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30 Life Lessons for 30.

30 Life Lessons for 30.

30 lessons from 30 yearsCall me senile, but I was getting a little sentimental.

On Sunday, I officially turned 30. “30” wasn’t something I had originally feared, but I thought about what this nice, round, even number meant to me. Although I haven’t made the 30 under 30 list for Forbes or Inc. magazine, I’ve learned a few things in my young life that I’ll share with you.

30 Pieces of Advice from What I’ve Learned at Age 30

  1. Don’t take unnecessary crap. Whether it’s water bottles, plastic flatware or a tchotchke, try a reusable or go without when you can. You’ll deal with less clutter later.
  2. Experiences will make you happier than toys. Treating a friend to a cooking class, brunch or dinner will be more memorable than giving ‘things’, no matter what the occasion. And they’re the perfect things to put on your Christmas list.
  3. Animals relieve stress and enrich your life. Although I was stubborn about adopting an animal for a while, taking home a shelter animal was one of my best decisions of 2013.
  4. Whiskey makes everything better. But too much of it will make things worse the morning after.
  5. Send thank you notes. In the mail. Email ‘may’ be greener, but between emails, texts and instant messages, the sentiment of a handwritten note is huge. (Many apologizes to those who try to translate my hieroglyphics ‘notes...)
  6. Take your time to get mad or upset, and then move on. Everyone deals with conflict in their own way, but you’ll be happier if you let go of the toxins in your life.
  7. Travel. If you get an opportunity to see another city, state or country, take it. The world and nature around us is beautiful. But you’ll only discover HOW beautiful everything is if you experience it in person.
  8. Take classes after college. Whether it’s cooking, photography or a community-based program, there’s something about a class that enriches your mind. You even may find passion for a new hobby or career path.
  9. Put your phone away. Some of my favorite moments are on planes and in foreign countries when I cannot use my phone and am completely out of contact from “life” for a few hours. (FAA, PLEASE do not allow cell phones on planes. I hear enough over-sharing on SEPTA, thanks.) But you don’t have to leave the country to put your phone on the charger and leave the house for a few hours.
  10. Don’t be afraid to do ‘green’ things like requesting “no straw” at a popular bar or picking up a piece of trash. You may stand out from the crowd, and people may ask questions. But they may even follow your example.
  11. Love. Friends, family, lovers, pets. Just love.
  12. Experiment with recipes. A lot of the veggies in CSAs and Farmer’s Markets are weird, but you’ll find some new crowd pleasers the more you cook! And you may even find your new ‘dish’.
  13. Try not to dwell on mistakes. Learn from them and move on.
  14. Bike. For fun. For getting to a destination. Whether it’s for pleasure or to run an errand, biking breaks up a day and adds a little exercise to your routine.
  15. Cook a friend dinner instead of going out. Sometimes a healthy night in is more fulfilling than spending $50 at the hottest restaurant in town. And you’ll give a ‘gift’ that means a lot more!
  16. Talk out your stress. You’ll always be amazed at who has gone through similar situations or recently conquered a similar problem. Having a good, reliable network of friends and family will help solve your problems whether they are 2:00 on a Tuesday or Saturday night.
  17. Find an exercise you love. If you find a workout you enjoy, do more of it. Too expensive? Save money from something else in your life to pay for it. Need motivation? Find a friend who will work out with you. Your health is super-important, and if you find an exercise routine you enjoy, it won’t feel like working out.
  18. Never diet. I’m not saying to eat everything fried and artificial, but don’t obsess or mutter that word “diet” to me. Learn what actual, healthy foods are and eat them 85-90% of the time. Eat a little bit of those guilty pleasures and stop after you sample a little. If you splurge on a plateful of cheese and holiday party appetizers, eat clean for the next 4 days following. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll feel better about what you eat and have more energy. The rest will fall into place.
  19. Be there for your friends. You don’t need 100 friends to make you happy, but you do need a few good ones. Make sure to treat your friends well – you’ll celebrate your good times together and equally help each other through the bad.
  20. Go to networking events that you’re interested in. People always ask me how to improve your blog or job, and going to networking events is key. Not every event will lead to a new job or life breakthrough, but you’ll start picking up the pieces to your puzzle. And go to events where you know no one in the room. Just be brave – and remember if all the people you talk to aren’t interesting, you can leave. But you’ll probably make at least one noteworthy contact.
  21. Fewer ‘high quality’ items are better than a cart full of cheap sales. For example, buying one durable (and neutral) pair of shoes is way better than buying 5 pairs of shoes for $20 that will break after a few wears.
  22. Nothing is as good or bad as it seems. Although this is ridiculously cliché, managing your expectations will make life a little easier. If you get super-psyched for the coolest movie ever, you probably won’t enjoy it as much as you expected. But if you’re petrified of an event, you’ll get through it a lot easier than imagined. My strategy? I try to procrastinate expectations as long as possible.
  23. Try a new craft beer every time. Philly legit has enough pubs & variety that you can accomplish this easily. (And I keep track of them on Untappd!) Plus, you’ll support smaller, local breweries.
  24. Limit the chemicals in your life. In your house, in your body, in your life. You’ll feel (and be) healthier without more artificial stuff.
  25. Shop small. Support the little guys – they appreciate it more and you’ll help your community.
  26. Don’t be afraid to take the wrong train. Four years ago in Japan, my Mom accidentally guided us onto a private commuter train that was going 45 minutes past our destination. Not only did the Japanese conductor take pity and drop us off in Tokyo, but we made a long distance friend whom I still keep in touch with. Don’t be afraid to take risks – or the wrong public transit method. You may find something unexpected.
  27. Be grateful for what you have. Thanksgiving may be once a year, but remember to reflect on your fortunes. Whether it’s your health, friends, job or garden, enjoy what you have today.
  28. Dance. In the words of Lady Gaga, just dance.
  29. Try to look at someone else’s point of view. Anytime I get in a conflict, I always try to put myself in the other person’s shoes. It helps you take a step back from the situation and compromise. Even if you’re at work, school or a group, you’ll be able to work better as a team.
  30. You learn everyday. As the youngest of four children and having celebrated a family friend’s 60th yesterday, I’m sure many of the readers may smirk at a ‘life lessons’ at 30 list. There’s no way I’d claim to know it all (or even a fraction), but I continue to learn. Every. Day.

Readers, any advice at age 30 or beyond? Please share in the comments!

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Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher
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