Clocking the ripe old age of 30 isn’t necessarily easy, as all of a sudden, there’s this pressure to settle down, get what people call a “real job” and find someone you’re prepared to spend the rest of your life with (the thought of which makes me shudder). Here are the 30 empowering things should do before turning 30:
1. Stop worrying about your age
Worrying about your age won't add any value to you but keep demoralising your qualities as a lady. Instead of worrying, you can do what I called deep thinking about how to make your living as a lady worthwhile.
2. Get educated in something you love doing
If there is something you’ve always wanted to learn to do properly, for career purposes or just as a hobby, then do it now before you become bogged down with too many responsibilities. Getting educated in something that you love, no matter how big or small, will give you that extra bit of confidence and something exciting to focus on. And don’t feel guilty if you don’t go on to use your newfound knowledge; this is just as much about enjoying the process as it is about producing results.
3. Face your fear
Here’s an interesting acronym for fear: False Evidence Appearing Real. In other words, when we fear something, it’s because our heads are telling us that that particular thing will lead to a negative result, but where is the evidence? I dare you to apply for that job you think you have doubts about being good enough for, to ask out that man you’ve had a crush on since day dot, or to finally stand up to that person who’s been putting you down. You’ll find that walking through such fears only makes you stronger.
4. Step out of your comfort zone
Personal growth only happens when we step out of our comfort zones, so break away from your routine and immerse yourself in something new and different, something which matters to you. I love hiking and last year, I hiked the Camino di Francesco, a route which took me from Florence to Rome, during which time I was essentially walking alone every day for three weeks. It was not only a physical challenge, but a mental one too, as I’m not comfortable being in solitude. However, I learned a lot about myself during this time and it made me realise that being alone does not have to be an unpleasant experience.
5. Take on a physical challenge
Find a physical activity that brings you pleasure, whether it’s running, dancing, swimming, cycling or any other form of exercise, and challenge yourself. I’m not saying you have to sign up for the next Tough Mudder or Iron Man, but committing to a race or competition of some kind will not only motivate you to get fit, but will also give you something positive to set your sights on.
6. Go on a blind date
Who knows, your best friend’s colleague’s brother might end up being the man of your dreams… you won’t know unless you give it a try.
7. Experience culture shock
While it’s all very well fleeing the country and travelling somewhere with sunshine, swimming pools and 5 star service, you’d be kidding yourself if you called this an ‘eye-opening travel experience’. Go somewhere really different, talk to the locals, try the signature dish (yes, even if it is chicken brain) and don’t be afraid to stand out; you’ll learn a lot more this way than by isolating in some English-speaking resort.
8. Begin journaling
If you haven’t already, then start writing about your life and the different things you experience, both good and bad, on a regular basis. This is a great way not only to document everything you wish to remember forever, but also to clear your head and get all your thoughts and feelings down on to paper. You’ll find you start noticing patterns and it will help give you some clarity about what it is that really brings you happiness in life.
9. Do some self-reflection
When I go to bed at night, I ask myself the following questions: have I been selfish or dishonest today? Have I let fear stand in my way? To whom, if anyone, do I owe an apology? Self-reflection is not designed to make you feel guilty or bad about yourself. On the contrary, it will help you improve, little by little, enabling you to become the best possible version of yourself.
10. Overcome heartbreak
Strange as it sounds, a broken heart is something I believe every woman should experience at least once in her life. Why? For a start, it’s inevitable and, despite the fact it hurts, it doesn’t have to be this horrifying thing we all perceive to be. Once you’ve experienced heartbreak, you’ll fear it less, as you’ll know it’s possible to overcome. We need to learn what (and who) is right for us, and sometime getting our hearts broken is the best way to find that out.
11. Get your adrenaline pumping
Even if you’re far from being an adrenaline junkie, it’s good to get a taste of this powerful hormone at least once, for it makes you feel truly alive. So go on, try your hand at whitewater rafting, jump out of a plane or do a bungee jump - you’ll be terrified initially, no doubt, but the feeling that follows is one of pure exhilaration (trust me, I’ve had my fair share of adrenaline rushes).
