30 x 30:
A Tough Love List of Resolutions for Your Thirtieth
Congratulations, and welcome to the big 3-0. At this point you’ve seen some of the world, made a bit of life progress, and generally have a good handle on things overall. You’re an adult in so many ways, but…you’re not quite there, not yet. Likely you’re holding onto multiple trappings of youth that keep you from reaching your true potential. Some are minor habits readily changed, while others are deeply-ingrained traits not so easily shed. To live life to the fullest you have to move past them all though. You’ll feel better, people will like you more, and you’ll finally be on the path to becoming a fully-fledged adult… This a good thing.
With that, below are a few notable insights gleaned from my trials/errors and those of my 30-something cohorts. They are meant to give you a head start on what will be the Best Decade of Your Life. Make no mistake, the items below represent some real challenges but remember this: I only want what’s best for you…Someday that’ll make sense.
NO MORE WELL LIQUOR.
Things start to fall apart after 30. Muscle mass begins a slow decline, your hairline begins (or continues) to recede, and your liver basically gives up on you. And no wonder – you’ve been drinking for a decade at least and likely have hit the bottle hard. If you haven’t experienced an all-day hangover, you soon will. Be good to yourself. I’m not saying scale back on the booze, but at least make sure it’s quality stuff. Your body and mind will thank you.
LIMIT YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA.
Increase real-time interaction, talk to strangers, and generally get your face out of a screen. It’s not about counting the number of your friends but rather about the friends you can count on (or so some smart person said once, I think). Anyway life is friggin’ beautiful, go see for yourself.
STAND UP STRAIGHT.
Not just posture but be aware of your body, both the feel and the contours (on the train or sidewalk, in bed…) Being present and confident in your form is a good thing for sure, and people will notice. Be proud, stand tall.
GET PROFESSIONAL WITH PERSONAL HYGIENE.
Sure, you can cut your own hair, trim your nails, shave your neckline, and ask your boyfriend/friend/f-buddy for a massage. And most of the time, that’s fine. But there are professionals who do all those things and more, even better. So go ahead and treat yourself – it feels good, helps the economy, and you deserve it.
START COOKING. FOR YOURSELF AND OTHERS.
A great way to enter into your 30s is by embracing your inner foodie. Not just trying new things – like you know, ethnic cuisine, vegetables, non-Starbucks coffee – but really figuring out how to cook well. You needn’t buy expensive kitchen equipment to start, just your basics will do for now. Begin with an online recipe or two and a healthy curiosity. Your goal should be mastery of a nice, well-rounded meal. Once you’re confident enough on your own, you can cook for roomies, friends, lovers. Don’t worry about mistakes as people are extremely forgiving. Just try not to poison anyone and you’ll be fine.
BUY REAL ART.
You’re a thoughtful individual who appreciates nuance, creativity, and the finer things in life. Say it with some art in your home. While you may have a flimsily-framed copy of a famous work on the wall, the real intent of this resolution is to have a creative work fashioned by human hands in your abode. Painting, sculpture, drawings, prints, letterpress, and original photography all apply. And if it’s 2D, get it framed.
Give the practice a chance – it’s not all hippies, chanting, and tambourines, you know. The benefits of strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, and agility can all be yours, either as a solo venture or a supplement to some other fitness gig you have going on. If you need any more reasons, here are two: you’ll get real bendy and be surrounded by beautiful, healthy bendy folks, too. So there.
Or I will personally smack you. Outside of all the ridiculous health reasons, it makes you look trashy and insecure. Chemical stink and leathery skin, no thanks…Don’t smoke? Give up another vice: it’s good for the soul.
In no small part, turning 30 means giving up your selfish ways. By this age, you’ve made some decent progress in life with the help, love, and support of others. Even if you’re not quite where you thought you’d be at this point, your fortunate position is a platform from which you should give to those in need. Charity is great in all its forms and feels super great, too.
TAKE SOME TIME OFF, JUST YOU, IN THE WOODS.
Maybe it’s the lure of a bygone pastime, but the nature-plus-solitude combination is kinda transformative. You have time to unplug and decompress, get some fresh air, and find some real perspective. Make no mistake, there’s a hurdle of boredom/anxiety (madness?) that comes with not having technology, a set schedule, or a constant stream of information at hand. Being quiet is hard work, but only at first.
CREATE A TIME CAPSULE.
Let me explain. Your take on the world is both highly important and extremely transitory. Sometimes you catch a glimpse of a truth and at other times you can’t see the forest from the trees. Write a little note to yourself about what you know and what’s happening right now and how you feel about things. When opened at some designated point in the future you’ll realize how very wise (and how very foolish) you can be all at once.
BECOME A GOOD HOST.
Few things ready a home for an editorial magazine spread like the terror of having people judge you through your decor. Not only will you check off those stubborn little items on your to-do list, but you’ll pull in all variety of skill sets as well: cooking, drink mastery, appropriate lighting, a well-made bed, a wellplaced stack (no fanning, please) of smart reads, and more. Endeavor to not have guests BYO if possible, but you needn’t go luxe. A good party isn’t based on a budget, but rather how memorable you made it.
TAKE UP A SPORT.
