Simple Tips To Avoid Regrets In Your 30s

It’s really easy to let your 20s pass you by. One minute you feel like you have the whole world at your feet, the next you feel like life has passed you by.

There are some big steps that you can take that will put you way ahead of your peers in your 30s.

My early 20s were pretty playful. I set up a clothing company. i went on tour with a band. I worked in another country. I nearly ended up dropping out of uni.

I worked in some dead end retail jobs because I liked talking to people, but the pay was terrible. And then I got a “real” job where the pay was better, but there was no one to talk to.

I lived from Saturday to Saturday, going to clubs, playing ball, and playing video games.

As I hit my mid twenties, I realised that I needed to make a change. Some of my friends died very young, and I realised that they’d achieved a huge amount in their lives. What were people going to say about me when I passed on? (which hopefully won’t be for a while yet!)

As I got to my mid twenties, I started to ask myself some pretty tough questions about who I was and what I was doing with my life.

I realised that if I was going to be somewhere in five years, I was going to have to plan for it! What job would I like to have? Where would I like to be living? What was I going to look like? What did I have to fix to make that happen?

Then I started working backwards to my actions for every day. Someone said to me once “life is what happens when you’re making other plans.”

Those words hit me like a truck.

I started a big file using Evernote of things that I wanted to achieve over the next five, ten and fifteen years. Some of these, like learning new languages, were major investments of time. They weren’t just going to happen.

The same with retirement savings. You don’t just wake up one day with all the money you need to retire.

Writing these ideas down, and keeping a journal of how I was spending my time has been the biggest factor in my success.

Humans are naturally scatterbrained, and unless you make a conscious effort to capture everything, you will forget almost everything. Being able to read long texts and write cogently will set you apart from most everyone else.

I ordered my Oxford University degree certificate, years after I’d got my degree. I just didn’t find it important at the time, but it turns out that these things really do matter.

Right now I’m constantly trying to hone my video production skills. I’m still not where I want to be, but I am getting a lot better.

I’ve become insanely curious. Any time I’m unsure about something, I Google for it. I stepped outside the filter bubble of social media, and honestly I’ve never felt better about it. I have a huge advantage over those assholes sharing trite crap on Twitter.

Ready to get started?

Here are three books that taught me a huge amount:

– The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career: Reid Hoffman

– Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time

– Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion

Ready to get started?

I’m a firm believer that you need to be the best in your category. If you aren’t ever going to be the best in your category, change the category.

Wherever you are in life, you’ll benefit an enormous amount from working out what makes you different and what you can share with the world.

In my 20s, I felt like I wanted to do everything. I wanted to be a DJ, a producer, a journalist, a TV personality. What I missed out on was really honing my craft.

I did a huge amount of reading (I read a large amount of crap too!) and discovered who it was that I really wanted to be. I set about creating the truest and most authentic version of myself.

Suddenly, it all started to happen for me. I started to build a reputation for being good at what I do, and I started to accelerate away from my peers.

I also learned a lot about the importance of branding myself. Personal branding is a lot more than a flashy website or a set of business cards (sometimes a website that is too flashy can actually get in the way). Everything that you do should help communicate your specialism.

When I got my branding sorted, things started to happen. People would say to me “Kristian, I didn’t know where to place you before” but now I get what you do.

Your 20s should be a time for experimentation, but I did take too long in working out what I wanted to do with my life.

That said, even if you’re in your mid 30s or 40s now, it’s not too late. In fact, my dad, who is in his 60s, is going through this process right now.

Finally, don’t be afraid of admitting that you’ve taken a wrong turn. If things aren’t going as you’d hoped, just take a rain check. Don’t confuse the initial slog of getting things up and running with things not going as planned though.

You deserve to be happy.

And me?


That’s me aged 25 at Angkor Wat, Cambodia, one of the most awesome sights in the world and a place I’d dreamed of seeing since I was 12 years old.

What’s your dream?

Published by

Kristian Carter

Kristian Carter is a marketing technology advisor (MTV, Global Radio, Coca Cola Japan, Uniqlo, Tesco, Automic, Featurespace, MidVision), and has had work featured in The Next Web, Forbes, Huffington Post, and TechCrunch. Kristian has been called a “social media maven,” and has spoken at conferences including LikeMinds, Media140, WebTrends due to his expertise in targeting the youth market. He is a graduate of Oxford University, receiving a B.A. (Hons) in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

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