Your thirties feel different than the other decades that preceded it.
- You don't remember half your first decade.
- Your second decade is filled with abundant learning but still requires heavy parental oversight.
- In the third decade, you get a taste of freedom. Perhaps you go off to college or you get your first "grown-up job" you start getting a sense of responsibility.
The fourth, however, starts to take on a completely different aura. Responsibility really starts to take shape. If you don't work hard at your job, you probably won't progress. If you constantly consume poor food, you'll start to see the gradual effects on your body. You start to understand the predicament of choice — what you do and choose today will have rippling effects throughout the rest of your life. You start to see relationships in a different life — some people can bring you up, some can drag you down.
All in all, your thirties help reveal a roadmap for what the rest of your life can become.
How do you want to enter your thirties, however? I know for me, there were some choices I made in my twenties that helped set me up at an advantage. There were also some choices I made that now looking back (I'm currently 31) I can see were decisions I made in haste and would probably avoid if I had a "redo" button.
These are 10 things you should definitely do before turning thirty that will have a ripple effect for you for the rest of your life.
Get fired from a job
Maybe this isn’t always something you choose (i.e. layoff, etc).
When you are confronted by your superior and he/she tells you,
“You are no longer needed/we don’t want you anymore.”
It changes something within you. You get pushed against the wall with no hope. The strength you find to overcome this obstacle will teach you about your internal resolve tenfold. It helps toughen you for the other obstacles you're going to experience later on in your life. As research professor and author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance puts it,
"…grit grows as we figure out our life philosophy, learn to dust ourselves off after rejection and disappointment and learn to tell the difference between low-level goals that should be abandoned quickly and higher-level goals that demand more tenacity. The maturation story is that we develop the capacity for long-term passion and perseverance as we get older.”
Perfect putting on your oxygen mask
When you’re growing up, you are exposed to a lot of opportunity, vice, and intrigue.
You are constantly growing and learning (especially in your 20's). With that, to become a well-rounded citizen and contributing member of your community, learn to put your oxygen mask on first.
What does this mean?
Make sure your life is in order first. Many of you have probably taken a plane ride (though probably not in lite of the pandemic). Before you fly, you have to go through the FAA safety protocol. During the protocol, the flight attendant illustrates what to do if the cabin experiences a breach in cabin pressure. The flight attendant, after showing you how to put the oxygen mask on notes,
"Make sure to securely fasten your oxygen mask on before assisting others."
Why? Because if you pass out due to lack of oxygen, how can you help loved ones who possibly cannot help themselves (disabled, young, seniors, etc.). The same is true for life — if you cannot help yourself first, how are you expected to help others?
Get your heart broken and break someone else's heart
The easier one, for me, in this section is the former.
Man, I can't tell you how many times I've been dumped.
Wait…actually, I can — it's three times. Now I know, many of you who have been following me for the last 4 or so years think that I'm a Casanova. That I'm like Patrick Swayze meets J.J. Watt. Meaning, not only am I handsome, but I can dance and I'm always the physically most alpha man in the room.
Really, I'm like Tony Shaloub meets Sam Rockwell. I'm the lovable idiot that still gets respect.
Anyway — I'm getting off track. I write these two above because both teach you valuable lessons to carry with you forward. The first is the value of what you're worth. When I was dumped, really I should say that I was cheated on. I had my heart ripped from my chest and curb-stomped a la American History X. After licking my wounds and getting support from friends and family, the experience of being totally betrayed opened the door to the idea of what I deserve in a partner.
The second is a harder pill to swallow. To break someone's heart isn't an easy act (at least for non-sociopaths). For me, it taught me how to stand up for myself. I was in a pretty rough relationship. I was manipulated, I was drinking a lot when I was around her, I plain wasn't happy. The pain of hurting someone wasn't easy — but it was necessary.
To grow, you must strengthen your empathy "muscle." Relationships help you do that.
For the love of God, stay out of credit card debt
Do you know what is sexier than a leased Mercedes-Benz C-Class?
A 790 credit score.
Somehow, I always forget that when I'm trying to merge on the 110 in Los Angeles with my puttering 1.4Lt 2013 Chevrolet Cruze that barely makes it to the pace of traffic…
When you exit your 20’s and enter your 30’s you are entering a time of more responsibility.
Hopefully, you are starting to gain influence in your community. However, you can never become this beacon of influence if you are a prisoner to the credit card companies.
Among my three credit cards, I have an airline card. At least once a year, I'm able to fly to Chicago to visit my family for free (I pay like a $5.00 convenience fee or something). How am I able to do this? The other individuals who are stuck paying 16 to 24% APR on their balance help me out. Credit companies can give incentives to the people who pay on time because the people not paying on time pay an extra 24%.
Get the hell out of Dodge
Move away from the city or town you grew up in.
