Think back to your 10-year-old self’s daydreams about your 21st birthday. Maybe you were convinced you would be living it up at your dream school, learning by day and partying by night. Perhaps you fancied yourself a world traveler, backpacking across Europe and spending your days sipping wine with the world’s most fascinating people.
If your dreams didn’t quite turn out as planned, it’s OK! You should still be cracking open that wine-in-a-box and celebrating your twenties. Being in your twenties is a time for adventure and whimsy. Many of us will settle down someday, create beautiful little families and become permanent fixtures in our neighborhoods of choice. But for me, that day is not today.
To fill my time between now and thirtydom, I’ll be attempting to be a little bit reckless and a little bit responsible, to fix my undeniably bad and self-destructive habits, to make goals and surpass them and finally, to make memories I will never forget.
Here is your Bucket List: 30 Things to Do Before You Turn 30:
1. Travel somewhere you don’t know the language.
Going somewhere you can’t easily communicate with other people is terrifying. But not only would it enlighten you and make you savvy to another culture, it would also force you to really learn the language — something we’re rarely forced to do.
2. Date someone who isn’t your “type.”
You will learn and grow from being around people who are different from you. Maybe the relationship won’t work out in the end or maybe you’ll meet your future spouse. At any rate, you’ll either have a great time or a terrible time, but you will learn from the experience.
3. Start your 401(k).
Retirement might be a blip on the map but it will be here before you know it. Do yourself a favor and start saving now. Especially if your company offers matching. Grow money, grow!
4. Take a risk: Go bungee jumping or skydiving or swim with sharks.
I’m talking to you non-adrenaline junkies and typical stay-at-homers. Get outside, put yourself in the hands of trained professionals, and experience that exhilarating feeling of being thisclose to staring death in the face.
5. Start investing.
This is a risk in itself. Learn enough to invest some money or have someone else do it for you. No risk, no reward.
TIP: If you’re struggling to find money in your budget to put towards investments, I highly recommend using Ebates! After you sign up and make an account, you can use the extension on your web browser to alert you when there is cash back available. You make your purchase as usual and percent of cash back is deposited into your account and then paid out to you quarterly!
6. Form your political opinion.
We live in a politically turbulent time. It’s up to us to educate ourselves and advocate for what we believe in.
Many people shy away from political discussions but by having them, you’ll come out with new, more well-rounded knowledge and, hopefully, will get to know your own opinions better.
7. Stop holding grudges.
Past grievances are overrated. You don’t need negativity in your life and you definitely don’t need it over something that happened years ago.
If you need to, unfollow of block the involved parties on social media. Don’t “hate follow” someone just for the heck of it. A grudge only affects the person holding it.
8. Start a collection.
Something fun, quirky and totally you. Be passionate about it but don’t be a hoarder!
My collectable of choice is mugs. They take up a lot of space, but they are something I use daily and always bring back memories from places I’ve visited.
9. Take a cross-country road trip.
Particularly if you are in the United States. You’ll get to experience many different nuances of the country and you can support local mom-and-pop businesses.
Pro-tip: avoid the highways for the best scenery.
10. Pay off your credit card debt.
No one wants this to begin with, but you have a chance to start off your thirties with a clean financial slate if you play your cards right (or in this case, not at all).
Debt can not only be financially devastating for building the future you dream of, but it can also be tough on your confidence.
11. Go see live music you love.
There’s something so special about seeing your favorite artists live. They aren’t going to be on tour forever, so buy the tickets and make the drive. You won’t regret seeing them live.
12. Set an annual reading goal.
I could bore you with the list of benefits of reading, but I won’t (but if you’re curious, we’ve got some right here). Go make yourself a Goodreads account and set yourself a reading goal to accomplish each year.
13. Overcome a fear.
Sometimes your fears hold you back, but don’t let them. Take steps to overcome your fear of public speaking or heights. Once you know you what you are capable of, anything is possible.
14. Get a tattoo.
Permanence is scary, so make sure it’s something that really represents who you are at this point in your life, particularly if you’re prone to regret. Make up your mind, do your research and go for it.
