What To Do In Your 30s


This week, we’re continuing our four-part series focusing on what to do in four specific decades: 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. (No offense to those 60 and above. I just haven’t gotten there yet.)

Before we begin, a shout-out to all of you who forwarded last week’s email about “What to do in your 20s” to your friends or family members currently in that decade. I heard from so many of you. Thanks for doing that. Let’s keep that up. If you’re not in your 30s, forward this week’s email to someone you know who is.

What to do in your 30s:

  • Reduce financial debt every year in your 30s. The goal should be to enter your 40s with less debt than when you entered your 30s. Better yet, try to eliminate all debt by 40. By the way, most people do the opposite. Most people accumulate debt every year in their 30s. Don’t be like most people.
  • Stay consistent and go deep with 3 – 4 strong friendships. In his excellent book “Strength to Strength,” Arthur Brook cites research that says one of the top regrets later in life is looking back and realizing we often sacrificed friendships for work. This usually begins in our 30s due to the growing demands of our career and family. I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t have more than four friends. What I’m suggesting is go deep with 3 – 4 friends now in order to hit your 40s and beyond with meaningful friendships.
  • Get life insurance.
  • Get your will done. As a pastor for 18 years, I did my share of funerals for people in their 30s. As tragic as these were, they were even more complicated when the deceased did not have a will or life insurance. Go to your calendar, set a deadline date for one month from now and check these two off your list.
  • Take a calculated risk. Our 30s is the decade when we start settling down, and that’s not a bad thing. But too often we can choose comfort over growth. I made a career switch in my 30s which I talk about in my book, “What to do Next.” It was hard but in many ways it led me to what I’m doing now. In fact, chances are you wouldn’t be reading this if Wendy and I had not chosen to take a calculated career risk. If you need help with this, check out my free career risk assessment here:
Take the Career Risk Assessment
  • Try something new with your fitness. If you’re not a runner, sign up for a 5k. If you’ve never done a triathlon, sign up for a sprint triathlon. If you’ve never played pickle ball or golf or taken a spin class — you get the point. Try something new in your 30s and see if it sticks. If not, no problem. You tried something new. That’s a win in itself.
  • Stretch, stretch, stretch. This is one of my big regrets. I should have stretched more. Make mobility and flexibility a part of your daily routine, even if it’s just stretching for 5 minutes a day.
  • Don’t ‘should’ on yourself. Our 30s is when we start thinking, “I should be further along by now.” “I should be married by now.” “I should have written that book by now.” Don’t worry about where you’re not. Focus on making progress where you are. Also, stop comparing yourself to others. That’s often where “should” starts.
  • Find a therapist and start meeting monthly. Your 30s is actually your fourth decade on the planet. You’ve been through a lot. It’s helpful to process with someone who is a professional. Also, counseling doesn’t mean something is wrong. It means you’re human.
  • Find a faith community.
  • Prioritize Quarterly Retreats. If you’re married, this is a great idea to do with your spouse. If you’re not, this is still a great idea. Getting away every 90 days, reflecting on what went well, what didn’t and what adjustments you should make is very important. This free resource outlines how you should spend a portion of that time:
The Next 90 Days
  • Meet with a financial advisor. Topics like retirement plans, college savings funds — yes, you’ve arrived at this stage in life — are signs it’s time to get some professional, financial help.
  • Read at least one book a month.
  • Build your personal network by at least 12 people a year.

As I mentioned, this isn’t a complete list which is part of the reason I wrote “What to do Next: Taking your Best Step when Life is Uncertain.” We don’t have to figure out the rest of our lives. We just have to figure out what to do next. You can order the book or listen on Audible by clicking the links below.

Next week, we’re talking about What to do in your 40s. As a reminder, please forward this week’s email to a 30-something friend. It will be a small way of saying, “I’m FOR you.”

FOR You,
Jeff Henderson

Buy What to do Next
What to do Next on Audible


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