Starting Over in Your 30s

When I was 30 years old, I was almost $40,000 in debt, I was in a miserable relationship, and I felt trapped in a corporate job.

I used to get to my office early every morning before anyone else arrived and just stare out the window, thinking to myself, ‘Is this it?’

In short, I felt trapped by my mediocre life. 
And so did everyone else around me. 

It seemed like all my 30-year-old friends were in a similar situation. They all had real jobs. Some had mortgages. Some were married, and a few even had kids. But nobody seemed excited about life anymore.

All my friends complained about being tired or busy at work, and nobody wanted to go out or do anything exciting anymore.

I knew that there had to be more to life than that. 

I didn’t want to just live an average life like most of the people I knew. I wanted to experience excitement, new adventures, and something different.

The Pain of the Same

Most people by the age of 30 have become pretty set in their ways. They might have been dating the same person for a while. They have been in their job or career for a few years. They might have been living in the same city for a long time. Their life experience is starting to become limited. 

They probably had some crazy adventures earlier in life, maybe during college or university, but now everything feels kind of routine and boring.

I know that the most painful thing for me in my early 30s was that life was boring. Everything felt the same. I had nothing to look forward to beyond maybe a vacation once a year or a new TV show or video game session on the weekend. 

As the pain of doing the same thing all the time got worse, I realized that I needed a big change. Living the same life all the way through my 30s was scarier than taking risks and making changes.

Of course, I had a lot of fear of failure, of what other people might think of me, and of whether I would lose the mediocre level of comfort and success I’d created. 

But still, the pain of staying the same was greater than any fear or risk I would face.

Starting Over At 30 Is Possible

In this article, I want to share the six different ways that I started over in my 30s. 

It wasn’t an overnight transformation, but from the age of 30 to 40 years old, I managed to completely transform who I was into someone I was excited to be. 

I got myself out of debt, managed to build a totally new career, met a lot of new amazing people, and completely transformed myself and my life. I removed the negative emotion of feeling like a failure from my life.

Today at age 44, I am proud of myself for the person I have become, and a lot of it started at the age of 30. I’m not sharing this to brag, but to show that it is possible to start over in your 30s and create a life that you enjoy.

Here are six things that I did to start over in my 30s, and I would encourage you to try them if you feel stuck, bored, or unhappy.

1. Change Your Environment

By far, the biggest and best change I made was to move to another country at the age of 32. It wasn’t an overnight decision, and it took me almost two years to get everything set up, but I decided I had to go for it. 

In April 2010, I moved from Sydney, Australia, to Orange County, California. I risked my job, sold most of the things I owned, and moved with almost no guarantee of success. 

But within about three weeks of moving, I knew it was the right choice. 

Everything around me was new and exciting. I knew almost nobody, and nobody knew me. I had to build a new life, a new home, and a new routine entirely from scratch.

Your environment is not fixed. You choose where you live. Even if you can’t move country, you can move city, suburb, or neighborhood for a fresh start. 

Changing up your environment a little can give you a sense of personal control and freshness. You get to reinvent your daily routine, and you’ll feel more alive as a result.

Don’t think just because something is comfortable that it is good for you. If you are 100% happy with where you live, then maybe you can at least do some travel several times a year to get a fresh perspective from the time away. 

When people ask me what was the biggest thing that helped me turn my life around and start over in my 30s, by far, it was changing my environment. 

2. Improve Your Skills

In my mid-30s, I decided to face my fear of public speaking. I was working as a consultant and trainer and sometimes I had to host meetings and present in front of groups. Every time I did, I was terrified. But I knew that even though I was full of fear, it was something that I could get better at. 

At age 34, I decided to join a local Toastmasters group and improve my public speaking skills. During the first few meetings, I was so nervous that I almost didn’t go back. But slowly, I started to feel some progress. Within six months, I was actually beginning to feel competent, and my self-confidence grew as a result.

What I didn’t realize was that learning this new skill of public speaking would have a significant impact on my identity and career. I started to see myself as someone who faced his fears and took control of himself.

