20 Goals Every Twenty-Something Should Reach Before Turning 30

Turning 30 is a lofty milestone for many young adults. The BIG 3-0 marks a significant change for millennials as they transition from wandering twenty-somethings to (hopefully) established adults. This metamorphosis doesn’t happen overnight, however.

It’s a gradual development that slowly occurs in phases of growth. Although we all may feel like adults in our early twenties, the truth is most of us won’t have it all figured out until our early thirties, at best. Our twenty-something years contain a hodgepodge of experimentation, trial-and-error, and mistakes. We learn many important lessons and set a variety of goals for ourselves along the way. In truth, our twenties—a defining decade—set us up for our future, established self.

In planning for becoming a thirty-something someday there are several important goals everyone should accomplish. Some of these goals are a bit straightforward, while others will require deep discovery within our very souls. It takes time, patience, and belief in yourself to truly achieve these objectives.

Here are 20 goals every twenty-something should reach before turning 30:

1. Travel. 

If you have an opportunity to travel during your twenties, jump on it! There’s no greater experience than a chance to see the world through a unique, different lens.

Traveling brings culture to your life and opens your mind and soul to a new reality. If you travel overseas, a foreign vacation or semester abroad really is divine. You’re bound to return home with new ways of thinking and a taste of cultural optimism.

2. Establish a 401K or retirement fund. 

Thinking about your retirement account in your early twenties likely seems silly. Why should we worry about something that’s decades away? Newsflash: the earlier you begin saving, the more money you’ll have when you do retire.

Research retirement options. 401K and 403B accounts will deduct a percentage of your income early on and tuck it safely away into your account. Additionally, if your company contributes to your retirement funds they’ll match up to a certain percentage. Consider how rapidly an account will grow with 3% of your income and 3% of your company’s contribution. Your financial future will begin to look brighter!

3. Master the art of cooking.

Up until now you’ve probably only dabbled in cooking. To an extent, all twenty-somethings have. We are accustomed to heating up Ramon noodles and sticking a greasy grilled cheese sandwich together in our dorms. After you move out of college and you parents’ home, however, the need to cook becomes very real.

Before you turn 30 you should be comfortable following recipes and making dinner from scratch. No, this dinner should not come in the form of a cardboard box or takeout container. Learn how to cook pasta dishes from scratch, grilled chicken, and steamed veggies.

There’s something to be said about the nostalgia of a home-cooked meal. You don’t have to be a sous chef to master the art of cooking. Simply obtain basic recipes and tweak to your liking.

4. Understand your body and health. 

Understanding your body before you turn 30 is critical. You should actually learn about your health long before that, but we’ll cut you some slack! Your health should be among the most—if not the most—important things in your life. Without strong health, your body will be incapable of doing anything.

You need to know the warning sides of poor health and be certain you’re taking proper care of yourself. Monitor your body regularly. Be positive you know the difference between serious cramps versus common aches and pains. Don’t allow an area of noticeable pain or discomfort go unchecked for too long. This is the only body you have. Be good to it.

5. Create a monthly financial budget. 

Every adult human being is responsible for their respective budgets. It’s good, practical sense to know the difference between your earnings and expenditures.

Calculate your monthly income (after taxes) and subtract your monthly bills to be certain you’re able to make payments. Invoices for utilities, rent, car insurance, phone, etc. do add up fast. Be certain you’re staying on top of your spending and sticking to the budget you create for yourself.

FREE Download: How To Create A Budget That Works With Your Lifestyle

6. Live on your own. 

Living on your own is an exciting experience all in itself! There’s so much to look forward to, such as decorating your own home, basking in independence, and learning to care for yourself without help from your parents or roommates.

If possible, live alone for a chapter during your twenties. You should be comfortable living independently before bunking with friends or moving in with a significant other. When you live alone you truly understand who you are and the life you want to lead.

7. Apply for a credit card. 

While many people think of credit cards as a boatload of debt and the forever enemy, credit cards can actually be a very positive addition to your life.

Apply for a credit card during your twenties. If you can, limit your use of the card to filling up your gas tank or buying groceries, exclusively. Use your credit card in controlled transactions and pay off your balance as soon as it posts to your account. Even with small, controlled purchases you are building credit.

Get The Guide: How To Build Good Credit: Credit Building Basics

By borrowing money and paying it off quickly credit bureaus will see you are a responsible borrower, making it easier for you to apply for a home or car loan someday. Plus, paying off your credit card quickly eliminates the risk of being stuck with high interest rates.

Build your credit slowly, and remember to only use your card to purchase items you are confident you can quickly pay off!

8. Have at least one relationship. 

You should make it your personal mission to have an adult relationship during your twenties. Don’t date someone at random, but definitely dip your toes in the dating pool when you have the chance.

Dating in your twenties is a constant source of experience. You learn the ins and outs of cohabitation, meshing different interests, resolving conflict, and discovering your desires. Even when a solid adult relationship comes to an end, through heartbreak many twenty-somethings find themselves.

You’ll learn that perhaps you need to be with someone who loves to travel, or maybe you need a person who’s very affectionate. Dating in your twenties will help you discover the type of person you ultimately want to marry, if that’s important to you.

9. Graduate college or continue your education in some way.

Not everyone has the opportunity to finish a degree in their twenties, but if you do make it your priority. Going back to school later in life is not impossible by any means, but it is more of a challenge for many. Balancing work, family, stress, money, AND college can be too much for some adults.