If tattoos aren’t your thing, there’s always fake tattoos you can wear for a few days or a piercing you’ve always liked that you can eventually remove.
15. Join a club.
And I don’t mean the list of resume-fluffing ones you joined in high school and college. I mean ones that you are really interested in and passionate about. For example, try and join a running club or a book club.
Maybe you’re into intramural volleyball or something else entirely. Either way it’s a fun way to meet new people and spend some time on a hobby!
16. Treat yourself to something really expensive.
…and pay for it in cash. Whether it’s a trip of a lifetime, a new computer, a Chanel handbag or a weekend away at an upscale resort and spa, you totally deserve it for working hard.
If you don’t have the cash now, start saving! Make yourself a savings account called “Treat Myself” and transfer $20 a paycheck until you have enough.
17. Be the first person to apologize.
It’s hard to admit when you are wrong. But it’s usually for the greater good.
Saying “I’m sorry” is something we learn as children but don’t often implement as adults. Apologize when you’re in the wrong.
18. Run a marathon and start taking care of your health.
Or a triathlon or a 5k. Pushing yourself physically is not only good for your body but good for your mind. And plus, you’ll feel really awesome with your medal.
We’re capable of far more than we think we are — and this is your chance to prove it to yourself!
And even if these extreme physical fitness activities aren’t your thing, consider improving your life in other areas of wellness. For example, getting a good night’s sleep every night makes a world of difference.
19. Forgive yourself for mistakes.
Realizing you made a huge mistake by passing over an amazing job offer might seem like the end of the world, but it’s not.
Forgive yourself and move on. This goes along with letting go of grudges–don’t hold them against yourself.
20. Learn how to cook.
I’m not saying you should aspire to be Ina Garten; just learn how to make a few fancy dishes for one of those special occasions. They might come in handy sooner than you think.
Knowing how to make risotto is a great recipe to always have in your back pocket. It’s easy one you know the steps and can be made in any variation based on the ingredients you have on hand.
21. Eat really expensive food.
Treat yourself (and maybe your significant other) to a meal at one of the world’s top restaurants. Find out what all of the fuss is about and indulge in food made by someone who invented the cooking method.
22. Pay it forward.
Ever had someone help you out when you didn’t ask for it? Even if you haven’t, you can still start a chain of positive events by paying for someone’s coffee or helping them change a flat tire.
Positive momentum is a powerful thing, people!
23. Attempt to break a world record.
In the Guinness Book of World Records, of course. There are records for everything, so round up your friends and give it your best shot. Even if you don’t quite break a record, it’s still a pretty cool memory to have.
24. Attend the Olympic Games.
Whether it’s Winter or Summer, you’ll never regret being in the presence of the world’s elite athletes and having the opportunity to watch history in the making.
25. Pick a cause and be passionate about it.
Whether it’s cancer research or clean water, donate and make efforts to help others and advance your cause.
Don’t just say you’re interested in a cause, go live it and be it — volunteer your time, fundraise or donate. Change doesn’t happen by sitting at home on your couch.
26. Make your family tree.
There is no history more interesting than your own–figure out who your ancestors were and how they impacted the world and your own life. What you find out might surprise you.
Take it a step further and record your family’s complete medical history. This will not only come in handy for you, but for future generations are well.
27. See a Broadway play.
Or a Cirque show or Blue Man Group. Put on your best dress or your tux and live it up.
28. Work a menial job.
A job where you know you won’t advance but also requires tipping. You’ll gain a better appreciation for people you come across in your future who count tips as the largest part of their salary.
If this doesn’t fit into your career plan, try picking up a second job around the holidays — you’ll appreciate the extra income and you’ll gain some eye-opening experience for those who work for minimum wage full time.
29. Become a connoisseur in something.
Whether it’s cheese, wine, tea or coffee, your garnered knowledge will always help you make small talk but also enrich your life in ways you haven’t even imagined.
30. And finally, make a list of 40 Things to do Before You Turn 40.
If only because it’s fun!