Public speaking is a highly transferable skill and eventually led me to realize my dream job was to become a professional speaker. 

Of course, you don’t need to learn to speak in public, but I am sure there are skills you can learn or get better at that will give you a new sense of confidence. Even if they don’t lead you on a new career path, they will provide you with a fresh perspective on who you are. 

3. Change Your Physical Image

One of the ways we can feel like we are out of control in our lives is to stop taking care of our physical appearance. Especially in your 30s, it’s super easy to start to let your standards slip, either with your fitness, grooming, or dress style.

When we’re younger, it’s easy to stay in shape, but it gets harder as we get older. It can also feel pointless to stay up-to-date with fashion or to keep a nice style when you are always with the same people who know you well.

When I became single again in my mid-30s, I started to pay more attention to my health, my dress sense, and my style. I did this because I wanted to be attractive, but the unexpected benefit was that I felt different in myself. 

I started small with a 30-minute morning walk each day and eventually started going to the gym and doing yoga classes. I also got some tips and advice from people who had better fashion sense than me and upgraded my personal and professional wardrobe.

As a result, something amazing happened. For the first time in maybe ten years, I actually liked how I looked in photos, and I had more confidence in my interactions with people. Most of all, I felt like something was different about me. I had a sense of control and choice in my personal image, and it made a difference in who I was as a person. 

4. Start a New Hobby

One of the mistakes we often make when we are in our 30s is thinking that we are not able to do things just for fun anymore.

A lot of people think that after 30 years old life is about work and responsibilities and that any enjoyment you might have is a bonus.

I believe that your 30s are a perfect time to experiment with new passions, interests, and hobbies. Whether it’s something you do for professional development or it’s a silly, fun, frivolous thing, it’s still worth doing.

The benefit of starting a new hobby at 30 is that you have the time and money to try new things. Whether it’s a class or college degree, learning an instrument, trying meditation, or learning some other physical or soft skills, everything you do adds variety and newness to your life.

To me, there is nothing more invigorating than feeling like I have discovered something new that I don’t know how to do yet. It signals that it might be the start of a new hobby that can add variety to my daily life.

5. Expand Your Social Group

There is a famous saying by motivational speaker Charlie Jones “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

No part of your life is more influential on your happiness than the people you spend time with. If you have a social group that is bored, unmotivated, and stagnant, then you will be the same.

One of the very best things you can do to start over in your 30s is to meet new people who live a different life from you. 

The benefit of moving to a new environment and starting new hobbies is that you can meet new people (and let go of some of the older ones). Very often, these people will help you settle in and feel welcome. And most importantly, they will give you a fresh perspective on your life.

6. Take a Risk

The final way that I learned to turn my life around was to take more risks. It sounds simple, but if you have gotten out of the habit of taking risks, then you might find your life shrinking as a result.

It’s a curious thing that as we age, we naturally become more cautious and risk-averse. Maybe it’s because we think we have more to lose, and perhaps it’s because other people don’t seem to take as many risks either. 

Taking risks, whether big or small, makes us get out of our comfort zone. Whether it’s learning something new, making new friends, going on a date, changing our image, or changing careers, all these actions have an element of risk involved.

Will you sometimes fail when you take risks? Yes, of course. But at the very least, you tried, and you had an interesting experience and likely gained a valuable lesson. And you grew your comfort zone and evolved your identity. 

Whatever you have in your life today requires some element of risk. And to have something new, or better, you have to keep risking.

Your 30s Are For Living

Trust me; I know how it feels to be miserable, bored, and powerless in your 30s. 

It might feel like there is nothing more to look forward to than another 35 years in your current job or trying to build your retirement savings. 

While it’s important to keep building your quality of life, I think too much focus on stability or maintaining the status quo is what stops you from enjoying your life in the present moment.

Being a successful person means living a life that is varied, exciting, challenging, and evolving. It means finding ways to reinvent yourself even if they don’t fit in with the cultural or community norms you are surrounded by.

Your 30s are the perfect time to begin a new life. All it takes is being open to the possibility and seeing that who you are now is not who you have to be. 

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