30 Things to Do Before 30 to Live a Successful Life 

 September 25, 2020

By  Marie

I’d like to share with you 30 things to do before 30 that will set you up for success throughout your life.

Your twenties, when you develop into adulthood, are a pivotal time in your life.

I found that many habits and decisions I made in my twenties deeply affected my happiness and fulfillment in my thirties.

Let's get into it!

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1. Become a Passionate Reader

Becoming a passionate, avid reader is by far the most transformative thing you can do in your 20s.

It is no secret that reading is the habit of the very successful.

And for good reason, too. 

Developing a reading habit, specifically non-fiction, is the equivalent of having a thirst for knowledge and a curiosity about life.

Reading will allow you to learn new skills, develop the skills you have, shape your interests, and learn about other viewpoints.

My favorite way to consume books is through audiobooks. I listen to books when I cook, drive, or even brush my teeth. Listening for just 10 minutes a few times a day will allow you to finish an entire book as fast as a week.

If you are looking for specific book recommendations, I get many of mine from Bill Gates’ blog.

So use your 20s to make reading into a lifelong habit.

It will truly change the course of your life and might be the most important thing to do on this list of 30 things to do before 30.

2. Perfect Your Communication Skills

No matter what you choose to do in your life, professionally or personally, it will involve some form of social interaction.

Unfortunately, there is very little formal education on communication either in primary school or higher education.

So in your 20s, you need to take it upon yourself.

Being able to communicate effectively will allow you to sway people in their opinions. It will help you achieve your needs from others faster. And it will help you develop strong relationships with others.

The best way to develop communication skills is to learn from others.

Specifically, books (see, this is where reading comes in). 

Check out my recommendations for the best books to improve your communication skills.

Developing these skills in my 20s allowed me to develop a level of emotional maturity few others had at my age.

Professionally, I was able to communicate with the many other generations in the world place effectively. It allowed my colleagues to see beyond my young years and really hear what I was saying.

Personally, I was able to develop communicate my point of view effectively during disagreements with loved ones. It led to stronger, more mature bonds.

But it is not just about reading books. You need to actively apply the lessons within. 

Read one chapter at a time, taking several days to apply the principle discussed.

You will be amazed at how simple, and yet effective, good communication is.

3. Travel to a Foreign Country

You should travel not just because it is fun, but because it expands your perspective on the world.

Seeing how others live, experiencing other cultures, and being exposed to new places is educational in itself. 

You never know where you will find your next passion. An idea for a new business. Or just a deep appreciation for the world.

Without traveling, your chances of finding these things are diminished.

So use your 20s to spend your money on travel, specifically outside your country. 

Travel alone or with others, just travel.

4. Develop a Hobby (or multiple!)

Hobbies are important to have as they are activities you can lean on in order to reduce stress and anxiety.

They also help you meet people with similar interests, which can lead to life long bonds.

But to find hobbies you are passionate about, you need to try many different ones.

So, sign up for various classes and activities. 

Try anything that has piqued your interest, and even things that haven’t.

Once you do find a hobby you are passionate about, aim to master it. Become an expert at it.

5. Set Long Term Goals (and achieve some!)

Many people cite their 20s as a time that they were floundering around with little direction. When they were making decisions based on their feelings that day.

Although your 20s is a great time to experiment and try many things, as I cover in this list, it is also a time to start setting some kind of direction for your life.

Admittedly, the direction will change as you discover what you are passionate about and how you want to contribute to the world.

But it is important to always be striving towards something. To have goals.

So many sure you are setting long term goals for yourself, and working actively to achieve them.

You should certainly re-evaluate your goals as major shifts happen in your life. 

But in general, you should try to achieve long term goals and setting new ones rather than constantly changing them.

Constantly changing long term goals defeats the purpose.

Check out my personal development tips to learn more about goal setting (and how to make sure you are successful at them).

6. Find a Fitness Regime You Love

As I was growing up, one of the most important lessons my parents instilled in me is that without health you have nothing. 

Literally, nothing, because you wouldn’t be alive.

Too many people wait until there is an issue they need to fix with their health in order to develop good habits.

But that is too late.