Going to college far away and returning doesn’t count.
I like to think, your life starts after college. Your life can remain in limbo if you remain in your hometown.
How much do you want to grow?
When I was 23 years old, I packed up my car with the essential belongings (a 1999 Pontiac Grand Am coupe — so only the must-haves came along) and moved from Chicago to Boston. I did it again, right before my 27th birthday, when I moved from Boston to Los Angeles (this time I had a 4-door, so I could bring a few more things).
When I got to each city, there were several things that I didn't have:
- I didn't have a job or income — I needed to work my ass off for one.
- I didn't have friends — if I wanted a social life, I needed to put myself in front of people.
- I didn't have family in these cities — I needed to learn what it was like to "fend for myself."
This is a unique form of growth.
No excuses — just results.
I once saw an article entitled something like,
"Contrary to what you might think, travel doesn't make you better"
Or something like that.
I almost threw my almond butter sandwich at my computer screen…
Again, similar to the previous section, a beach resort in Cabo San Lucas doesn’t count.
Travel to distant lands. Find Airbnbs and experience the trip from the eyes of the natives. Go to restaurants, bars, parks, etc, and ask the locals what they would do if they were traveling there.
There’s a story of a man traveling from Canada to London with his friends. He and his friends got a hotel room and partied their asses off for 3 days. What he realized, in the end, is he traveled thousands of miles and didn’t go anywhere.
Of course, in today's world, you're going to need to be patient and let the pandemic die down…
What makes you tick?
If you're currently in your twenties, you may not understand fully how much free time you really have.
With this free time, many people waste their time in front of the TV, social media, or at their local bar looking for inspiration at the bottom of a beer bottle.
Instead, find what makes you tick. Really think about what you're passionate about and start progressing towards the mastery of that passion. What do you have to lose? In today's world, there are millions of resources you can use to learn different skills, abilities, and information about subjects you're interested in.
What's the best part about developing your passion?
It has the potential to turn into a business. That's what I was able to do with my passion for writing and storytelling. It may not change your life overnight, however, it has the ability to grow through the years. Who doesn’t want freedom in their 30’s, 40’s and 50's?
Make sure you check your poop
What does your poop look like in your 20′s?
- Is it ever solid?
- Do you wipe so many times that you have to flush more than once?
- Does it make your dog gag when she walks into the bathroom?
All joking aside, the content of your stool is a good indicator of your overall health. The University of Pennsylvania notes that the color, size, occurrence, etc. of your poop can tell a lot about what may be going on internally with your body.
Make sure you are optimizing your diet in your twenties. This is going to be harder to do the older you get. Your energy levels are primed and to bring those levels into your later years, proper dieting is key.
Don't we all remember how pooping was before coffee and alcohol entered the picture? Bring that style of poop back!
Make sure they know your name
Remember how badass Walter White appeared when brokering a distribution deal in season 5 of Breaking Bad? He was meeting with a potential partner and was going to cut him into their meth manufacturing operation. The guy who wanted in on the cut didn't know exactly who he was talking to. White, in classic Breaking Bad fashion replied,
"You know who I am. Say my name."
White took full frame control of the interaction.
I'm not saying you should become a meth dealer. I'm not saying get into any kind of drug trafficking operation.
I am saying, in your twenties, make sure you get your face and your name in front of as many people as possible.
Network with everyone you meet. You never know what types of relationships can blossom (professionally, romantically, platonically, etc.) as time passes.
Perhaps, you meet someone who is in a similar place in life to you in your twenties. 10 years later you may cross paths and be able to build something together. You are a node in a network.
The ripple effect of your existence is beyond your wildest comprehension.
Be here now
I mean, I don't know him personally. His teachings have had a profound impact on my life, however.
All ideas of the afterlife, reincarnation, etc. aside; this is your only life.
You have this one at-bat.
This one go-around.
Your youth can be extremely confusing at times. Things won’t make sense. You will build things and they can be destroyed overnight. It's possible that right now you don't have much to show for. It seems like life is a constant battle to just remain at par.
Enjoy the fight.
Love the process.
Appreciate the moment.
You will only be young once. Go out and party. Have fun with lovers. Read books. Write articles. Sing in the shower. Realize this is it.
Your twenties are a pivotal time in your life.
What you do today, will have a ripple effect for the rest of your life. There are actions you probably shouldn't take. These are actions that will hold you back, keep you stagnant, and help steer you down the wrong path.
Then there are actions you probably should take. These actions will help you progress, they will help build and nurture relationships, they will provide you wisdom. These things are:
- Get fired from a job
- Put your oxygen mask on first
- Get your heart broken and break someone else's heart
- Stay out of credit card debt
- Move to a new city/state/country
- Discover your passion
- Check your poop
- Introduce yourself/network
- Live in the moment
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