After graduating from college, your 30th birthday will come up before you know it. Between friendships, relationships, job hunting, house hunting, and otherwise getting your life in order, your 20s can slip away fast! No one wants to look back when they’re older and wish they had done more adventuring and self-improvement when they were young.
Don’t forget that you also need to make time for yourself during this decade. This list contains all the awesome things you should do for you while you’re younger. There’s no time like the present to better yourself!
Check out our list below for nine things you NEED to do before turning 30!
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1. Read More Books
You may have groaned about having to read when you were in school, but you should make reading a habit before turning 30. Getting lost in a book can improve your vocabulary, help you learn new things, and let your imagination soar.
Joan Didion’s memoir The Year of Magical Thinking details the author’s first year after her husband’s death. Its honesty about learning to be on your own is perfect for young adulthood.The Group by Mary McCarthy follows a group of female friends who speak frankly about young women’s issues like sex, careers, and more. It’s a must-read for all young women!
If you want an all-in-one book of advice for your 20s, pick up Meg Jay’s The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now. It’s like carrying a big sister around in your bag!
Check out this list for even more awesome book suggestions!
2. See The World
While you are still young, travel as much as possible! Make a list of all the places you have been dying to visit and make a real plan to get there. Traveling will only get harder when you’re in a more important job, taking care of kids, and trying to pay off a house.
When you’re making your travel plans, consider what you really want to get out of seeing the world. Exploring new places alone is a great way to learn things about yourself. You’ll become more independent and really enjoy the trip because you won’t have to make any compromises. Traveling with a partner or friends creates life-long memories and strengthens bonds. Plus it’s always more fun to make memories when you have someone to share them with later!
Think you don’t have the budget for your dream vacation before turning 30? Travelation has amazing deals on airfare to places all over the world. Pretty much anywhere you want to fly to, Travelation can help you get there for a fraction of normal prices. Just use Coupon Code FLYTL15 to get $15 off!
3. Keep A Journal
Journaling isn’t just for preteens writing down their crushes. Get back into the habit before turning 30! Writing down your thoughts, feelings, and goals is a healthy way to deal with your busy adult life. There are so many reasons to journal, so decide what you want to get out of it before you start. Here’s some ideas:
- Practice gratitude
- Track your mood or mental health
- Make lists
- Express your creativity with writing exercises
- Rediscover who you are as a person
- Figure out how foods correlate to your health
- Log small details you wouldn’t remember otherwise
Still don’t know where to start? Try The 5 Minute Journal. This journal helps improve your mental health by writing just a few minutes each morning and night. You’ll write down a daily affirmation, expectations for the day, and reflections on the great things that happened that day. By practicing gratitude, even in a private journal, you’ll feel happier and more optimistic and maybe even improve your relationships with others.
4. Donate To Charity
Let’s be honest.
Nothing feels better than giving back. One of the most accessible ways to do this is to volunteer your time. Before turning 30, it’s important to find your passion causes and give as much of yourself to them as you can. You don’t need any money to do this, just a desire to help others! Donating your time can include everything from tutoring local kiddos to manning the charity’s booth at a street fair to cleaning puppy cages at an animal shelter.
By the time you’re 30, you may have a little more disposable income to give to causes you are passionate about. If you do, that’s awesome! Charity USA allows you to donate to a wide variety of charities, including those that help people, animals, and the environment by buying fun products or donating directly. If you’re on a tighter budget, you can even help these causes out at no cost to you by clicking on the free contribution button!
5. Discover Your Heritage
If you’ve ever wondered about your family background, now is the time to find out. Figuring out your background before turning 30 can really help you establish a sense of self. Even if it doesn’t have a huge impact on you personally, it’s fun to have a new group of people to identify with. You can start cooking that region’s cuisine or learn to do a native art form as a way to connect.
But where do I start?
Talk to your family about stories from their childhoods. It’s amazing what stories people will remember! Old diaries and photo albums are also awesome primary resources for family histories. You can even do some genealogy research at your local library, cemeteries, and historical society to find out where you came from. You may even find a distant family member you resemble!
23andme does the work for you by analyzing your DNA to figure out your ancestry. Once you know where your family is from, start planning a trip around the world that is uniquely you! Physically visiting the places your ancestors lived may spark some inspiration and connection with other countries that you never knew you had.
