Remember these when you hit the big 3-0!
When we’re in our 20s, we don’t think much about setting ourselves up for middle age and old age. We sleep with our makeup on. We party with hedonistic abandon because we’re young and living in the moment.
Our 40s, 50s and beyond are in the distant future, and we have time to think about all that boring grown-up stuff. Lots of time. Plenty.
When we hit our 30s, middle age is still pretty far up the road, but by now we’ve started to realize time passes by pretty damn quick and sometimes quicker than we want it to.
I’m not suggesting any millennial stop living in the moment and become excessively worried about what’s going to happen when you’re over the proverbial hill, but as someone who is standing on top of that hill looking at both sides...
Well, I feel I’m qualified to hand out some good advice to my thirty-something sisters that will make life easier when they get to be my age.
1. Stop smoking.
Even if you’re that "I don’t smoke but I mooch off my friend’s pack when I’m drinking" kind of smoker, stop. Smoking makes your hair smell bad and turns your teeth yellow. It can decrease bone density, interfere with your reproductive health, send you into early menopause, and cause wrinkles. There is nothing sexy or cool about smoking. If you do it, quit. And if you don’t smoke, don’t start.
2. Start taking care of your skin.
If you’re in your thirties and haven’t established some sort of skincare routine, what are you waiting for? You don’t have to drop a bunch of cash on fancy skin creams made of bee guts and crushed tropical flowers, but wash your face and moisturize with something that’s designed for your age and skin type.
Use sunscreen and don’t fake bake. Ever. That savage tan might look hot now but too much sun will prematurely age your skin. Trust me, thirty-somethings, life isn’t over at 50 and you still want to look good. And by good, I mean not like a raisin.
Also, many dermatologists recommend starting facial injections earlier rather than later. I’m not advocating that everyone run out and get Botox at the first sign of frown lines, but researching the preventative medicine aspects of injectables may be worth your time.
3. Watch your weight.
If you’re carrying around extra pounds in your 30s, don’t put off weight loss. Your metabolism slows as you get older. You might be one of the unlucky ones who wakes up one day in your late 30s and finds your metabolism has come to a screeching halt, and that you gain ten pounds just from being in the same room with cheese.
There’s a line between accepting your body and being healthy. I’m not talking about caving to societal pressure to be fashion model skinny, and some weight gain is normal as you age. If you want to lose weight or if your doctor is suggesting you drop pounds for health reasons, now is the time.
4. Develop good exercise habits.
This goes along with number 3, but developing good exercise habits is about more than keeping your weight down. Being physically fit can stave off depression, reduce the impact of chronic illness and disease, and keep you flexible and mobile as you age. And guess what else is better if you’re fit and flexible? Sex.
Although at twenty-something you might think the idea of older people getting it on is gross, you won’t think it’s gross when you’re on this side of the hill. Trust me on this one.
5. Take care of your sexual health.
Whether you’re trying to get pregnant or trying not to get pregnant, your 30s are the time to make sure your lady cave is in good working order. This goes beyond making sure you’re responsible and careful, but of course that, too.
If you’re using birth control, find one that suits your age and lifestyle. Using the pill just because you’ve always used the pill? It might be time to talk to your doctor about something different.
Make sure you’re getting things checked out down there on a regular basis. Sometimes hidden infections can impede your fertility or be dangerous (or at the very least bothersome) if left untreated.
Many people say sex gets better in your thirties, but there is a lot to be said for sex beyond your thirties. Make sure you’re staying on top of your checkups to keep that equipment in good working order, and this goes for guys, too.
6. Nurture your friendships.
You might have a smaller social circle as you enter your 30s. Maybe you’re investing time in your career or becoming a parent. Maybe you’re trying to juggle both of those things. Whatever is going on, odds are that you’re not spending as much time with your friends.
Growing up (and growing older) might mean a smaller group of friends or hanging out less frequently, and that’s OK. But make sure you don’t neglect your besties. Other forces in your life are going to pull you in different directions, but you will want and need those good friends as you age.
7. Make self-care a priority.
Self-care can mean a lot of different things. It can mean treating yourself to expensive lingerie. It can mean a long coffee and catch up session with a good friend (see number 7).
It can mean taking a mental health day or saying "no" when you just can’t handle another thing on your plate. It can mean journaling, knitting, drawing, baking, getting a massage... whatever gives you pleasure. Start carving out time now for self-care, thirty-somethings. This is a damn good habit to carry into your middle and older years. You are worth it.
8. Get your finances in shape.
Stop living from paycheck to pay check. Get smart on retirement plans and investments. Start an emergency fund. If you have sucky credit or are in debt up to your eyeballs, talk to a professional.
9. Learn to love your own company.
Or at least be able to function on your own. Have you ever taken a vacation by yourself? Eaten dinner in a restaurant alone?
This isn't about being self-sufficient, although that's important, too. It's about being comfortable with yourself and not relying on another human for all of your stimulation or entertainment. And no, I didn't mean that kind of stimulation, although that certainly goes along with the concept of loving your own company!
You may outlive a partner or find yourself suddenly single as an older adult. And no, being confident enough to enjoy a trip to the movie theater sans partner doesn't take away the grief of losing someone, but being able to manage by yourself (and maybe even liking it) will help you in the long run, even if you're a people person.
10. Give less f*cks.
While what other people say and think will probably matter less as you get older, start consciously living your life to work toward your goals and to make yourself happy. Yes, there will always be other people’s needs to consider, and no, giving less f*cks doesn’t mean adopting "f*ck you" as your mantra, but there’s no better time than now to put an end to making your decisions based on what someone else might think or say.
If you haven’t figured it out, these nine things have something in common: setting your future-older-self up for success. People are living longer, healthier and more pleasurable lives.
Maybe it’s time to take inventory and make a few little changes that will make your life better as you get older.