If college isn’t the right path for you, there are many other ways to continue your education outside of school. Learning platforms like Skillshare, Coursera, and Udemy offer many beneficial classes and learning opportunities.

10. Know how to take proper care of your vehicle.

It’s critical to know the basic anatomy of your vehicle. Whether you’re driving a beat up car, monstrous truck, or energy-efficient smart car, be certain you have the key parts locked in your mind.

You’ll want to know how to change a tire in an emergency, just as much as you’ll need to know the first steps to take if your car is overheating or if you’ve been in an accident.

Read your vehicle’s manual, brush up on the parts under the hood, and remember to do the simple things like regular oil changes, filter replacements, and putting the right gasoline in your engine.

11. Create an emergency fund. 

Of the many financial goals every adult should make, creating an emergency fund is on the top of the list. You never know what’s going to happen.

Life is unpredictable, and as such you may find yourself in a financial rut. Whether your car breaks down and needs some TLC, or you get laid off at work and can’t pay your bills, you’ll be hurting if you don’t have a cash stash somewhere.

Start with a goal of saving three month’s worth of your expenses. If you can afford to set aside more, by all means please do. Hopefully you’ll never need to use it, but it’s best just in case.

Must-Read: Adulting and Money: Building Your Emergency Fund & Preparing For Your Financial Future

12. Read more. 

It seems that many twenty-somethings read less and less as they migrate away from their college studies. When is the last time you read a book? If it’s been awhile, remedy that ASAP!

Reading is essential. The act itself is leisurely and relaxing. Books bring culture, wisdom, and experience to our lives in a way that’s different from music or film. Not only is reading incredibly healthy for you, but it’s also beneficial.

The more you read, the more you’ll know. It’s a form of growth unlike anything else.

Bucket List: 30 Things To Do Before 30

13. Learn to say “no.” 

Too many of us say yes to absolutely everything we are offered: jobs, dates, commitments, and the list goes on and on. There’s no real reason why we say yes to doing things we may not want to other than making another person happy. Why do we burden ourselves with this nonsense? Stop it! Before turning 30 you should learn to say no.

Turn down job offers that don’t fit your scope of practice. Deny commitments you can’t fulfill. Learn the value of saying no when it’s what you truly need to say. It’s important to learn to answer honestly.

14. Discover your morals, beliefs, and desires in life. 

You are in control of what you believe in, your morals, and the things in life you desire. Don’t be shy to take a risk in discovering these parts of who you are. There is no right way to live, therefore you must choose the path that is best for you. When it comes to religion, milestones, goals, and beliefs you need to lean on yourself and be confident in your position. It’s your life. Live it honestly.

15. Determine who your real friends are. 

By the time you turn 30 you should have a strong handle of who your true friends are. If you don’t, it’s wise to figure that out before your twenties slip away.

Don’t waste your time staying in one-sided relationships where you always give and others take. Learn to put your foot down and rid of toxic relationships when necessary. Life is far too short to surround yourself with negativity or fake friendships. Banish those you can do without and make room for the genuine people who truly love and respect you.

16. Schedule health visits regularly. 

As far as health goals go, by your 30th birthday you should be well versed in visiting your PCP and dentist regularly. Don’t skip your physical or dental cleanings because you think everything is fine.

Unless you work in the field, chances are your medical opinion is as useful as the Internet. Be smart and visit your primary care for routine check ups.

17. Learn that happiness comes from within. 

Happiness is one of the most important facets of life. However, being happy must come from within. We can’t expect other people, pets, objects, or things to make us happy. We have to learn to be happy all on our own.

By the time you turn 30, let’s hope you believe this to be as true as it is. Learn to be happy with YOU. The rest will follow.

Age 30 is a huge turning point for most adults -- you're no longer under the naivety of your 20s. Hit these goals by your 30th birthday.

18. Capture moments in photographs. 

Millennials nowadays photograph everything. From dinner last night to apple picking over the weekend, twenty-somethings are posting photos on their social media accounts and blogs regularly. If you do this, excellent! If you don’t, it’s best to start.

Photographs—even if not shared publicly—are treasures. It’s wise to capture as many moments over the years as you can.

19. Accept and love yourself. 

Love from others feels so good. We cherish the way our significant others love us just as much as we value the love we receive from relatives and friends. No love, however, is greater than the love you have for yourself. By the time you turn 30 you should absolutely adore yourself.

You made it through the sticky teen years and troubling, wandering twenties. By 30, you’re more familiar with who you are and should love the person you’ve become over the years. Accepting and loving yourself is the key to success and happiness in life. Don’t forget how far a little self-love goes!

20. Set more goals. 

By the end of your twenties you will have achieved a handful of goals (hopefully these ones).

When your 30th birthday rolls around you should plan on making more. We accomplish goals so we can set new ones. That’s the beautiful cycle of goal-setting. When you’ve reached your short-term and long-term goals, don’t forget to create new things to work toward. We’re always growing; always moving forward.

Here are some of our goal ideas:


Goal-setting is a frivolous task, yet is essential to growth and development. We must push ourselves to be our best selves.

These are twenty goals every twenty-something should achieve by the time they turn 30. Here at GenTwenty we encourage you to work toward these goals so you can be your best self!