In this episode, Nicole and Marina revisited Nicole’s 30 Things To Do Before You Turn 30 Bucket List article she wrote in 2013 and talked about each point and whether or not it was worth it to do before they turned 30.
✅ 1. Travel somewhere you don’t know the language.
Going somewhere you can’t easily communicate with other people is terrifying. But not only would it enlighten you and make you savvy to another culture, it would also force you to really learn the language — something we’re rarely forced to do.
Nicole: Yes! I’ve been all over the world—to Japan, Spain, Iceland…and any time I travel someplace new where I don’t speak the language I realized have made a really big impression on me. You have to figure out how to communicate in ways that are sometimes nuanced.
Marina: Yes! Traveling in your 20s is life-changing and so important to see the world from different points of view and getting out of our comfort zones.
✅ 2. Date someone who isn’t your “type.”
You will learn and grow from being around people who are different from you. Maybe the relationship won’t work out in the end or maybe you’ll meet your future spouse. At any rate, you’ll either have a great time or a terrible time, but you will learn from the experience.
Nicole: Ironically, I wrote this when I was married (I’m still married!) so I was never going to date anyone else. But I think this applies to friendship too. It’s important to meet new people.
Marina: Definitely agree. I’m not married (have never been married) and in dating different types of people, and even meeting new people and making new friends has brought new perspectives to my life.
✅ 3. Start your 401(k).
Retirement might be a blip on the map but it will be here before you know it. Do yourself a favor and start saving now. Especially if your company offers matching. Grow money, grow! (P.S. Here’s our guide to saving for retirement in your 20s!)
Nicole: Yes ok my practical side comes out here but many people in their early 20s don’t think about retirement and it’s so important to get started now. The sooner you start the bigger your money has a chance to grow.
Marina: Double yes —I thought about retirement the most when I was unhappy in my job, and realized I had better get a safety net started so that I could have the flexibility to retire eventually. And then also I got a new job…
✅ 4. Take a risk: Go bungee jumping or skydiving or swim with sharks.
I’m talking to you non-adrenaline junkies and typical stay-at-homers. Get outside, put yourself in the hands of trained professionals, and experience that exhilarating feeling of being thisclose to staring death in the face.
Nicole: Ok, so I haven’t swum with sharks or dived out of planes, but my husband has his pilot’s license and I let him fly me around…and I’ve climbed some tall mountains! I’m not a big adrenaline seeker, though I do like adventures. So take something that feels like a risk to you, it doesn’t have to be bungee jumping!
Marina: Yeah, I’m not jumping out of any thing any time soon, but I do like to try new (safe) things and take calculated risks, like moving across the country away from family. But most importantly, we think this one should just be about getting out of your comfort zones
✅ 5. Start investing.
This is a risk in itself. Learn enough to invest some money or have someone else do it for you. No risk, no reward.
Nicole: Yes! This goes hand-in-hand with #3 in setting up your retirement funds. Investing allows you to have financial freedom.
Marina: I agree. Having some investments, though small, helped me avoid taking out loans for grad school—I also moved home to save on rent! You can start any time, have a really small investment, and watch it grow. And learn about finances in general.
✅ 6. Form your political opinion.
We live in a politically turbulent time. It’s up to us to educate ourselves and advocate for what we believe in.
Many people shy away from political discussions but by having them, you’ll come out with new, more well-rounded knowledge and, hopefully, will get to know your own opinions better.
Nicole: Yes! Your 20s are a good time to expand your mind, and register to vote! In every election you can. Things are not going to get any less turbulent any time soon, and it’s important we all understand what we believe in and how we can use our voices to support our beliefs and those who are marginalized.
Marina: Yes! No more than ever we need to educate ourselves, and learn how to communicate with one another even when we have a difference of opinion.
✅ 7. Stop holding grudges.
Past grievances are overrated. You don’t need negativity in your life and you definitely don’t need it over something that happened years ago.
