Life lessons for 30-40 year olds

Life lessons for your 30s

Life lessons to excel in your 30s according to over 600 people

Author and self-improvement guru Mark Manson collated this list of life lessons to excel in your 30s. To compile the list, he collated responses from over 600 people aged 40 and over, and reportedly he was shocked to find just how consistent some of the pointers were! – the same “…pieces of advice came up over and over and over again in different forms across literally 100s of emails. It seems that there really are a few core lessons that are particularly relevant to this decade of your life.”

Here are 10 of the most common life lessons, with plenty of direct words from the people who provided the insights:

1. Start saving for retirement now, not later

According to Manson, there were a few categories this advice fell into:

  • Make it your top priority to pay down all your bad debts as soon as possible.
  • Keep an “emergency fund” — there were tons of horror stories about people getting financially ruined by health issues, lawsuits, divorces, bad business deals, etc.
  • Stash away a portion of every paycheck.
  • Don’t spend frivolously. Don’t buy a home unless you can afford to get a good mortgage with good rates.
  • Don’t invest in anything you don’t understand.

There were many responses from people who were “just completely screwed by their inability to save in their 30s.” (Mark’s words, not ours!) For example;

  • Jodi, a 57-year-old woman who never learned to save & invest, and now lives paycheck to paycheck,
  • Another unnamed 62-year-old woman who didn’t invest because her husband out-earned her. They later got divorced and she soon ran into health problems, draining all the money she received in the divorce settlement. She, too, now lives paycheck to paycheck, slowly waiting for the day her government pension kicks in.

The point was clear: save early and save as much as possible

2. Take care of your health now, not later

Just as was the case with investing and retirement savings, the message from the older responses was loud and consistent: get healthy and stay healthy now. Apparently, their points were nearly all the same: the way you treat your body has a cumulative effect; it’s not that your body suddenly breaks down one year, it’s been breaking down all along without you noticing. The 30’s is the decade to slow down that breakage.

According to Mark, this wasn’t just your typical motherly advice to “eat your veggies”. These were emails from cancer survivors, heart attack survivors, stroke survivors, people with diabetes and blood pressure problems, joint issues, and chronic pain. They all said the same thing: “If I could go back, I would start eating better and exercising and I would not stop. I made excuses then. But I had no idea.”

3. Avoid people who don’t treat you well

After calls to take care of your health and your finances, the most common tip from people looking back at their 30-year-old selves was an interesting one: they would go back and enforce stronger boundaries in their lives and dedicate their time to better people.

What does this mean specifically? – here are two of the 600 responses:

  • “Don’t settle for mediocre friends, jobs, love, relationships and life.” (Sean, 43)
  • “Don’t tolerate people who don’t treat you well. Period. Don’t tolerate them for financial reasons. Don’t tolerate them for emotional reasons. Don’t tolerate them for the children’s sake or for convenience sake.” (Jane, 52)

4. Be good to the people you care about

Conversely, while enforcing stricter boundaries on who we let into our lives, many readers advised making more time for those friends and family that we do decide to keep close.

Focus - a life lesson for people in their 30s

5. You can’t have it all. Focus on doing a few things really well

In our 20s we have a lot of dreams. We believe that we have all the time in the world. For some people, this will mean taking big risks, even in their 30s and beyond. It may mean ditching a career they spent a decade building and giving up money they worked hard for and became accustomed to. One of the responses from Ericson, 49, summed it up: “In a word: Focus. You can simply get more done in life if you focus on one thing and do it really well. Focus more.”

Which brings us to…

6. Don’t be afraid of taking calculated risks, you can still change

Many of the 600 responses reportedly commented on how society tells us that by 30 we should have things “figured out” - our career situation, our dating/marriage situation, our financial situation and so on. But this isn’t true.

Multiple responses related to individuals making major career changes in their 30s and being better off for doing so.

7. Continue to grow and develop

Many people thought the choice of going back to school and getting their degrees in their 30s was one of the most useful things they had ever done.

As Warren Buffett once said, the greatest investment a young person can make is in their own education, in their own mind. Because money comes and goes.

Here’s a few of the responses in this area:

  • “If you’re one of the few who continues to educate themselves, evolve their thinking and take care of their mental and physical health, you will be light-years ahead of the pack by 40.” (Stan, 48)
  • “The number one goal should be to try to become a better person, partner, parent, friend, colleague etc. — in other words to grow as an individual.” (Aimilia, 39)

8. Nobody knows what they’re doing (still), get used to it

Some of the key thoughts in this area were:

  • “Most of what you think is important now will seem unimportant in 10 or 20 years and that’s OK. That’s called growth. Just try to remember to not take yourself so seriously all the time and be open to it.” (Simon, 57)
  • “Despite feeling somewhat invincible for the last decade, you really don’t know what’s going to happen and neither does anyone else, no matter how confidently they talk. While this is disturbing to those who cling to permanence or security, it’s truly liberating once you grasp the truth that things are always changing.” (Prue)
  • “I would remind my 30-year-old self that at 40, my 30s would be equally filled with dumb stuff, different stuff, but still dumb stuff… So, 30-year-old self, don’t go getting on your high horse. You STILL don’t know it all. And that’s a good thing.” (Shirley, 44)

9. Invest in your family, it’s worth it

Family is the big new relevant topic for this decade for me because you might get it on both ends. Your parents are older, and you need to start considering how your relationship with them is going to function as a self-sufficient adult. Then you might also contemplate creating a family of your own.

Pretty much everybody agreed to get over whatever problems you have with your parents and find a way to make it work with them. One responder had this to say: “You’re too old to blame your parents for any of your own short-comings now. At 20 you could get away with it, you’d just left the house. At 30, you’re a grown-up. Seriously. Move on.”

Cindy, 45, summed up many responders thoughts on raising a family of your own: “It’s never the ‘right time’ for children because you have no idea what you’re getting into until you have one. If you have a good marriage and environment to raise them, err on having them earlier rather than later, you’ll get to enjoy more of them.”

10. Be nice to yourself, respect yourself

Reportedly, this point was rarely the main focus of any response, but it was present in some capacity in almost all of them: treat yourself better.

According to Mark, almost everybody said this in one form or another. As Renee, 40, simply put it: “Be kind to yourself.”

The bottom line – life lessons for your 30s

To recap, here are the top 10 life lessons to excel in your 30s:

1. Start saving for retirement now, not later

2. Take care of your health now, not later

3. Avoid people who don’t treat you well

4. Be good to the people you care about

5. You can’t have it all. Focus on doing a few things really well

Which brings us to…

6. Don’t be afraid of taking calculated risks, you can still

change

7. Continue to grow and develop

8. Nobody knows what they’re doing (still), get used to it

9. Invest in your family, it’s worth it

10. Be nice to yourself, respect yourself