There’s nothing inherently terrible about turning 30, for all its bad press. You can still be fun and adventurous and spontaneous.
So if you haven’t accomplished everything on the list below by the time you hit the big 3-0, don’t panic.
But let’s be real: The older you get, the more likely it is that you’ll have met The One, started a family, bought your own place, and moved into a management role at your company. Meaning there will be less opportunity to do things like run a Tough Mudder. Again, it won’t be impossible — just harder.
Read on, get inspired, and most importantly, start checking things off.
1. Living in a big city
Quora user Dylin Redling says he moved to Manhattan when he was 24 and then to San Francisco when he was 26. “They were the two best moves I ever made,” he says. “I highly recommend living in a city with a lot of diversity where you can meet people from all over the world.”
2. Challenging yourself physically
“While you’re young, train for and complete a marathon, a Tough Mudder, a triathlon, or something similar,” Redling says. “It will help you physically and mentally to push through boundaries and go for goals.”
As Bernie Michalik writes on 99U, training for a marathon teaches you some key life lessons, like the importance of tracking your efforts and results as you’re working toward a goal.
These skills will help pave the way for your personal and professional success down the line.
3. Learning to meditate
Redling recommends starting a meditation practice as a way to manage stress. He writes:
“You’re going to experience A LOT of stress over your lifetime, so it’s best to learn how to effectively deal with it as soon as possible. One of, if not, the best ways is through meditation. Take a class, read a book, or do some research on the basics, and make it part of your life.”
You might want to explore mindfulness meditation, which involves focusing on the intake and outtake of breath.
If you find this type of meditation helps you stay calm and focused, it’s a practice you can use whenever and wherever.
4. Online dating
If you’re in your 20s and single, there’s little harm in creating a profile on OKCupid, Tinder, or any of the dating sites out there.
As Elarie Mashi writes, “There’s nothing to lose if you try, [but] who knows what you might gain?” In other words, you might be momentarily embarrassed about logging on, but you could potentially find your soulmate.
Up your chances of finding that person by setting up your profile according to science. That means you shouldn’t post revealing photos and you should describe both your own personality and what you’re looking for in an ideal partner.
5. Falling in love
Becoming totally enamoured with someone is intimidating — what if your feelings are unrequited? What if the relationship doesn’t work out in the long run?
Let yourself fall for them anyway.
“Any number of breakups or separations cannot take away the joy and the experience of being in love,” writes Mragank Yadav. “It’s all worth it.”
Yadav says it’s important that 20-somethings learn how to fail, and more importantly, how to get back up again: “Failing comes naturally. Rising up again is something that needs to be [inculcated].”
Take a tip from now super-successful figures, like Paul Allen and Oprah Winfrey, all of whom learned from multiple professional failures.
7. Travelling alone
Now’s the time to pack up and head somewhere solo, especially if you don’t yet have kids or a mortgage.
“It will prove to be one of the most useful tool[s] in later stages of life to clear your mind, get away from stuff, or just to see the world for what it truly is,” Yadav says.
Ready to go? We put together a list of the 30 best places to travel alone, including Costa Rica, where you can stroll through the Cloud Forest, and the Greek Isles, where you can idle on the beach.
8. Starting a business
George Everitt recommends devoting one year in your 20s to pursuing a business idea. “It will probably fail,” he writes, “but you will learn so much more than if you had taken that time in a corporate job.”
And don’t worry too much about roadblocks, like not having a business degree and not wanting to invest thousands of dollars. Danny Marguiles launched an online course without an MBA and with just $US100. Later that year, he was earning $US30,000 a month.
9. Learning to code
“Computers are here to stay,” Everitt says, “and learning at least one programming language helps you understand so much about how the modern world works.”
Pro tip: These eight in-demand programming languages are the ones to have on your resume in 2016.
10. Starting a blog
Josh Fraser says writing is one of the most important and underrated life skills. You can hone that skill by starting a blog — about food, sports, relationships, or simply being a 20-something.
“As with most things,” Fraser says, “the best way to improve is to just start doing it.”
11. Learning a foreign language
“You get a really good edge in some countries of the world if you know the native languages,” writes Sankalpa Patil. “I would suggest either of German, French, Japanese, Russian.”
Whatever tongue you try to master, it could be easier than you think. Take a tip from Gabriel Wyner, who achieved fluency in four languages in a few years through the use of strategies like spaced repetition. Or, you could use the free Google Chrome extension that replicates the experience of language immersion by translating random words from whatever you’re reading to the foreign language.
12. Rocking out at a concert by your favourite band
That’s a tip from Emily Hunt. The tickets might be pricey, but certain artists might not be touring as often in years to come, so take advantage of their popularity now.
13. Taking a cooking class
Have you ever truly figured out how to cook?” asks Sachin Shubham.
As in, maybe you can feed yourself with spaghetti and omelets, but what would you serve at a fancy dinner party? Sign up for a course and learn at least one dish so you can impress guests with your culinary expertise.
14. Learning how to file your taxes
Ajay Goel says it’s one of the most important things to do in your 20s.
Yes, it’s scary. But just think how proud you’ll be knowing that you handled all the paperwork (or virtual paperwork) on your own.
If you’re clueless about where to begin, consider taking a course that will teach you the basics of filing a tax return.
15. Talking to a stranger
“It’s scary, exhilarating and a good way to think on your feet,” writes Deepak Shukla.
So strike up a conversation with your local barista or a fellow passenger on your commute — science suggests it will make you both happier.
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