30 Things to do Before 30: Lessons From the Other Side

I celebrated my birthday over the weekend. Being well-entrenched into my 30s now, I can wholeheartedly say that I am loving this decade of my life. And over time, I’ve come to realize that being able to age is a privilege for sure, so no complaints about growing older from me for sure!

Buttttttttt, I would be lying if I said that I’ve never quite thought about my 20s and how I would have done a few things differently. Being the huge lover of lists as I am, you better believe that I had my own list of “30 things to do before 30”, but looking back at that list now, I am both amused and alarmed at my naivete. :P

So, I started creating this fresh list. Let’s just say that this list below is a mix of some things I regret not doing + a few things that I’ve enjoyed doing in my 20s + life lessons I’ve learned along the way! And while I won’t be able to go back in time to do some of these things I wish I’d done earlier, but maybe it can help you create a better “things to do before 30” list.

Your 20s are meant to be a decade of experimentation, adventures, and can help you create a solid foundation for the years ahead. So milk this time for what it’s worth. I hope it gives you endless happy memories to remember over the years! :)

And before we get on with the list, here is a very important PSA: if you happen to be like me, ie, someone who’s crossed the year-30 milestone a while back, I want you to know that no matter what your 20s looked like, today is as good a day as any other to START doing the things you want to do!

30 Things To Do Before 30

1| Start building a solid financial base

Which basically means – save and invest wisely!

In your twenties, retirement or building a nest egg still seems like an obtuse concept since there is usually no immediate need for it. So we feed ourselves a more comfortable story – let me have fun for a couple of years, and I’ll get to savings & investment after that. From experience, I can tell you, that “after that” usually ends up getting postponed and further postponed until an event or a big shock forces us to just do it.

And while you’re at it, make sure you’re figured out your insurance stuff. You do not want to leave this till it’s too late (or expensive).

So if you just pick one thing from this list, for your future sake, I hope you choose this!

2| Learn to cook

No, you don’t have to become the next Nigella Lawson, but you should be able to put together a decent, nutritious meal for yourself. And also no, a grilled cheese sandwich is not what I mean!

Cooking is at the very least a survival skill, while at the other end of the spectrum, it can be an amazing stress buster. And if the first couple of times you cook and the food tastes like shit, don’t give up. Cooking is a learned skill. Trust me on this, you do get better at it over time!

3| Travel

This will remain one of my biggest regrets about my twenties. I kept using frivolous excuses to not travel – I don’t have enough money (I did!), I can’t take time off from work (I could!), I have too much stuff going on (I really didn’t!).

It took me forever to figure out how much I enjoyed traveling and what a soul lifter it is for me. There is something magical about exploring your own country and the world at large!

Don’t make the same mistake as me – use this period of your life when you (likely) have relatively fewer responsibilities to travel more, and travel often!

4| Make regular exercise/movement a part of your life

The benefits of exercise go way beyond weight loss. Among other things, regular exercise leads to better sleep, improved mental health, stronger bones and muscles, lower blood pressure, and protection against chronic diseases. As for weight loss, you’ll probably get better results if you tweak your eating habits.

All this to say, don’t equate exercise with weight loss. It is so much more than that. Your twenties are the perfect time to experiment, try out different forms of exercise, and figure out what works best for you. A regular exercise habit is one of the biggest gifts you can give to your aging body and mind.

5| Learn a new language

I think there is something incredibly sexy about people who can speak different languages with ease. It’s easier to pick up new languages when we’re younger, so make this one of your “30 things to do before you turn 30”, especially if you love traveling!

6| Do something impulsive

Depending on your risk-taking abilities, this can range from taking an impromptu road trip to chatting up with that gorgeous guy/girl at the bar to quitting your job to travel the world. And what better decade to do something crazy than your 20s*!

No matter what you do, it’s highly likely that these kinds of impulsive things will lead to stories that you will talk about with much joy later on in life.

