Advice for My 30-Year-Old Self

If your 20s are a time of working hard and discovering yourself, your 30s are a time of building good habits for the rest of your life. Here’s my advice to my 30-year-old self.

Now that I’m 40, there are a few things I’d like to say to myself 10 years ago.

So now your 20s are behind you. You worked hard, but I think you could have worked harder. You’re 30, still pretty new to being married, and you’re a brand new daddy. There’s whole new set of challenges ahead of you in this new decade. Unfortunately time travel is not possible, so you didn’t get the message I tried to send you when you were 20 and you won’t get this one, either. But if I could tell you something, here’s what I want you to do in your 30s, building on my last message to 20-year-old me.

  1. Keep your marriage healthy and go out on dates as often as possible. Visit your marriage and family therapist as a couple as regularly as possible. Talk about child-rearing techniques. (Spoiler alert: in 10 years you’ll discover you’re both right. You just have to make it work, and keep each other in check.)
  2. Learn about autism. You’ll have a son on the autism spectrum and you need to understand what it is. Read all the books. Go to all the lectures. Understand him. Be patient.
  3. If you must get a credit card, pay it off as quickly as possible. Better yet, don’t get a credit card. Here’s where you regret not saving that 10% when you were in your 20s. And in 10 years you’ll wish you had saved for 20 years!
  4. When work slows down at your job, it’s time start looking elsewhere. It’s usually a sign the company is having trouble filling the pipeline and your job is in jeopardy.
  5. So build that side-hustle like it’s your job. Because it will sustain you when things grind to a halt at the day job and they have to let you go.
  6. If a job feels like a bad match, it probably is. Trust your gut.
  7. Upgrade to the best gear possible as soon as possible. I mentioned this to my 20-year-old self, and he wanted to hold on to his money. The point isn’t to get stuff because it’s new and shiny, but to stay ahead of the game. It’s not about the tool in itself, but having the most effective tool for the job. It’s worth the investment. Keep the software and hardware current, buy paints, brushes, canvas, cameras.
  8. Upgrade your hearing aids sooner. Don’t wait until they are so old they can’t be repaired anymore.
  9. Ignore Sunk Costs. It’s scary to walk away from what you’ve spent years on but resist moving on from, such as a house or a job, but it will hurt more if you don’t.
  10. Get an iPhone as quickly as possible. They’re expensive and aren’t on your network yet (Verizon), but you’ll need it at least as soon as Instagram comes out, so you can start sharing your work there. Besides, you’ll need to test mobile websites.
  11. Price is positioning. You want people to take your work seriously. Price your art high enough to pay for itself and to buy more supplies. Make the work pay for itself and then make it pay you.
  12. Fix up your house as much as you can afford it, as soon as you can. It’ll make selling easier and you’ll enjoy the house more. Nobody wants to live in a dump!
  13. Listen to the voice telling you to make art. God put that craving in your heart for a reason. Make art and share it. Get in the studio daily even if the work isn’t great. Share the art and build that email list!
  14. Take a vacation once in a while. Don’t wait 8 or 9 years to go to the beach.
  15. Make some friends. This is really hard in your 30s. I’m 40 now and don’t really have close friends, and I wish I did. I have lots of acquaintances, though.

I sure hope 30-year-old Brad would take this to heart more than 20-year-old Brad.

If you’re in your 40s or 50s or older, what would you say to yourself at 30 or even 40?