10 changes to make in your 30s that will set you up for lifelong success and happiness

Your 30s are when things start happening in life.

Some people finally work out what career they want to do.

Others get married and settle down in a house in the woods.

And some people find out who they really are and begin living a life that is true to themselves.

Your 30s can set you up.

You’re still young, but wise enough to start making inroads in how you want your life to look.

In this article, we’re going to go through ten key changes to make in 30s that will set you up for a lifetime of happiness and success.

If you take these steps, they’ll have the potential to revive your outlook on life and place you on the right course for years to come.

1. Prioritise your most important relationships

One of the most important changes you can make in your 30s is to start being proactive about your relationships.

The flaky friend who always cancels last minute isn’t going to be there for you when you need them.

Your tinder date that keeps canceling probably won’t happen.

Your 30s are an opportunity to take a good hard look at your life and filter out the people who are a giant waste of time.

You’ve had time to experiment and have fun in your 20s, but you don’t need to play those games in your 30s.

Spend time with people who do count. Prioritize the most important relationships that will carry you forward and fulfill the true meaning of the words “true friend”.

2. Simplify your life and focus on what matters

When you have too many priorities, it’s difficult to think straight and get sh*t done.

Sure, you might have a million things on your to-do list but it’s not going to happen if you stretch yourself too thin.

The most successful people usually have a small number of priorities and they focus exclusively on them.

In Morten T. Hansen’s, From Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More, he described how top performers focus on a small number of tasks to produce high-quality work:

“Once they had focused on a few priorities, they obsessed over those tasks to produce quality work. That extreme dedication to their priorities created extraordinary results. Top performers did less and more: less volume of activities, more concentrated effort.”

People who lead cluttered and disorganized lives are rarely able to fully focus. They end up multi-tasking and doing too many things at once, without impact.

Your 30s are the time to realize that you need to say “no” to most things so you can keep your focus clear.

You’ve had a little bit of experience in your 20s, and your 30s is time to get your life together and become a master at something.

3. Reflect on your most important values

What really makes you happy? Is it making more money? Is it spending time with your family? Is it your passion project?

Your 30s is the time to redefine what is important to you. Shift the focus back to what *you* want.

You’ve had time in your 20s to figure out how the world works and what part you can play in it.

Now it’s time to create your life that’s congruent with your values.

If your current life is not in line with your values, what can you change?

Your 30s is the time to transition your life from being governed by outside forces (like pleasing other people) to putting yourself in the driving seat.

Living a values-led life is a great quality to have. But what else makes you unique and exceptional?

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4. Let go of guilt and anger

Guilt and anger won’t get you very far in life.

Your 30s are a time for more groundedness. To be kind and cool.

Being kind to others is one of the easiest ways to let go of guilt. You build people up when you can. You think of others. You help others. And you make your life about more than yourself.

We all know that in our teens and 20s, some of us have a tendency to be a little selfish.

But you’re wiser now. You understand that you’re not the center of the universe.

If you make kindness one of your priorities in life, you’ll likely be happier as well.

5. Say yes to things that scare you

Your 30s is the time to not be scared of fear.

Maybe some people believe that when you hit your 30s, those butterflies in the stomach will magically disappear.

But they won’t. They never will. But the quicker you accept fear, the more likely you’ll act in spite of fear.

We all experience fear, but it’s how you deal with it that counts.

Rather than retreating to a far corner because of fear, use it to prove yourself wrong.

The key is making sure that you move past your fear and use it as motivation.

The more you succumb to this fear, the harder it is to ignore feelings of self-doubt.

On the other hand, actively fighting these will give you better self-confidence and teach you to ignore these negative feelings.

The more you get out of your comfort zone, the higher chance that it will enlarge you.

Instead of letting fear get in the way, your 30s are the time to ride the feeling of fear and act anyway.

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6. You can find opportunities in obstacles

You’re an adult now. You have responsibilities. If you want to become successful and achieve something in life, then it’s time to accept that you’ll encounter challenges along the way.