*I kid, though – there is always room for a little crazy behavior no matter what your age! :P

7| Ditch the diet mentality

Try focusing on a better overall lifestyle instead. There is a reason why diets don’t ever work in the long-term!!! Treat yourself and your body better by figuring out a way of eating that nourishes you over the long-term, rather than constantly resorting to fad diets for temporary results!

8| Find/know yourself

Dig a little deeper into your own self. Know what makes you tick, what makes you leap with joy. Identify patterns in your own behavior and try to improve on the bits that are too prickly. Seek therapy if you need to, but make an effort to grow into yourself.

Your sense of “you” becomes more deep-rooted as you grow older. Make sure your base is strong to begin with.

9| Try new experiences

A wholehearted yes to this. Try as many new things as you can. New cuisines. New adventures. Meet different kinds of people. Try out new things in your job/career. Not all of these experiences will be great, but they will all sharpen your personality, boundaries, and preferences in incredible ways.

10| Spend some time in a foreign country

This goes beyond your annual travel plans. If you can make it happen, try to spend some time working and/or studying in a foreign country. It will truly be one of the most enriching experiences of your life.

11| Learn to communicate well

Being able to communicate well is an underrated skill. It will stand you in good stead both in your personal and professional life. Seriously, take classes if you need to, read books, but do not ignore the importance of this life skill in today’s day and age.

12| Know how to handle conflicts

Personally, I hate conflicts, and I hate having to deal with conflicts. If I didn’t know better, I would run far away from all situations of conflict.

But I am learning this the hard way that contrary to popular belief, shying away from conflict does make for more peace. In fact, not addressing necessary conflicts is a sure-shot way of having to deal with a volcanic eruption later.

It’s taken me a lot of time to appreciate that a) some conflict between two people is natural, and b) not all conflict is bad. Learning to “fight” better is one of the most adult things you can ever do, and your relationships will be stronger for that.

13| Enforce your boundaries

You are not a child anymore, and you need to stop with the constant people-pleasing. Be firm about your boundaries and say no to those things and people that don’t sit right with you.

14| Find a cause you’re passionate about

Because life is wayyyyyyyy bigger than just you and your own issues.

15| Stop yearning to find The One before 30

If you manage to find yourself The One before you turn 30, yay! that’s amazing!!!

You know what’s also amazing – not forcing yourself to be in a relationship just for the sake of being coupled up by the time you’re 30!

Don’t let self- or society-induced timeline pressurize you into committing to something you may regret years later.

16| Expand your cultural horizons

Seek out as many cultural experiences as you can – plays, concerts, musicals, whatever suits your fancy! Read books on a variety of subjects. Visit museums – and no, they are not a boring thing to do! Find out about various art forms. The key here is to experiment and discover things you’re passionate about.

17| Find your people and keep them close

No person is an island. We all need to have our own people, especially as we grow older. Make it an interesting mix of people. Go beyond surrounding yourself with just “yes” people. You need people who will uplift you, cheer you on, as well as call you on your bullshit when the need arises!

18| Build some intentional white space in your life

Don’t always be rushing through life. Create some room for meaningful breaks and pauses. You’re a human being, not a human doing.

19| Commit to a hobby

Hobbies can easily become one of the biggest casualties of adult life. Try and hold on to at least a hobby or two to occupy you meaningfully during your downtime. And I am sure you can do better than calling “scrolling through Instagram” a hobby!


20| Live by yourself

No, roommates do not count. There is something so empowering about living by yourself, about being responsible for maintaining and creating your own space! Between living with a roommate for a couple of years and getting married, I lived by myself for about 3 years, and it was truly one of my favorite experiences from my 20s.

21| Build healthy routines

Think of your 20s as the foundation for the rest of your adult life, so use this time to create meaningful routines that will support the kind of life you want to make for yourself.

22| Take care of your skin

You don’t need to get all fancy here. Drink a lot of water. Even simply cleansing and moisturizing your skin regularly will take you a long way. Anything else is an added bonus.

23| Don’t settle for mediocrity

Not in your relationships. Not in your job. Not in yourself.

