Life may get a little more real when you hit the big three-oh.
You’ve got a wedding on every second weekend, proverbial clocks start ticking and Tinder swipes start getting a little more desperate.
That said, a man doesn’t fundamentally change when the clock strikes 30. Who you are at 30 is much more a product of your experiences and development throughout your formative twenties.
So, what can you do now?
Worry not, I’ve put together this list just for you. Whether you’re a teenage or twenty-something-year-old man, make sure you’ve completed most of the things set out below so you can wander into your thirties like a mean old cowboy kicking open the saloon doors, guns drawn.
Let’s get to it, boys.
Become financially independent
Arguably, this advice is hard to appreciate, given how fully we as a generation have been impacted by the actions of the previous, but no pain, no gain right?
If you haven’t already, get out from under your parent’s feet. They may say they “don’t mind” giving you a helping hand, but you should.
Have some discretion
Maybe don’t broadcast every thought you have on Facebook. No one cares. No one has ever cared.
We don’t need a thousand updates on the status of your relationship, selfies, or musings on how much of a “geek” you are. Uploading 400 photos in an album titled “last night” is not a great use of time.
On that note, you’ve heard it a million times, but traveling will open your eyes.
Don’t hit up KFC first thing when you get to where you’re going, be respectful and willing to learn. You’ll come back appreciating home much more, too.
For inspiration, check out the 28 Places Every Man Should Visit In His Lifetime.
Be able to call it a night
OK. Unless things are going well with a little cutie, you don’t have to stay up until 4am just for the sake of it.
The most mature thing someone can do is to say, “right, I’m off,” and then actually leave.
Most parties tend to suck after a certain point anyway, so try and find the peak point of a given night, and then make your move.
Learn to live with other people
College is the time to do this, and then maybe a couple of years after when you’re figuring out what to do with your life.
You’ll make horrible choices regarding roommates (if you even get to choose) and in the inevitable crises (rising damp, friends not paying rent) that follow, you’ll be sure to learn a lot about yourself.
On that note…
Ditch bad friends
I had a friend who used to literally scream at me when I told him I was trying to quit smoking, because he needed someone to validate his own choices.
This man was not a good man. Luckily, bad friends tend to weed themselves out. You might end up with no one beside you at times, but that’s okay, it happen to all of us.
In that case…
Learn to live with yourself
When you were younger, you probably had serious FOMO. If you don’t know what that means, you’re too old to worry about it. But getting older means not having to be where the party is, at least not all the time.
Get to know yourself or you’ll be running around chasing other people forever.
Put Yourself Out There
It could be a five year relationship, it could be a wistful look with a colleague at work. Hopefully it takes more than a look.
Falling in love with someone is so wonderful and horrible, so nerve-wracking and yet so becalming that you’ll hate yourself for having done it sometimes. But it’s the best thing in the world for reminding yourself you are still human.
Get your heart broken
Same sort of thing, really.
Could be big (a broken engagement), could be small (the girl whose name you don’t know turns up at the bus stop with a man by her side), and while it may sting like crazy at first, you’ll be grateful for the trouble in the long run.
Give good/bad advice
I once volunteered to teach DIY at a charity, and school children would ask me, a 23 year old, for advice.
Did I give good advice? Hell no, I was a mess. But it felt nice to be asked, to impart whatever existential crisis I was having at the time, and how best someone can avoid it.
Be a role model to someone younger
You may be a younger member of a family, and therefore your siblings, or your cousins may started having kids of their own.
The best kind of kids, you’ll find, are the ones that aren’t yours. You get to be the cool and fun uncle who everyone loves, but as soon as they poop themselves or start crying, you can hand them off back to their mom/dad like you’re the star quarterback.
Find your passion
It could be anything. Love playing sports? Love talking about sports? Love inventing new sports?
Go ahead, do these things. And do them as best as you can. You literally can’t be wrong. It doesn’t have to lead anywhere, it can just be for you, an ocean of calm in the sea of madness that is life.
Make/buy/own something that is yours
It could be a nice suit, or a house, or a set of pristine fire pokers from the 1800s.
It could even be a song you’ve written. It can just be yours, to be passed down, or shared with future generations.
Have your own place to call home
Nothing will bring you back down to Earth quicker than talking a big game to your friends, and then coming back to a nice cooked meal from your mum before you sleep in your childhood bed (shaped like a racecar).