6. Love Yourself
Everyone has things they don’t like about themselves. But as we get older, it’s important to learn to love yourself, flaws and all. Often we’re our own worst critics, and what we see as undesirable, others may find beautiful. For example, I used to hate being so short (I’m just shy of 5 foot 1!) but my husband loves tiny girls, so I was his ideal.
Try to stop criticizing your body and instead focus that energy and attention on what you can do to make it as healthy as possible. Whenever I’m feeling down on myself, a super sweaty workout or a healthy meal instantly makes me love what I see in the mirror. Embrace the things that make you unique, beautiful you!
Learning to love yourself as you are isn’t just about the outside, either. Before turning 30, try to appreciate how awesome you are on the inside, too! Like many women, I’m so guilty of seeing only the things I still need to improve on rather than what I’ve achieved. Take some time to recognize all the things you can and have done and all of your amazing qualities . . . soon you’ll see why so many people love you!
If you still need some motivation to give yourself all the love you deserve, check out this video. Though she was just a teen when she gave this TED Talk, Caitlyn Roux has wisdom beyond her years about letting go of negativity and worry to love yourself first and foremost.
Let’s face it: we’re not getting any younger. Getting fit will only get harder as we age, so now is the best time to start exercising! Whether you want to lose weight, tone your muscles, or just feel your best, establishing a regular exercise routine before turning 30 is key.
But that doesn’t mean you have to log a bunch of hours on the dreadmill. If running fills you with dread, there are tons of other options for getting in shape. Kickboxing, yoga, barre, Crossfit, the list goes on. Research gyms and fitness classes near you (or check out YouTube if you’re on a budget) and find your passion!
Most importantly, do what makes you feel good. Obviously, you’re going to be a bit tired and sore, especially if you are new to working out. That’s normal! But if you feel like you’re going to pass out or you can’t walk the next day, cut yourself some slack. This goes double if you’re on your period or have been sick, as your body needs rest to heal and recover. Skipping a workout to rest is way better for you than exercising when your body is exhausted and hurting yourself!
8. Learn To Cook
While ramen and TV dinners every night might have been your norm in your 20s, learning to cook is essential before turning 30. No one is asking you to become a gourmet chef overnight, but every woman should have at least a handful of delicious, nutritious recipes up her sleeve. Even simply learning cooking techniques like baking, boiling, frying, and roasting will set you up for endless dinner possibilities.
The best part?
Cooking your own meals means you can control exactly what goes into them. Preservatives, artificial colors, and other nasties are found all over processed food. If you make your meals from scratch, it’s easier to eat the stuff you want and avoid the stuff you don’t! I’ll admit I do still use some convenience items for faster, easier meals, but do it in moderation. No more frozen chicken nuggets night after night!
Literally have no time to cook? Invest in a slow cooker and try some of Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook: 1400 Best Slow Cooker Recipes!. Your food will be ready to eat when you get home from work! Plus the lower, slower cooking temperature ensures tons of flavor seeps into your food . . . yum!
9. Pull An All-Nighter
You probably did this a lot in college finishing assignments. But before you’re no longer in your 20s, you should stay up all night for fun! Whether it’s hitting the club, chatting with your partner, sharing secrets with your girlfriends, or watching the sunrise in nature, do this while you still can.
Recovering from an all-nighter will be harder soon! The further I get into my 20s, the more I feel those glasses of wine I enjoy while gossiping with friends. Kids, a demanding job, and other adult stresses can also get in the way, so live it up now before turning 30!
If you can’t bear the thought of giving up an entire night of precious sleep for no real reason, here are some ideas for how to pull an awesome all-nighter:
- Bachelorette party
- 30th birthday party
- Road trip
- Meteor shower or some other astronomical event
- Midnight movie premiere
The years leading up to turning the big 3-0 are some of the scariest and the best. Even though you’re just getting on your feet as an adult and have a lot to worry about, take some time to have fun and embrace your youth, too!
While all these things are beneficial to your health and happiness during your 20s, don’t stress. They’re supposed to make you happy! Complete them in your own way and on your own time to make coming up on your 30th birthday less full of dread.
What things do you think everyone should do before turning 30? What was your favorite suggestion on this list? Do you disagree with any of my picks? We’d love you to share your opinions in the comments below!