love.
Nobody likes a complainer.
Oh man. Complainers are the worst. I’m not talking about venting, because we all need to be able to do that. But the constant, everyday, always complaining…so annoying. If you don’t like something, than take the time to make the changes that will ultimately make you happy. If you need some help than I’ve put together a Positivity Workbook that you can start using to help you look on the brighter side of things and let those positive thoughts and outlook in your life. You will feel so much more fulfilled as a person, and you’ll naturally start eliminating those negative people from your life.
Splurge once and awhile.
We all have one life to live. So splurge. Order the good pizza. Go on the trip. Buy the top shelf liquor. Don’t put yourself into debt that can’t be paid, but you have to live a little.
Ask yourself “does this really matter?”
You’ll often find that the answer is ‘no’, particularly when it comes to the things you’re upset about. And the things that matter? Work for them. Work hard for the change you need. Learn to separate what is important and what is not, and give your energy to what’s important.
Get a massage.
This seems really superficial, and it probably is, but it’s SO worth it. If you’ve never had a massage than you likely have no idea how much stress you’re carrying in your body. Dylan had his first massage in Mexico earlier this month, and he was the perfect example of someone who had no idea how much he needed one. It’s okay to be kind to your body; it goes through a lot, so remember to treat it well.
Learn to cook.
You don’t need to be the next Ina Gartan, but learn how to cook the basics. Know how to grill a steak or a piece of chicken. Learn how to roast vegetables. Be able to be throw yourself together a simple, healthy and balanced meal. You’re an adult now and sustaining life on pizza and takeout Chinese isn’t going to cut it.
Get rid of the crap. You’re in your 30s. It’s time to let go of those mismatched plates and cups from college. Haven’t worn that shirt in 3 years? Donate it. Clean your life out and organize. Make your life easier. You’re not a college student any longer and there is nothing impressive about that lifestyle once you’re in your 30s. If you’re looking for some quick and easy ways to get started, I have a great starter list of 15 ways you can keep your home tidy and organized.
Target will take your money, despite your best efforts.
All those jokes about Target…they’re true! You WILL go in Target with a list of 3 things and leave with 13 things. You just will. Sure, once and while you’ll find yourself actually just buying what you need. You’ll probably share a Facebook post bragging about it, but the next time you go in? Right back down that rabbit hole you’ll go. This will leave you with two options: accept your fate, or go in with only the cash you intend you spend.
Things aren’t fair. Get over it.
Life lets some of us get by fairly unscathed, and some of us have to eat shit. Some of us work hard and create our own fates, and some of us sit by idly, complaining and taking no action (see ‘Nobody likes a complainer’, above). While we can’t control the cards that life hands us, we can control how we react. Learn to not sit in your own pity and realize that things aren’t always going to be fair.
It’s okay to not be married or have kids.
The expectation of people in their 30s to get married and procreate is out-of-control. If I had a dollar for every time someone started a sentence to me with ‘when you have kids…’ because they just assume that I’m having kids, well I could pay for my nonexistent kid’s first year of diapers. And it’s my understanding that that shit is expensive.I was just married this year at the age of 35 and the truth is that before I met Dylan, at the age of 32, I was perfectly okay with the fact that I may never get married. I wasn’t going to settle for anyone less than what I deserved, and I had a big, beautiful life to live that wasn’t dependent on someone else. Sadly, that is an unconventional idea. And kids? I love kids, but I don’t think I’m having my own. My biological clock has never ticked. And society doesn’t make it easy for women like me to make statements like that.I’m here to tell you that if you fall in that same boat, it’s okay. Marriage and children are not things anyone should lightly enter into. They’re incredibly life-changing commitments, and they’re your decision to make. Do not live your life based on other people’s expectations. It’s okay to for your path to be marriage-less or child-less, and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
Being assertive and strong doesn’t make you a bitch. But people will think you are.
For all of the great strides woman have made, we have a long ways to go in many regards. One of which is the double standard that exists for a strong woman versus a strong man. An opinionated, assertive man is considered strong and smart. An opinionated, assertive woman is considered an aggressive bitch. That is the sad, honest truth. Many men want to believe that they consider their women counterparts equal, but when the woman speaks up and wants to take the lead the old double standard creeps in.Keep being your strong self. Keep standing up for yourself. Keep moving your career and life forward, and if someone doesn’t see your assertive, outspokenness as anything but being a strong woman, than that’s not someone you need in your life.
Not everyone will like you.
It sucks, and it’s not fair, and sometimes they’ll have no good reason, but not everyone will like you.
Quality over quantity.
Especially when it comes friends. Sure, you’re going to have acquaintances. Coworkers, friends of friends, family members that you never see – but when you get to your 30s you realize quickly that quality is where it’s at.
All the cool kids cry.
If you ask me if I’m a crier I will tell you ‘no’. I’ve always been able to keep pretty composed when the real world stuff hits, but the truth is that as I’ve gotten older I think, and I’m admitting here for the first time, but I think I may be a bit of a crier.
The paper, a magazine, a book. Just read. I like a good Netflix/Amazon/Hulu binge just as much as the next person, but you absolutely cannot forget to fuel your mind. And no one is telling you to read War on Peace. Just read something to engage and stimulate your mind.I love books, however I know that books aren’t for everyone. One of my favorite apps is Texture, a magazine subscription app where you can literally download hundreds of magazines for $9.99/month. I have everything from People to the New Yorker to Martha Stewart Living and more in my queue waiting to be read.
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