By the time that happens, you already have a routine and more responsibilities in your life. Trying to fit in an additional thing, that has never been a typical part of your life, becomes too difficult.

That’s why it is best to establish healthy habits immediately.

So take the time in your 20s to try out all types of different ways to be active.

Cycling, Crossfit (my personal choice), running, weightlifting, dance...whatever strikes your interest. Try them all!

And then, stick with the one you love. Make it part of your lifestyle.

Not only will it support your long term health, but it will be the perfect outlet for you to cope with stress and anxiety. 

7. Start Saving Money

Having your own money for the first time is exciting. 

It is also a big responsibility and needs to be treated as such.

Your 20s is the BEST time to put away money. Because it maximizes the amount of time that money has to grow.

So as soon as you make your own money- create a budget.

And then save at least 20% of it.

Put it in a 401k or IRA (once you have an emergency fund and your debt paid off). 

Trust me, you’ll thank me down the road.

8. Learn to Use Credit Cards Wisely

I wish I took my own advice on this one faster.

Credit card debt is the fastest and easiest way that individuals in their 20s compromise their financial future.

Like many other things on this list, personal finance education is not something you typically get before you are let out into the world to fend for yourself.

So time and time again, young individuals that are making their first real dollars go out and get a credit card.

And swiftly max it out.

With no understanding of the price they are paying for that debt.

Then, as they learn how crushing credit card debt is they proceed to pay it off. And vow to never use a credit card again.

Don’t be this person! Credit cards are an amazing tool to build your credit and frankly, get free stuff with reward programs.

But you have to learn how to use them correctly.

The simple trick?

Pay it off in full, every month.

Meaning you only spend what you have.

So learn to use credit cards wisely, quickly, and it will put you on your path to financial stability.

9. Develop Your Self Confidence

In my experience, the biggest thing holding back any individual from success and happiness are insecurities. 

Insecurities breed doubt, which is the first step towards failure.

That is why it is so important to develop your self-confidence in your 20s.

People aren’t born confident or insecure. They develop either through their life experiences and interactions. Based on personality, some people are more prone to confidence or insecurity.

But confidence, just like anything else, is something you can learn and develop by actively working on it.

It isn’t easy. It takes a lot of effort.

It’s scary, as you have to be honest with yourself and face what you hate about yourself (insecurities). 

But having self-confidence will provide you the freedom you need as an adult to chance what you want in life. 

So it is one of the most valuable things you can do for yourself.

And the earlier you do it, the more time you will have to truly go after what you want full force.

Don’t know where to start? Check out my tips for developing self-confidence.

10. Move to a New City

Similar to traveling to a foreign country, living in many places provides a deeper perspective on your own country. 

It also challenges you to step outside your comfort zone. It forces you to develop new relationships and pick up new hobbies.

This type of exposure to new places, people, and things is what allows you to develop as a young adult. To truly decide what is important to you as an individual rather than what may have been instilled in you as a child.

So be brave and take that new job in a totally new city.

Don’t limit yourself to what you know. 

In order to have a fulfilling and successful life, you need to seek it out. In other places as well as in yourself.

11. Stop Caring What Others Think

There are very few people whose opinion of you, or your decisions, should matter. You should be able to count them on your fingers.

These are the individuals from whom you should seek feedback and implement it.

For everyone else, stop caring what they think.

Many young people worry how their decisions will be perceived by their peers.

This often holds people back from pursuing their passions or taking risks, which is exactly what you should do in your 20s.

Make decisions based on your goals, not fear of judgement.

12. Find a Mentor

A mentor is someone who you aspire to be like. Who has had experiences and achievements that you are aiming for yourself.

Mentors are valuable in that they can provide you with insight to make smarter decisions, help you develop skills necessary to achieve your goals, and be a support system.

As you come across people in your professional life that could be mentors, develop relationships with them. Ask them to lunch or coffee. Get to know them.

Mentorship is a bond that is developed just like any other relationship. You have to be proactive about it.

13. Learn to Cook

Being able to cook is an incredibly valuable skill.

It saves you money, supports your health, and brings people together.

And it really isn’t as hard as it seems.