12. Create something
Whether or not you consider yourself to be the creative type, everyone has it in them to make something from scratch, and you won’t know what you’re capable of unless you try. Maybe you’ll discover an aptitude for pottery, painting or songwriting, or maybe you’ll finally get round to starting the novel you’ve been thinking about writing since forever and find that the words simply flow out of you. Like I say, you won’t know until you try…
13. Fail at something
We’ve all had it instilled in us from a young age that it’s bad to fail, to the extent that fear of failure often stops us from pursuing the things we really want to do in life. However, the only way you can really fail is to not try in the first place. Say you’ve always wanted to stage a play, so you eventually give it a go, only to discover it’s not the roaring success you were hoping it would be. So what? You won’t have lost anything. On the other hand, you’ll have gained all sorts of knowledge in the process, which will help you if and when you decide to try again. Through failing, we learn some of our most important lessons.
14. Break a bad habit
Think of the habit that is causing you the most harm, be it mental or physical, and make it your mission to nip it in the bud before entering your thirties. Mine was drinking too much. Yours could be anything from smoking, to checking Facebook every five minutes, to biting your nails right down to the quick. Whatever it is, the longer you do it for, the harder it will be to break so my advice would be do not delay!
15. Take up an unusual hobby
You’ve still got your youth, so make the most of it and take up a hobby that you might not be fit to try later in life. A couple of years ago, I discovered Ecstatic Dance, a form of active meditation with no structure or steps to follow - you just abandon yourself to the rhythm and move freely, resulting in a feeling of ecstasy (hence the name). From not knowing this even existed, I now can’t imagine my life without it. Besides, it’s enabled me to meet some very interesting people, including the guy I’m currently dating…
16. Get a complete makeover
Every woman ought to do this at least once: pick your favourite makeup brand and go and get a makeover with them. I’m not really the makeup wearing type, but the one time I had mine done professionally, courtesy of Trish McEvoy, I left looking and feeling like a new (and improved) woman. Besides being a real treat, there is also something incredibly relaxing about having someone apply your makeup for you.
17. Fight for something you're passionate about
It’s all too easy to talk about the changes we want to make, but how many of us actually do anything to go about making those changes? Ask yourself: what am I passionate about? Where would I like to make a difference? Maybe it’s fighting for animal rights, preservation of the environment, getting people off the streets or helping refugees. Whatever it is, if you feel like it’s worth fighting for, then it is and there’s no time like the present to get going.
18. Live overseas
As someone who has experienced living in multiple countries, I can honestly say it makes life a whole lot more colourful and interesting. You step out of your bubble and see how people live in cultures that may be the polar opposite of your own, which at times is not easy, but you’ll no doubt create some wonderful memories. Besides, facing the challenges associated with living abroad will help you appreciate the way things operate in your own country.
19. Read a life-changing book
A few years ago, I met a man in a bar in Malaysia who, for the best part of the night, I had assumed was just a few years older than me. When it transpired that he was in fact 50, I was shocked and asked “What’s your secret?” He told me, “I read this book called The Power of Now…” and that was all I needed to rush out and buy the book for myself. Little did I know, there was much more to this book than tips on how to defy ageing. Its author, Eckhart Tolle, talks about seeing things in a way I'd never contemplated, while describing what is needed to obtain inner peace. As it turns out, a great number of people describe The Power of Now as “life-changing”, myself included.
20. Slum it
Take yourself out of the comfort of your own home and spend a couple of nights somewhere considerably less comfortable, be it on the floor, in a tent, or on a lumpy mattress in a hostel dormitory. The reason for this? It will make you all the more grateful for your oh so cosy sleeping arrangements. After five nights in a hammock in the humid jungle of Borneo, I had a newfound appreciation for my bed (or any bed for that matter).
21. Do something for charity
The operative word here being “do”, not “donate”. If you already donate to charity, then I salute you. If it’s a charity you really care about though, then show that by putting in a little time and effort, volunteer or carry out a fundraiser - the more challenging and adventurous, the better! You’ll find the results are far more rewarding.