But you’re not in your 20s anymore. You don’t need to wallow in self-pity when you’re going through tough times.

Instead, it’s time to search for the good in all the things that happen — because there’s always bound to be something that can be beneficial.

study, conducted by psychologist Richard Wiseman, suggested that an individual’s outlook on life drastically affected how successful they were in life.

Basically, individuals who are less negative about their lives are more likely to take their chances when opportunities present themselves.

Each event and experience in life naturally has a good and bad side to them.

When you actively look for positivity, your brain is going to engage itself to find it.

Our minds can’t help but close that open loop, so it searches for the silver lining: like the chance to remake your life after losing your job or practice to become a better writer after a rejected draft.

And in the end, success isn’t necessarily about what you accomplished, but it’s about what you’ve overcome.

7. Understand that small gains add up

Growing up and in your 20s you probably thought that it takes massive action in order to achieve our big goals.

But achieving big goals rarely happens quickly, nor does it take massive effort to achieve it.

You’re wiser now. It’s time to realize that making small gains every day allows you to achieve your big goals by getting slowly better every single day.

It’s time to get rid of bad habits and cultivate the good habits that improve yourself.

Reading 12 books a year sounds like a big goal, but if you change the goal to reading 10 pages a day (which leads to reading 12 books a year) then it doesn’t sound so difficult.

Small habits every day lead to significant results.

It might not seem big at the time, but a small positive habit repeated enough times can lead to something special.

You’ll be well on the way to success by the time you reach your 40s.

James Clear explains the math behind how consistent tiny improvements lead to success:

“Meanwhile, improving by 1 percent isn’t particularly notable—sometimes it isn’t even noticeable—but it can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run. The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Here’s how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more.”

8. Determine what happiness will look like for you

Rubin Khoddam PhD says that “regardless of where you are on the happiness spectrum, each person has their own way of defining happiness.”

So many of us are chasing other people’s definitions of happiness. In order to find happiness in your 30s (and the rest of your life), you need to determine what that looks like for you.

The hard part is that we often adopt our parents’ or society’s version of happiness and strive to achieve those visions in our own lives.

That can lead to a great deal of unhappiness as we come to find out that what others want is not necessarily what we want.

And then we have to be brave as we decide to step into our own lives and figure things out for ourselves.

What do you want your life to look like? You need to know.

9. Don’t rush through life.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but you can’t see the beauty if you are rushing through life.

Research suggests that being “rushed” can make you miserable.

Yet on the other hand, some studies suggest that have nothing to do can also take its toll on you.

However, the balance is just right when you’re living a productive life in a comfortable place.

Therefore, it’s important to have goals, but we don’t need to be in a hurry all the time to get things done. It leaves so much wasted time on the journey not soaking in life.

Happy people feel their way through life and they allow the good and the bad to penetrate into them so they can have the full human experience.

You don’t have to rush through your 30s. Stop and smell the roses isn’t just some old-time advice that sounds nice, it’s real-life advice that can help you be happier.

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10. Buy experiences, not things.

You might be inclined to head to your local shopping center when life is getting hard; a little retail therapy never hurt anyone, after all.

But does it really make people happy?

Sure, you might get a quick-fix of pleasure, but you know as well as anyone that the happiness derived from buying things doesn’t last.

Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, has been researching the effect of money on happiness for two decades. Gilovich says, “one of the enemies of happiness is adaptation. We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”

If you feel the urge to spend money, spend money on experiences. Go see the world. Live your life on planes and trains and in the car on the road to nowhere. You’re not going to be young forever. Your 30s is the time to experience everything that life has to offer.

According to Gilovich, “our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods. You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless, they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

Get out and find out what life is made of in other places. Spend time in beautiful parks, on challenging walking trails, and by the ocean as much as possible.

These are the places you’ll find your fulfillment and happiness, not the mall.



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Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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