the 20-something checklist: what you need to do now to kill it in your 30s

4)      Discover What Makes You Happy

This is difficult to do, and it probably won’t happen overnight, but it’s a must.  Your 20s are the best time for you to explore this world and yourself, and you need to take the opportunity to do just that.  Find what it is that brings you joy (and no, your significant other doesn’t count), and make it a focus of your life.

5)      Work Out

I don’t care what kind of workout it is, but do it.  And do it regularly. It’s good for your physical health, relieves stress, and gives you confidence.  Win, win,win.

[RELATED: 7 Reasons Why Women Need to Hit the Weights]

6)      Master the Art of Small Talk

Being personable and relatable will help you get any job you choose, and mastering the art of small talk is part of this. If you feel you’re one of those people who finds this difficult, check out this article on how to charm the socks off anyone.

7)      Find Your Style

Trends literally come and go about 50 times a season.  That’s no joke.  And just because everyone is wearing crop tops doesn’t mean you have to wear crop tops, especially if you look like crap in them.  Find what works well for you and your body type, and stick to that. You’ll find you have a wardrobe you love instead of one you hate that keeps draining your bank account.

8)      Contribute to Your 401(k)

If you have one, you need to contribute up to the match.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  You company is giving you free money, and I don’t know about you, but getting a 100% return on anything I put in seems like a damn good investment to me.

[RELATED: 5 Ways You’re Screwing Up Your 401(k)]

9)      Diversify Your Income

You should never fully rely on one income stream to fund your life. Along with my full-time job, I a) invest and b) have been renting out rooms in my home each year since I bought my house, which has earned me roughly $20K over the past 4 years.  And now I’m working on getting my blog to generate another income stream for me as well.  Will my full-time job always be my main source? Yes. But having extra cash for fun money or to help pay off debt or fund a vacation is important to have to live a balanced life.

10)   Change Your Eating Habits

As wonderful as the beer and pizza diet is, you will learn that the closer 30 approaches, the harder it is to eat that and maintain your health.  Do I still eat pizza and drink beer? Absolutely.  Do I also eat a lot of spinach and fruit? You know it.  The better you eat, the better you feel, so try to sneak in some nutrients between your Papa John’s orders.

11)   Learn to Adjust

College is wonderful because everyone is at the same place in their lives, but that quickly changes as you navigate through your twenties.  Some friends will get married and have children young, others will move across the country, others will stay single well into their 30s.  Being in different places in your life can be challenging when maintaining friendships, so make sure you learn how to adjust. Just because you can stay out until 3am on a random Friday night doesn’t mean your mom friend can, so recognize that next time you make plans.  You may not party into the wee hours of the night together anymore, but boozy brunches are just as awesome.

12)   Pay Off Your Debt

Debt is not your friend, and the fact that you have to pay the bank each month to use their money (i.e. pay interest) should piss you off enough to get rid of it as soon as possible.  Just imagine what that extra $400 per month could do for you.  So figure out how to pay it off as soon as possible.  You’ll want to have made a big dent (or paid it off in full) by the time you’re ringing in the big 3-0.

[RELATED: How to Cut Your Student Loan Payment in Half]

13)   Know How to Host a Party

And I’m not talking about an all-night rager here. Hosting parties – whether they are Friendsgivings or bridal showers or your Dad’s 60th birthday – is all about organization, and you need to be adult enough for people to trust you to pull everything together.  Learn how to cook something easy and delicious, find a few decent and cheap bottles of wine, and figure out how to work with vendors.  You got this.

14)   Aim to Fail

We’ve all been taught that failure is scary and something we should avoid, but in your 20s, you need to change that mindset and actually pursue it.  Failure means you’re taking risks and trying new things and growing as a person.  Don’t be afraid of it. By the time you’re 30, you should have at least epically failed at one thing; otherwise, you aren’t living largely enough.

15)   Learn to Ask for More

The gender wage gap a real thing, which is why all you women out there have to always be in pursuit of pay that equals your value and worth.  Many of us tend to settle for a lower wage because we don’t even think to ask for me. But ladies, if you’ve proven yourself, you need to ask.  I did this 4 years ago when I started at a new company and received $10,000 more than the initial offer. Um, yes please.

[RELATED: Get Paid What You’re Worth: 5 Fail Proof Ways to Negotiate a Raise]


I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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Kara Bout It