If you need to, unfollow of block the involved parties on social media. Don’t “hate follow” someone just for the heck of it. A grudge only affects the person holding it.
Nicole: When you’re holding a grudge you feel wronged in some way, and holding hate in your heart only hurts you. It takes time and practice to let go. WE should focus on ourselves and now what others are doing, because other’s actions only reflect on themselves and vice versa.
Marina: I agree. I’m tired of feeling tired and I don’t want to hold grudges any more either.
✅ 8. Start a collection.
Something fun, quirky and totally you. Be passionate about it but don’t be a hoarder!
My collectable of choice is mugs. They take up a lot of space, but they are something I use daily and always bring back memories from places I’ve visited.
Nicole: My collection is Starbucks mugs and I have 160+…it’s fun! And it brings me joy to use my mugs every day. Each mug holds a memory.
Marina: My collection is llama-things, because I really love llamas, and yeah it’s just a silly thing that brings me joy and also I have memories tied up with each “llama object.”
✅ 9. Take a cross-country road trip.
Particularly if you are in the United States. You’ll get to experience many different nuances of the country and you can support local mom-and-pop businesses.
Pro-tip: avoid the highways for the best scenery.
Nicole: I’ve roadtripped from Seattle to LA and I recommend taking a trip!
Marina: I really want to go on a road trip! I love driving, and I think it would be a great way to spend time getting to know myself and enjoying seeing more of our country and the different landscapes.
✅ 10. Pay off your credit card debt.
No one wants this to begin with, but you have a chance to start off your thirties with a clean financial slate if you play your cards right (or in this case, not at all).
Debt can not only be financially devastating for building the future you dream of, but it can also be tough on your confidence.
Nicole: You’re paying your past self instead of your future self when you let your debt accrue. I paid my student debt off as quickly as I could, which took sacrifices, but I’ve never looked back because all the money I would have spent on interest paying things off I’ve spent on my future
Marina: I agree. I avoid credit card debt and make spending choices based on it—which has allowed me to make sudden changes with less panic. When I lost my job due to Covid-19 I didn’t panic as much as I thought I would because I didn’t have to worry about paying debt while looking for a new job.
✅ 11. Go see live music you love.
There’s something so special about seeing your favorite artists live. They aren’t going to be on tour forever, so buy the tickets and make the drive. You won’t regret seeing them live.
Nicole: I still love seeing live music and highly recommend it!
Marina: Agree! They don’t have to be big concerts, either, but it’s just a great way to experience the music you love and make a deep memory.
✅ 12. Set an annual reading goal.
I could bore you with the list of benefits of reading, but I won’t (but if you’re curious, we’ve got some right here). Go make yourself a Goodreads account and set yourself a reading goal to accomplish each year.
Nicole: Marina and I are huge readers! The benefits of reading are endless, and it doesn’t have to be a big number. Aim for one book read a month and I bet you’ll learn something about yourself.
Marina: Of course I agree! Another important thing about reading especially now, is a way that it helps us step away from technology and give our brains a break. And also exercise our brains in a different way, if that makes sense!
✅ 13. Overcome a fear.
Sometimes your fears hold you back, but don’t let them. Take steps to overcome your fear of public speaking or heights. Once you know you what you are capable of, anything is possible.
Nicole: I used to be afraid to be told I was bad at things, and it would affect how I approached things. Now I actively seek to challenge myself and have grown so much because of it.
Marina: Do things that you’re afraid to do—it’s how you get to know yours.f
🅇 14. Get a tattoo.
Permanence is scary, so make sure it’s something that really represents who you are at this point in your life, particularly if you’re prone to regret. Make up your mind, do your research and go for it.
Nicole: Neither of us have tattoos. This one is more about just doing what you want to do, do what makes you happy.
Marina: Yeah, I have thought about it and just never got one. I did get my ear pierced on my cartilage, though, and finally did after wanting it for 10 years.
✅ 15. Join a club.