So take it upon yourself to eat 80% of the time something you cooked yourself. 

Get 2-3 cookbooks and start trying out recipes that you enjoy. Eventually, you will find ones that you memorize and will be able to cook from memory.

14. Be Spontaneous

I went on a spontaneous road trip from Atlanta, GA to Austin, TX to see my most favorite band when I was 21.

My friend called me at 11 pm, while I was studying for finals, to tell me he won tickets to the concert. And we needed to be on the road in 2 hours to make it on time.

At first, I seriously considered declining. I had finals the following week. I needed to study.

And then, my boyfriend (now husband) told me I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t go.

So I went.

It’s still one of the best memories of my life. It probably will be for the rest of my life.

In my thirties I can’t quite drop responsibilities like that anymore. Spontaneity is much more difficult as you get older.

So when you have the chance to seize spontaneous opportunities in your 20s, don’t hesitate to.

15. Find Your Style

Dressing well and having great style provides you with a feeling of confidence that can’t quite be matched by anything else.

And you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have great style.

Style is about finding pieces that look good on your body type and make you feel confident. An individual with great style commands attention in a room.

Some individuals think it is shallow to care about how you look, but I couldn’t disagree more.

So take time in your 20s to experiment with clothes. Find the ones that make you feel great and build upon that style.

Command attention with your style and confidence.

16. Have Some Memorable Nights Out

Your 20s are a time with the least amount of responsibilities that you will have as an adult.

So, take advantage of them!

Make great friends and have some great times.

Go out dancing, stay out late, go to some great parties. Make memories.

And stay safe.

17. Learn to Negotiate

Most people are terrified just by the notion they may need to negotiate.

But negotiation is not just about buying a car. 

In fact, every day you are negotiating. Multiple times a day.

Whether it is with your colleague about how to do something at work. Or with your significant other about how to spend time together. Or with your roommates about responsibilities around the apartment.

Negotiation is a part of life and being able to do it successfully will benefit you greatly.

And frankly, negotiation is not about getting what you want. It is about finding an outcome that can benefit everyone.

Just like most of the things on this list, negotiation takes practice. And education. And, yes, reading.

I recommend “Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss to get you started. It is by far the best negotiation book out there.

18. Live By Yourself

Living with roommates is great and a lot of fun.

But part of true adulthood is learning to be with yourself. In your own space with your own thoughts.

Living by yourself teaches you self-discipline as you are the only one responsible for your space.

It also allows you to live in your space the way you want, without having to compromise for others.

You will learn what is important to you about your space and daily habits.

19. Take Risks

Your 20s is a time when you have the least amount of responsibilities you will ever have as an adult.

It is the time when you should go after your biggest dreams.

Take risks.

Don’t be reckless, of course. Work hard. Do your research. Learn from others. 

But if you want to start a business or move abroad, this is the time to do it.

20. Create a Skin Care Routine

Okay, this one is a bit more superficial than the others on the list I admit.

But I really wish I started wearing sunscreen daily before I turned 30!

Self-care is important.

And skin is a major insecurity for many people.

Your 20s is a great time to learn about your skin type and find products that work for you.

Oh, and yes, definitely wear sunscreen every day!

21. Learn to Manage Your Time

The one thing you will never be able to get more of is time, so it is important to learn how to manage it wisely.

Your 20s are the first years where you are completely responsible for your time.

Value your time and make sure it is accounted for.

I am a big fan of calendar blocking. It is a great way to learn how to time manage.

Learn more about calendar blocking here.

22. Wake Up Early...Consistently

This is one I did not do until I was in my late 20s. And man, I wish I did.

I was always a night owl, and I figured that is just how I was. I was not a morning person. 

I’m still not, but I wake up early. Because the mornings are the best time to get things done.

It is quiet. Other people aren’t bothering you. It’s the only real time you have all to yourself.

I love using the mornings to read. It really puts me in a great state of mind to start the day. 

Others like to work out, or get a head start on work. But everyone that wakes up early will tell you that it is amazing what it does for your productivity.

So, create a morning routine. Have a consistent bedtime and wakeup time. 

Check out this video by Amy Landino (whom I love) on waking up early.

