“I should have it figured out by now. I should be married. I should have paid off my student loans. I should be a parent. I should have….”
Approaching your 30s may scare you if “I should..”s are at the forefront of your mind. Instead of motivating you to live your best life, these unmet expectations may be weighing you down. Here are some reminders to embrace the big 3-0 meaningfully.
Spend within your means
You are earning more than when you first started working. And you are likely spending more, too. While it is not wrong to spend more, you may experience lifestyle inflation if you don’t keep track of your finances. You may end up living from paycheck to paycheck despite your pay raise.
Moving to a bigger home or buying a car may be necessary if having children is on the cards, while other more expensive everyday expenses may eventually snowball into debt. Start by categorizing your needs and wants. Create a budget that prioritizes savings and paying off existing debts, and commit to it. You can always adjust it according to your financial responsibilities when required.
Review your insurance coverage regularly
The younger you are, the lower your premiums will be. Make the necessary changes to your existing policy if you plan to marry or have children in your 30s. Even if you are single, you may be paying off your student or mortgage loans co-signed with your parents.
When faced with new or existing financial responsibilities, cultivate the habit of reviewing your life insurance coverage routinely. It will ensure that your policy is in force even if you are no longer around, reducing the risk of your loved ones being denied life insurance claim.
Spend time with your loved ones
You may have moved out of your parent’s house. Your childhood friend may have gotten married. Your dormmate may have had her first child and moved to a different state. On top of the different phases of life and responsibilities, the pandemic has made it even more challenging to meet—causing you to grow distant from your family and friends.
Your 30s will also be a time when death occurs more frequently around you; people you know, and love, will pass on from old age and illnesses. Just as your time is finite, your energy is too. Ask yourself who is important to you. Be it dropping them a call or meeting them in person every fortnight, you will not regret putting in the effort to connect with the people you appreciate and love.
Embrace new people
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, either. As your priorities and responsibilities change, the people around you will change. You may meet a younger co-worker or your new elderly neighbor with whom you can develop a friendship.
Making friends of different ages can be a refreshing change to your 30s. You have experienced your fair share of successes and failures in your career; sharing your experiences with someone younger can support them as they start their career. Likewise, developing friendships with those older than you allows you to learn from their wide range of life experiences and make wise decisions for yourself.
Take care of your body
You may be feeling the aftereffects of 3 AM drinking sessions, needing at least three days to recover from that one night out. Embrace your 30s by incorporating habits that improve your physical and mental health.
Your lifestyle should include a nutritious diet and sufficient exercise and sleep. As your responsibilities grow, you will inevitably face more stress; learn to manage your stress in safe and constructive ways. While your body will be more vulnerable, it doesn’t have to hinder your growth. Instead, knowing how to care for yourself physically and mentally can spearhead and support the life you want to lead through your 30s.
You may be pressured to settle down with your current partner of five years or stay in your current job for security. If you invest your time, energy, and effort in a career or relationship that is no longer healthy for you, you have likely fallen prey to the sunk cost fallacy.
While the status quo is comfortable, you may be sabotaging your possibilities for healing and growth instead. Letting go and starting anew is always difficult; take the time and space to acknowledge what you need in this stage of your life. You don’t have to make big changes to grow in your 30s—making small and incremental changes can also chart your life in a different direction.
Everyone’s timeline and circumstances are different. Compare yourself to past versions of yourself and not others. Celebrate how you have grown through your 20s and know that it is never too late to change your life now. Your prime years are not behind you; they are in the making ahead of you.