And I don’t mean the list of resume-fluffing ones you joined in high school and college. I mean ones that you are really interested in and passionate about. For example, try and join a running club or a book club.
Maybe you’re into intramural volleyball or something else entirely. Either way it’s a fun way to meet new people and spend some time on a hobby!
Nicole: I feel like if was a part of a club I would remember…. But I am a part of a moms group that I joined last fall and that counts. It’s been great to find a place where I can talk to people who are going through similar things that I am, especially because not all of my friends have children yet.
Marina: I agree. I’m part of a book club, technically, but it’s new and very inactive. But I agree! It’s a great way to meet people, and a great way to spend time exploring more of what you love.
✅ 16. Treat yourself to something really expensive.
…and pay for it in cash. Whether it’s a trip of a lifetime, a new computer, a Chanel handbag or a weekend away at an upscale resort and spa, you totally deserve it for working hard.
If you don’t have the cash now, start saving! Make yourself a savings account called “Treat Myself” and transfer $20 a paycheck until you have enough.
Nicole: Marina and I accidentally bought friendship cars…we both bought the same car in the same month and paid for them in cash. It feels really good to be able to pay for something you really want (or need!) in cash. I bought myself a nice bag with money that I set aside every month.
Marina: Oh yeah, that was so funny when I called to tell you that I bought a car and you shouted “we just bought that car!” I saved for my car for 5 years, starting from when I levied in NYC and didn’t even need a car. And being able to pay for it and having a car of my own has given me such a sense of freedom.
✅ 17. Be the first person to apologize.
It’s hard to admit when you are wrong. But it’s usually for the greater good.
Saying “I’m sorry” is something we learn as children but don’t often implement as adults. Apologize when you’re in the wrong.
Nicole: Yes! Unless it’s an apology for the things society says women should apologize for, like taking up space. If that’s the case, don’t apologize.
Marina: I cannot stress this enough: saying you’re sorry is one of the most important pieces of communication. And if you wait for the apology you want or need, you may be waiting for a long, long time. But if you’re willing to bring up a hurt or apologize first, you’re showing the other person that you care more about the relationship than you do about winning or being right.
✅ 18. Run a marathon and start taking care of your health.
Or a triathlon or a 5k. Pushing yourself physically is not only good for your body but good for your mind. And plus, you’ll feel really awesome with your medal.
We’re capable of far more than we think we are — and this is your chance to prove it to yourself!
And even if these extreme physical fitness activities aren’t your thing, consider improving your life in other areas of wellness. For example, getting a good night’s sleep every night makes a world of difference.
Nicole: I have run .5 Marathons! I ran a half marathon, and I also gave birth which my doctor told me was the same as running one.
Marina: I have run zero. But I did train for a 5K and a 5 Mile race and the challenge was a really valuable experience where I learned I could push myself and how much I need to take care of my physical self. Now I focus on maintaining fitness.
✅ 19. Forgive yourself for mistakes.
Realizing you made a huge mistake by passing over an amazing job offer might seem like the end of the world, but it’s not.
Forgive yourself and move on. This goes along with letting go of grudges–don’t hold them against yourself.
Nicole: It goes along with holding grudges. When you’re holding past grievances against yourself it’s really hard to move forward.
Marina: Oh yeah, the most important relationship you’ll ever have is the relationship you hav with yourself.
✅ 20. Learn how to cook.
I’m not saying you should aspire to be Ina Garten; just learn how to make a few fancy dishes for one of those special occasions. They might come in handy sooner than you think.
Knowing how to make risotto is a great recipe to always have in your back pocket. It’s easy one you know the steps and can be made in any variation based on the ingredients you have on hand.
Nicole: you don’t have to be a professional chef but learning how to make a few dishes is worthwhile.
Marina: you should be able to scramble an egg, boil water, and have a go-to breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipe ready to go.
🅇 21. Eat really expensive food.
Treat yourself (and maybe your significant other) to a meal at one of the world’s top restaurants. Find out what all of the fuss is about and indulge in food made by someone who invented the cooking method.
