The Big Three-Oh is a milestone in anybody’s life. But your 20s are a fertile decade for getting things done—especially things you might not have the time or energy to do when you get your life and career on lockdown in your 30s.
Here are 20 important things to do before 30.
You’ll never be freer than you are in your 20s. Take every opportunity you can to go new places and experience new parts of the world. Let each new thing you see inform your worldview as you widen your horizons.
2. Put money away
It is never too early to start a 401k or other retirement account, but it can become too late. Just remember: the more you put away early (and the earlier you start), the better off you’ll be.
3. Learn to cook
Learn to make a few simple dishes from scratch. Learn to follow a recipe. Stock your kitchen and your repertoire with a few basics and signature items, and you’ll be in good shape for growing up.
4. Learn to take care of yourself
This is the only body you’ll ever have. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself and that you can tell the difference between good health and poor health—then start making choices that will keep you in good health as you get older. If something’s off, go to the doctor. Don’t wait until it becomes a major problem.
5. Make a budget
The time for overdrawing your checking account is over. Figure out what you can afford to spend after you’ve paid your bills and stick within that range each month. Don’t miss payments on credit cards or bills or risk your financial future.
6. Live alone
It can be scary being on your own. But you also learn valuable skills and get to know yourself. You’ll develop an independence that will make you a much better partner or family member in the long run—and you’ll have fewer resentments and regrets when you do settle down.
7. Get a credit card
Don’t abuse it; pay your bill completely every month. It is vital to build good credit and you should start as early as you can. Be sure only to use it for purchases you’re certain you can pay off immediately as you establish your borrowing history.
8. Be with someone
Serial dating and casual hook-ups are great, and yeah, you don’t want to settle down for a long time … but having a real relationship, even and especially one that probably won’t lead to marriage, is an important step in personal development. You’ll learn a huge amount about yourself and how to live and love with other people.
9. Finish school
Not everyone is lucky enough to graduate in their 20s. Take advantage of the opportunity if you have it. It’s never too late to go back and finish, but it’s a great idea to get it out of the way as early as possible. The future will be yours.
10. Learn about your car
Don’t just play dumb every time your car breaks down. Get to know its anatomy and needs so that you can take good care of it—much like your own body—and maybe then it won’t break down and cost you tons of money!
11. Save for emergencies
Have an emergency savings fund for unforeseen catastrophes and unexpected expenses. You’ll never know when you might need it. Hopefully you won’t! Worst case scenario: you’ll have saved extra for something great later down the road.
12. Read more
Just because most people are glued to their smart phones and televisions doesn’t mean you can’t read an actual book now and then. It’s both relaxing and educational and will make you a better and more interesting human being.
13. Learn to say ‘no’
Set and maintain boundaries for yourself. Don’t just run off in every direction you are pushed. Learn what you want and what is best for you and try to keep that in mind when new opportunities are offered to you.
14. Build your values
Figure out who you want to be. What are your beliefs, what do you want, and what is your moral code? Figuring out your values can be a great way of making sure you’re solid in them when you really need to rely on something essential in yourself in a crisis.
15. Learn who your real friends are
Who can you call at 3 a.m. when you’re sad or scared? Who do you know that will bail on you at the last minute? Get a strong grip on who your real friends are and which people are just fun acquaintances. Then nurture your friendships carefully and hold onto them for dear life.
16. Go to the doctor
There’s a reason preventative care is now fully covered by insurance. Get your annual wellness exam. And your well woman exam—if that applies to you. Get your teeth cleaned twice a year. It’s always a better idea to be proactive. Err on the side of good health always.
17. Learn to make yourself happy
No one can make you happy but yourself. It is a skill that comes from inside. Learn to find a bit of inner peace and be happy with and in yourself. The rest will fall into place.
18. Take pictures
Most young people are constantly snapping photos to share on social media. This isn’t always a bad thing. When you’re old and grey you’ll treasure the memories.
19. Love yourself
Accept yourself for who you are—strengths and weaknesses—and learn to love yourself. You cannot love anyone else truly until you can do this. This is the key to success and happiness in life. Hold fast to it.
20. Do more
These goals are just the bare minimum. Set other goals for yourself. Then set more! Make sure to keep setting short and long term goals and constantly pushing yourself to be and do better. You’ll never regret the progress you will make.