23. Change Jobs

If you get a decent job, it is easy to get comfortable and stay there. 

But it is important to always stay vigilant and make sure you are developing professionally. 

Your 20s is a great time to change jobs or even career paths, as there are fewer personal responsibilities (e.g. kids, family) that will hold you back.

So, use your 20s to find the career path and employer that you really WANT to commit to. 

Or, start your own business if that is your passion.

24. Learn to Lead

Leading people and motivating them behind a common cause is a special skill to have. 

If you are a professional, developing leadership skills in your 20s will accelerate your career development. If you are a business owner, it will help you manage your partners and achieve your business’ needs.

Leadership will also serve you in your personal life. It will give you the capacity to support your loved ones through difficult times. To provide direction to the ones you care for.

If you are interested in developing your leadership skills, I suggest you start with “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

25. Own Your Mistakes

You will make mistakes, lots of them. No matter how hard you try to make educated decisions and learn from others, mistakes are part of life.

The most important thing about mistakes is taking accountability for them. Own them loudly.

Admit them to yourself and to others. Always.

Owning your mistakes will allow you to learn from them, rather than hiding from them.

Taking accountability publicly for your mistakes garners respect. It does not garner retribution from those who matter.

So, always be honest with yourself and others when you make mistakes. 

Admit them. Fix them. And quickly move on to the next goal. 

Don’t allow yourself to linger on them too long.

26. Get Organized

Living or working in a cluttered space will result in anxiety. It creates stress.

Having a clean space allows your mind to focus on what matters. Whether it is work or just enjoying your time. 

So, develop habits to keep your spaces clean. It is much easier to develop these habits in your 20s than later on in life.

Make your bed in the morning. Put things away that you use. Clean the kitchen and do the dishes before you go to bed. 

These should become daily habits that you do on autopilot every day.

And it helps to listen to an audiobook while you are at it.

27. Take a Road Trip with a Friend

Just like you should explore other countries, explore your own!

And doing it with a friend will bond you in a special way.

So take an epic road trip. Make spontaneous stops.

And check out some amazing places.

All of this will give you a special appreciation of your own country. And how special and diverse it is.

28. Learn About Business

Regardless of the industry you work in, whether you work for yourself or a company, or your position you will need to learn the basics of how business works.

Concepts like revenue, profit, gross margins, cash flow analysis, how the stock market works, and many others are important to understand regardless of what you do.

If you ever decide to start a business, it is self-explanatory why you need to educate yourself on this.

If you are working for an employer, understanding these concepts will provide you insight into how businesses make decisions and set strategic goals. 

Having an appreciation of this will make you a better employee and help you align your own work to the business’ needs.

You don’t need an MBA to learn about business. You just need to read (I know I know, I talk about reading a lot).

Here are some recommendations to get you started

29. Stop Comparing Yourself with Others

Comparing yourself to others is incredibly natural. But it also does incredible things to hold you back.

It breeds insecurity and self-doubt. It can turn your most exciting accomplishments into regrets, believing you should have done something else or something different.

As you get older, you start caring less about what others think of you. I think this is because as you get older, you develop more self-confidence.

Accelerating this process by actively NOT comparing yourself to others will allow you to move through life on your own terms.

Compare yourself to...yourself. Set goals. Reach for them. If you don’t achieve them, pivot and approach them differently.

But it’s not helpful to compare your journey with others, because they don’t have your goals. They aren’t you. 

Focus on you.

30. Throw a Great Party

Hosting an amazing party for all of your best friends will surely create some amazing memories. Bonus points if you do all the cooking!

Make sure to take lots of pictures. Making memories is so important of the 30 things to do before 30.

And celebrate 30 loud and proud! 

So those are my recommendations for 30 things to do before 30 to live a successful life!

Do you have any other things you think are important to master and do before 30? Let me know down below!

Check out these other articles for your personal development:

Self-Reflection Questions to Ask Yourself Regularly

Build Self Confidence, 7 Tips How to Do It

Critical Personal Development Activities and Exercises

Best Books for Communication Skills

Productive Things to Do When You’re Bored

30 Things to Do Before 30 to Live a Successful Life

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