Worth saying that beginning around 30 you’re no longer given a free pass when it comes to general health, muscle mass, recovery, or a flat stomach. Did you know that if you do nothing you’ll lose 10% of your butt by the time you reach 40? It’s true. Biking, weights, running, something with a ball…Meet people, get moving. Stay perky.
GET DECENT BEDDING.
For yourself, and especially for “guests.” Includes frame, mattress, sheets, down comforter, and a variety of pillows. Don’t ignore this last part! As an insomniac with a variety of sleep positions, I can’t tell you how much I’ve appreciated options on sleepovers. It means the difference in a hasty exit versus breakfast made for you in bed. No, really.
DO SOMETHING THAT TERRIFIES YOU.
I’m not saying put yourself in harm’s way, but rather that not everything is as harmful as you think. Afraid of heights? Go rock climbing. Hate public speaking? Give a presentation at work. Emotionally scarred by a loser ex? Get vulnerable and fall in love, damn it. Life’s too short to be ruled by fear. Get brave.
READ A BOOK. A PAPER ONE.
There’s just no substitute for getting lost in a real book – it’s a conscious effort at slowing down and relaxing. Alternately, you might read a printed journal or even just a paper newspaper. The point here is to get some ink on your hands…Endeavor to browse used bookstores, too. Treasures await.
WEAR CLOTHES THAT FIT.
No, no, this isn’t a critique of any particular body type, not at all. Rather it’s simply saying that after ten years-plus as an adult you should have a sense of what looks right on you. Steer towards that, and know that investing in fewer, higher-quality items will win out over cheap volume every time.
START YOUR OWN BUSINESS.
Believe me when I say this: You’re talented and have something to offer the world. Whether it’s in creative or accounting, as a for-profit or a non-, you will learn so much about yourself and the world when venturing off on your own. Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, but nothing great ever was.
STOP GOSSIPING. BE KIND.
Enough with this. It’s not coy or funny, and being a bitch is never, ever a good thing. Point in fact it reflects more on you than on the person you’re targeting. Be nice, I promise it’ll come back to you three times over. Truth.
LEARN HOW TO MAKE A SIGNATURE COCKTAIL.
To be clear, this does not include anything that ends with “-ini,” is the color of children’s cereal, or that comes with a straw. Also, no more drinking from a straw. Just, no.
NO MORE TV. TAKE UP A HOBBY.
This is a two-part resolution… First, quit the TV shows (i.e., all that network and cable programming that’s not a film). They’re not educationally worthwhile, culturally significant, and/or socially necessary. People got along for millennia without them and you will too! With all your newfound free time you’ll now be able to pick up a hobby or maybe even some skills. The idea here is to do something that is educationally worthwhile, culturally signif – you get the point.
GET A DECENT PAIR OF SHOES.
You have no idea – NO IDEA – what a difference quality makes in your everyday life. When you don’t wince at every step and/or when people compliment your handsome-ass, good-looking shoes. In all things fashion, remember to shop around and try many pairs on. Better one pair of solid shoes that you love and feel good about than a dozen lame ones you never wear.
REDUCE TANNING. MOISTURIZE.
Let’s be honest and agree that 1. Skin cancer isn’t fun, and 2. We’d like to age gracefully. Doing these things is not vanity or self-absorption, it’s just smart livin’.
MOVE. TO A CITY, SMALL TOWN, ANOTHER COUNTRY… SOMEWHERE DIFFERENT.
Most people die within 60 miles of their birthplace, how sad is that? Endeavor for that 61st mile and beyond. You’ll find that world’s chock full of wonderful folks and things.
STOP BRANDING YOURSELF.
You’re not a product, you’re a person. Of course you have your favorite things, a collection you’ve no doubt developed through trial and error over time. But we don’t need to be reminded of them.
TELL YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY, PARTNER, ETC. THAT YOU LOVE THEM.
You’re not allowed to be scared by or cynical about it anymore. Growthefuckup. No matter your style of emotional attachment, love is one of the truest, most gratifying experiences in every one of its forms, from platonic to romantic and everything in between. Saying those three little words means “You make me happy,” “I like having you around,” and “Thank you” all at once. Who doesn’t like hearing that?
PURCHASE AN HEIRLOOM.
Not a tomato. A piece of furniture, or rug, or objet d’art (Say it again: objet d’art… mmm). In the strictest sense, this is something that you’ll pass down to your children one day. Find something that’s a classic: somewhat timeless, sturdy and in decent shape, of good purpose/utility, and that makes your little heart go pitter patter. Bonus: Endeavor to replace an Ikea-quality piece with something of high quality on a yearly basis. Yes, please.
RESOLVE TO DO MORE.
Looking forward, there may be some things you want to do in the next ten years. Anything is game, really. Here are some suggestions: Fall in love, visit your childhood home, get into politics, learn to swim, delete those compromising pictures of you online, learn to cook Szechuan cuisine. Again, anything works.
TAKE THIS LIST WITH A GRAIN OF SALT.
As much as this is a compendium of some of my own insights, I definitely don’t have all the answers. Deep down you know what’s best for you. Follow that feeling my friend, you’re wiser than you know.