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There are plenty of things they’ll tell you you should have done by the time you’re 30, or skills you should have picked up. But what about the life lessons you should have learned? Get a head start with our 30 suggestions…

You’re Only Here Once

It may be the biggest cliché, but it’s oh-so-true. You didn’t exist for billions of years and soon enough you won’t exist for billions of more years. So are you really going to get worked up over stuff that simply doesn’t matter?

Lose Your Self Consciousness

Because the hard truth is that people are not thinking about you, what you’ve done, what you think or how you look anywhere near as much as you think they are.

Just Do The Best You Can

Whatever it is that you do. Winning isn’t everything – but you always win if you’re satisfied that you put in the best performance you could. You set your own standards.

Develop A Signature Style


Find a style that works for you, because not all trends will. Being recognised as well dressed comes more through dedication to a look than it does rushing to look in line with the latest fads.

Don’t Be So Judgemental

Particularly of other people, because they have their own struggles. They’re just trying to deal with the same kinds of crap as you. They don’t mean to be assholes.

Stop Chasing Money And Status

Because these really are modern society’s greatest blind alleys. You’ll never have enough of either, even though neither will bring you tranquillity.

Think For Yourself

About the big topics of the day, rather than just accepting received wisdom. Get sceptical. People who tell you what you should think nearly always have a hidden agenda.

Enjoy Your Body

Its power, its grace, its sheer miracle of evolutionary engineering, because it’s a machine that soon enough starts to go haywire. Move, dance, jump around.

Time Is A Finite Resource

If you could see your lifespan ticking down, second by second, you wouldn’t waste it so flagrantly. Fill it as much as possible doing stuff that matters to you.

Give Up Yesterday

It’s over. It’s written into history and you can change nothing about it. So don’t dwell on it. But by the same token….

Don’t Obsess Over Tomorrow

Because anything could happen between now and then. Life may seem mundane in many ways, but it’s often more twisty than one expects.

Buy Property


Any property, just as soon as you can, even if it means some form of fractional ownership. There’s no point leaving money in the bank these days.

Accept That You Don’t Know Sh*t

And never will. Nobody, but nobody, has life sorted. It’s a work in progress until, well, there’s no more progress. Keep at it and keep learning.

You Have No Control

Over many things in life. So forget about these. Save your effort for those things you do have control over, even if it’s only some control.

Say ‘No’ More Often

Sure, saying ‘yes’ to everything may mean you get to try things you may not otherwise get to, but there’s also time to decline. Nobody will be offended if you choose not to take part, thanks all the same.

Make It Personal

Because people listen when you express yourself from the heart. Write letters, not emails. Do things in person. Open up – if you feel it, speak it.

Be Ready To Go Your Own Way

The job-mortgage-marriage-kids routine works well for an awful lot of people. But other routines are available. You don’t have to keep your wheels on the rails provided.

Be More Active Than Passive

The most truly rewarding things you can do typically require the most effort. Take the longer road. Practice your craft. Read books. Make stuff. Don’t just absorb – project.

Luck Matters

It’s a major factor in life. You can’t deflect the bad kind, and – despite what the self-help gurus say – you can’t make the good kind. Everybody is where they are not as a result of their own amazingness or stupidity but in large part because of simple good, or bad, fortune.

Keep Being A Big Kid

There isn’t a time to put away childish things, as Shakespeare reckoned. If model boats or skateboarding or comics or collecting rocks was your thing, and it still is, go for it. Play more.

Let Yourself Be Awestruck Every Day

Take time to understand the sciences and you can’t help have your mind blown just by the sheer facts of things, not least the fact that you’re here at all.

Take Five Everyday To Imagine

Not having the things you have – be that your health, partner, your evening meal or your favourite sneakers, whatever. You’ll appreciate them a lot more after. You may even want more stuff a little less too.

Get A Life Philosophy

Sooner rather than later. A career is a paltry measure of a lifetime. Dig deeper. By what standards do you want to live? At the end, how do you want to look back on the way you were part of the world?

Commit To Someone

The single life is fun, of course it is. Up to a point. But we’re built to be in a committed relationship. Sometimes that’s really very hard work – but the rewards are commensurate to that effort.

Manners Maketh The Man

Or, at least, they ease your way through the world. Be thankful. Make eye contact. Hold open doors. Shake hands (again). Speak less and listen more. Treat everyone as your equal.

Swerve Social Media

Social media, on balance, is bad for you. It’s mostly PR and bolshy opinions. It’s the ultimate time suck, and mentally de-stabilising. Just because everyone else seems to be on it, doesn’t mean you need to be.

Be Part Of Your Community

Because, really, no man is an island. Not even a peninsular. The people around you matter, and that includes perfect strangers.

Hone Your Skills

Learn to cook, for example, not to impress but to sustain yourself. Understand money. Repair what’s broken if you can. In other words, get self-sufficient.

Know Your Mind

Literally, because it’s playing all sorts of tricks on you all the time. Understanding why you think and behave the way you do is the first step to avoiding the traps.

Think Cosmically, Man

I know you’re important to you, but the truth is you’re a speck on a planet that’s a speck in a galaxy that’s one speck among countless specks across the endlessness of time and space. Let that fact take the pressure off.