Nicole: If you don’t have a palate for the culinary arts, then you’re not going to care as much. Maybe it should be more about trying new foods, trying new restaurants, etc.
Marina: I’d rather have a really good street taco for $3 than a “delicacy” that’s high brow…and I love food and love trying new things!
✅ 22. Pay it forward.
Ever had someone help you out when you didn’t ask for it? Even if you haven’t, you can still start a chain of positive events by paying for someone’s coffee or helping them change a flat tire. Positive momentum is a powerful thing, people!
Nicole: Yeah, it’s not something you do once to check off the list. It’s something we should all embrace on a consistent basis.
Marina: Definitely. I once rescued a kitten and when I returned her to her owner the woman tried to pay me and I refused. Not to be a martyr, but because I thought about my own pets and how I’d want someone to return my missing pet even if I couldn’t pay. I’d prefer they pay it forward.
🅇 23. Attempt to break a world record.
In the Guinness Book of World Records, of course. There are records for everything, so round up your friends and give it your best shot. Even if you don’t quite break a record, it’s still a pretty cool memory to have.
Nicole: It’s not for me. Do it if you want, but I didn’t end up wanting to do this.
Marina: Same. I’m not a rule breaker let along a record breaker.
🅇 24. Attend the Olympic Games.
Whether it’s Winter or Summer, you’ll never regret being in the presence of the world’s elite athletes and having the opportunity to watch history in the making.
NIcole: I’ll be 31 at the next olympic games so I missed my opportunity…but if you have a favorite sports team you should go see a game!
Marina: I agree.
✅ 25. Pick a cause and be passionate about it.
Whether it’s cancer research or clean water, donate and make efforts to help others and advance your cause.
Don’t just say you’re interested in a cause, go live it and be it — volunteer your time, fundraise or donate. Change doesn’t happen by sitting at home on your couch.
Nicole: I still agree. Any way you can help serve something is beneficial.
Marina: Yes, any time you can do something that lights you up is important.
✅ 26. Make your family tree.
There is no history more interesting than your own–figure out who your ancestors were and how they impacted the world and your own life. What you find out might surprise you.
Take it a step further and record your family’s complete medical history. This will not only come in handy for you, but for future generations are well.
🅇: My husband has been working on this throughout our 20s. I think it’s really interesting to know about your ancestors.
🅇: I agree, my grandparents set up a family tree decades ago that we add to and I find it has give me a wider perspective of where I come from.
✅ 27. See a Broadway play.
Or a Cirque show or Blue Man Group. Put on your best dress or your tux and live it up.
Nicole: It doesn’t have to be a broadway play specifically, but go see a live show.
Marina: Yeah, make memories. Go see something different than your norm on a Saturday night. It’s another way to expand your horizon, even if you only ever do it once.
✅ 28. Work a menial job.
A job where you know you won’t advance but also requires tipping. You’ll gain a better appreciation for people you come across in your future who count tips as the largest part of their salary.
If this doesn’t fit into your career plan, try picking up a second job around the holidays — you’ll appreciate the extra income and you’ll gain some eye-opening experience for those who work for minimum wage full time.
Nicole: As you get older, I think it’s easier to forget what it’s like to be in that position.
Marina: I agree. I worked in customer service for three years when I was in my early twenties and I still think back to my time and how I was treated by customers and it has directly impacted how I behave towards others.
✅ 29. Become a connoisseur in something.
Whether it’s cheese, wine, tea or coffee, your garnered knowledge will always help you make small talk but also enrich your life in ways you haven’t even imagined.
Nicole: Maybe not a connoisseur but do your research!
Marina: Yes! Turn your brain on!
✅ 30. And finally, make a list of 40 Things to do Before You Turn 40.
If only because it’s fun!
Nicole: Stay tuned!
Marina: We won’t know for another ten years so keep checking back…
What’s on your bucket list? Let us know in the comments below.