Get out of there, soldier. Your parents may not be too happy about the empty nest, but in the long run they’ll thank you (from some booze-cruise in the Bahamas).
As much as we’ve talked about accumulating things and experiences, giving things back every once in awhile is incredibly rewarding too. Do you have any skills, or are you just good with people? If you have the time, do this.
Help someone move
In life, only three things are certain: death, taxes, and being asked to help someone move.
This goes double, if not triple, if you own a van. Get ready for it, because it will happen. However, it’s a great thing to do for someone, and you’ll need someone’s help in the future too. Pay it forward.
Begin to enjoy the finer things
Those 5 cent packets of ramen noodles got you through a lot of late nights at college, I’m sure, but as you reach the big 3-0, you would do well to try a little harder at life.
Learn to cook one impressive meal
It doesn’t have to be a signature dish of your own concoction, but if you can make a decent meal and present it nicely you’ll always be welcome at a grown-up house party.
Live in another country
Bonus points here if you manage to do it without yelling about how “cultural/spiritual/political” it is.
Knuckle down, get some friends who aren’t like you, and integrate for a bit. Learn the language. Other countries have a lot to offer beyond “not being America”.
Like you perhaps, I once did not “get” art. I once walked around a modern art museum with a friend complaining loudly like I was the coolest, most original person on earth.
Along with your newfound appreciation for being a modern, mature gentleman, it’s important to learn that a lot of art is designed to spark a conversation, so what parts of it don’t you like? What issues do you have with it? Besides, there are so many amazing pieces out there, can you really ‘not like’ all art?
Go through a crisis
“Why do we fall, Master Bruce?”
In these moments, you will find out who your truly are, and you don’t need a sad, cockney butler to help you do it. When life is good, it’s very hard to make adjustments for your own issues. Only when you’re on the floor, getting kicked when you’re down, can you find the strength within yourself.
Learn basic DIY
You don’t need to have a toolbelt or an extendable ladder, you don’t even need to strip the walls of every house you move into or grunt approvingly when you see a hardware commercial on TV. Just be able to put a shelf up straight.
Learn basic car maintenance
On a very similar note, the time to get over your fear of looking under the hood of a car is definitely before 30. Don’t tear the wheels off or adjust your power steering, but definitely check the oil and maybe learn a little bit about using jumper cables.
Learn how to use the washer and dryer
You can’t keep making your laundry someone else’s problem, or worse—never doing it at all.
Figure out your clothes, make some time every week or two, and just get it done. If you don’t like separating our colours and whites, just put it all in at 40 degrees and let God sort it out. If it doesn’t survive, it wasn’t meant to be.
Stop worrying about your purpose
I don’t think anybody really knows what their purpose is.
We spend so much time worrying about it, when these things tend to come to us when we least expect it. Do things you love and you’ll eventually realise you found it a long time ago.
Break the bad habits
Want to stop smoking? Want to get a little time off the internet? Eating nothing but junk food?
Make a concerted effort to stop before you turn 30 (as in several years before this, not when you are 29 and 364 days) or you may find some things too hard to kick.
While kicking bad habits, it’s also a good idea to develop brand new good ones. Exercise will keep your aging body (sorry) fit, release all kinds of good chemicals, and give you a brand new thing to go on and on about.
Don’t like running? Download Pokemon Go and do some walking or something.
Open up your worldview
Typically, people tend to get more conservative as they get older, and thus we find ourselves in a position where a cranky, scared older generation is running the world and ruining it for the rest of us.
Break the trend: read widely, be skeptical of news outlets, be compassionate to your fellow man.
Try anything you like
You’re still young enough to pretty much give anything a go and not be too worried if you’re terrible at it.
The sky is still very much the limit, and before you’re 30 you’ll find you have much more time to do it.
Do your best, but laugh it off if it doesn’t work.
Realise that you can’t do everything
I read a cushion cover the other day that said, “Only children think they can do everything,” and it stopped me in my tracks.
Mostly because it seemed like an incredibly depressing message for a decorative item, but also because I realised I agreed, I just didn’t know it until then. It’s fun to try things, but eventually, you must settle down, focus, and excel at your best qualities.
There you have it, guys. I hope at the very least this has added an idea or two to your bucket list.
Check out our rundown of the skills every man should know and blow out those 30 candles with an even bigger smile.