You deserve magic, and you are capable of magic. And yes, I know that relationships are not always all hugs and kisses, and sure, not everyone aspires to be the CEO of a company or run their own business! But this isn’t about having a perfect relationship or hustling constantly.

This is about choosing better. About doing your best. About being your best. Don’t settle for something – a person, a job, a behavior – just because it’s comfortable or because it’s a habit or a routine.

24| Practice gratitude

Make it a habit in your twenties, and you’re going to be well on your way to a happier life!

25| Stop falling in blindly with society’s definition of acceptable or normal

All through your life, you will be bombarded with messages about what’s acceptable or normal – from your body, to the way you live, to the kind of food you eat, to the kind of job you should have, whom you should marry, when you should marry and so on, and so forth. For the most part, fuck that!

Firstly, there is no one normal.

Secondly, the definition of what’s acceptable changes over time. For reference, look at the evolution of the “perfect female body” over the last few decades!

Thirdly, and most importantly – you are your own unique person, with your own quirks and behaviors*. The path to real, long-lasting happiness lies in being true to yourself, not to society at large.

Sure, you don’t have to be a rebel just for the sake of being a rebel. Just build personal awareness behind your actions – are you doing something because that’s what acceptable, or are you doing something because you truly want to?

*PS – this is not a license to be a dick, though!

26| Let go of the negative mental baggage

This one is a lot easier said than done, but the benefits of being able to let go of past baggage are incredible. You don’t have to necessarily forgive and forget. Rather, focus on learning the lesson, and moving on.

I am speaking from experience here, but holding onto old grudges and recounting past hurts like a never-ending movie in your head will never let you truly be happy. You will have to learn to make peace with the past and understand that nothing can change what’s already happened. You’re better off learning to let that shit go.

27| Kick your inner mean girl to the curb

The world can be cruel enough as it is. Do you really need your inner voice to be the one to constantly get you down?

Your words matter – the ones you speak out loud to others, as well as what you tell your own self. Choose them wisely, and let go of that constant negative inner dialogue.

28| Become an expert on something

This was something that my mentor at work told me a long time ago – become the go-to person for something, anything. Stake your claim on your “one thing” and make sure you own it.

At work, it could be anything from making presentations or creating an excel model or making a killer pitch, or whatever is relevant to your line of work.

In your personal life, take a deep dive into one of your hobbies or interests. Love traveling? Maybe you could make finding cheap air flights or hotel bargains your thing. Love wine, or a particular kind of food? Learn more about it and become a real connoisseur.

This isn’t so much for snob value but rather, for lack of a better word, creating a memorable personal brand. Going deep into the things you love will enrich your life in ways you can’t imagine!

29| Become aware about local and world news

True, ignorance is a certain kind of bliss, but in this crazy, interconnected world that we live in, I think it reflects poorly on us to not have a passing knowledge of what’s going on around the world.

And sure, you can’t possibly know everything – and that’s alright – but it won’t harm you to be more aware of what’s going on around you in general. Especially about things going on in your professional line of work – whether you run your own business, or work for someone else.

Oh, and while we’re on the topic, Twitter, Facebook, and Whatsapp are NOT news sources! Go broader, seek out reputable publications, both locally and internationally.

30| Live wholeheartedly

This is true for your 20s and for any other decade of your life in fact! It’s not about living a wild life but living a life that feels true to you. Have fun and make the most of your time. :)

What would you add to this list of things to do before you turn 30? Are there things you wish you’d done before you turned 30? I am curious to hear from you about your take on this list! Let me know in the comments below.

Photo by Lina Kivaka from Pexels

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Reading this list I probably need a re-do on my twenties HAHA so many things I haven’t yet done or mastered but I guess life long learning is a given. I was lucky enough through to travel the world as a teenager when my parents even paid for all of it. And I never really stopped only couldn’t do it as regularly with all the adult responsibilities.

  2. I loooove this list!! There are many things on here that I really want to do- I’ll come back in 7 years and let you know whether I was successful or not LOL!