22. See your favourite band or singer play live
Never mind the cost, if you’ve always longed to see them, then go ahead and do it! The day will come when they’re no longer touring or, heaven forbid, they pass away unexpectedly and you’ll kick yourself for not having bought those tickets. So go on, allow yourself this one treat- you won’t regret it.
23. Travel alone
Solo travel may sound daunting but, in my opinion, it’s one of the most liberating things you can do. I was nervous at the prospect of travelling alone six years ago but I so badly wanted to see the world and, at the time, nobody else was willing and able to accompany me, so I went for it. What did I discover? I had the freedom to do exactly what I wanted, when I wanted and I was never actually alone, as I met more people than I would have done had I been travelling with someone else. Definitely one of the better decisions I’ve made over the course of my life.
24. Unplug for a weekend
Again, sounds daunting doesn’t it? Switching off your phone, laptop and tablet for an entire weekend. I can assure you, however, that once you get past the initial weirdness, you’ll start to see the benefits. We often resort to using technology when we’re too lazy and unimaginative to come up with something better to do, so freeing yourself of these devices means you’ll be more mindful of how you spend your time and will no doubt enjoy it a lot more too.
25. Begin practicing self-love
The sooner we learn to love and accept ourselves, the better. I remember a conversation I once had with an Italian man in his sixties, who told me he was happier and more relaxed now than he’d ever felt in his life. When I asked why that was, he answered “Because I’m finally able to accept myself the way I am”. On the one hand, I was pleased for him, on the other I thought how sad that many people don’t reach this level of self-acceptance sooner, if at all. I’m determined to make it happen before I’m sixty.
26. Make amends with anyone you hold a grudge against
It’s true, life is too short to hold grudges and really, what does anyone achieve through holding a grudge? You’ll find that, as the ‘grudger’, you are far more likely to be affected than whoever it is you’re holding a grudge against; it’s like beating yourself and expecting someone else to feel the pain. So banish your pride, get out there and make amends with anyone you feel you have a damaged relationship with. It might make you squirm, but the relief you’ll feel afterwards will make it worthwhile, trust me.
27. Practise gratitude
I once heard that “gratitude is a muscle” and, while this may not make sense to you initially, once you start practising being grateful on a daily basis, you will understand. Start (or end) your day by noting three things that you’re grateful for, no matter how big or small. You can even share these amongst a group of friends and ask them to send you their three gratitudes. Do this for long enough and, with time, you’ll notice a change in your thinking. While it’s far easier to complain and be negative, working this ‘muscle’ will gradually help you see the positives a lot more and hey, who wouldn’t want that?
28. Start saying affirmations
There’s a lot to be said for repeating affirmations out loud before beginning your day (even if you feel ridiculous doing so) and again, it is about changing your thinking. Start by focusing on ten things that you feel insecure about, or that are lacking in your life, and write them down. Then, make positive statements out of these, such as “I am going to keep my job” (this was one of mine) or “I am happy with my body”. No matter how unconvinced you are by these statements to start with, you will eventually start to believe them.
29. Develop a morning routine
This one was a game changer for me. I used to wake up for work 10-15 minutes before I had to leave the house, which meant showering and brushing my teeth simultaneously (no mean feat), throwing on my work clothes and running around like a headless chicken, trying to remember where I put my car keys and waking the rest of the house up in the process. When I finally discovered the benefits of sacrificing an extra 45 minutes of sleep in order to wake up slowly, meditate, read a few pages of a book over breakfast and write my gratitude list, I noticed an enormous difference - the stress I had previously experienced each morning, which I would then carry with me throughout the day, mysteriously vanished. As a result, my days are now calmer, happier and much more productive.
30. Write your own list
Perhaps writing your own list will clarify what it is you want to achieve by the time you’re 30, so why not take a few minutes to think about it and come up with a few personal should do’s, before slowly going about ticking each one of them off. This will help you recognise your goals and steer you in the direction you want your life to go.