The other night, I started thinking about the decade of the 20s and how important they are in a person’s life. I look back on my 20s as the most formative years in my life. My 20s may have looked different than some of my friends, but the things I learned about myself and what God wanted me to do with my life were significant.
My hope for those in their early 20s is that they would see the potential for significance in these years as well. I pray that they would start defining their beliefs and have experiences that will impact the rest of their lives. The trajectory that we start shaping in our young adult years can put us on very different paths depending on what we choose.
Perhaps not all of the following are realistic for everyone to do before they’re 30 years old. Life circumstances look differently for everyone, and it doesn’t mean you’re “less of a person” if you don’t know or experience these things before turning 30.
But in a society that continues to push maturity back further and further, I think the younger generation could use some guidance in what the important things are to help them “grow up” after they graduate from high school. I personally did many of these things before my 30th birthday, and they had a significant impact on shaping who I became as an adult. Some of them I’m still working on, as they’re lifelong pursuits.
My hope is, overall, that there would be a new generation of young leaders who choose serious and challenging pursuits over the lazy, self-serving, distractedness that is overtaking our country. May we all learn to shift our eyes toward the more important goals so that our lives make more of an impact for God’s kingdom.
So – in no particular order – here are the 30+ things I believe everyone should know and experience before turning 30:
- Travel or live in a foreign country for a short time (especially one where they speak a different language than you)
- Go on a date
- How to write and mail a letter and handwritten thank you notes
- The meaning of marriage and the family
- Live alone and/or with roommates
- Your purpose on earth
- Make a large purchase responsibly
- Hold an entry-level job for more than six months
- Take a road trip with friends
- How to sit with yourself in silence
- The meaning of your faith – define your theology and how you’re called to live it out
- How to give a handshake and introduce yourself
- Take a risk – try something that scares you
- Be mentored by someone older than you
- How to create and live on a budget
- How to write a check
- What sacrificing to love someone looks like
- Learn another language
- Read a classic book cover to cover (or more than one)
- Your political views and why they’re important
- Mentor/invest in someone younger than you
- Be single for at least a year
- What’s most important in a future spouse
- Take some sort of further education in an area that interests you
- Set goals and accomplish them
- See both oceans
- How to iron clothes and do laundry
- How to forgive someone who has hurt you
- Learn some survival or self-defense skills
- Study a book of the Bible
- How to bake bread
- Get a will written
- How to disagree with someone and still love them
- How to meal-plan, make a shopping list, and cook meals
- Live in the moment – don’t be so stressed about the future or the past
- How to set healthy boundaries in relationships
- A creative or practical skill (or more than one)
- How to host people well and create a welcoming environment
- Take a personal retreat and set aside all screens and distractions for at least a day or two
- What you want your legacy to look like when you die
After reading this list, what other things would you add to it that are important for people to learn or experience in their younger years – or older years? May we all continue to be the kind of people who are committed to growth and challenging ourselves in the years to come.