Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work-Life Balance

30 Reasons Your Career Only Gets Better in Your 30s

Things I did in my 20s: stressed about my job, worried I was on the wrong path, and woke up in the middle of the night panicking about whether or not a mistake I made would get me fired.

Things I do in my 30s: seek learning opportunities whenever possible, enjoy my daily work, and sleep restfully knowing that I’m in the right place at the right time.

So yes, I can say that without a doubt, my career now is so much more satisfying than it was just a few years ago. Not necessarily because I figured out the right path, but because I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way that have made it so much easier.

If you’re currently in the early years of your career and panicking over your present state, fear not! Here are 30 reasons things get a whole better after you turn 30.

  1. You know yourself better. You know your strengths, you know your weaknesses, you know how to set goals, and you know how to actually reach them.
  2. You know more about what makes you happy in a job and how to sniff it out during the interview process.
  3. You’ve worked with people for a while, so you better understand your colleagues’ motivations, fears, and concerns. And you use that information to have more productive, friendly, and genuine interactions.
  4. You’ve been around long enough to have friends at your current job and industry friends from your previous positions. Networking isn’t so much a chore as it is running into people you actually like.
  5. You can drop those random college internships from your resume.
  6. You’ve mastered the art of dressing for your office—regardless of the dress code or the AC situation.
  7. You’ve learned the art of delegation.
  8. You know how to productively work from home, how to efficiently work from a plane, and how not to work when you’re sick in bed.
  9. You’ve presented enough times in front of groups that you’re not (quite as) nervous when asked to speak up.
  10. You know not to heat up fish in the microwave.
  11. Unless you want to heat up that fish, and then you go for it, because who cares if the kitchen smells for a while.
  12. You know when you’re at your most productive and when you’re not (and ideally, you plan your days around that).
  13. You have an organization system that works for you.
  14. You know how much you can drink at happy hour without showing up to work hung over.
  15. You’ve had to negotiate a time or two. It might still scare you, but not enough that you shy away from asking for what you’re worth.
  16. Unless you choose to settle for less to do work for a cause you believe in.
  17. Because you know now that money really isn’t everything.
  18. You’ve learned which dreams are realistic (being a well-known speaker in your field) and which aren’t (being discovered singing in your shower).
  19. You can find it in you to have tough conversations with your manager, your co-workers, and your subordinates.
  20. You know that being taken seriously is pretty much a given, not a remote and unfulfilled wish.
  21. You’ve conquered your imposter syndrome. Most days.
  22. You know that “no” is a complete sentence—and you use it as much as needed.
  23. You’ve become the mentor instead of the mentee. And when you give out advice, you’re not just making it up now—you actually know what you’re talking about.
  24. You know it’s a marathon, and not a sprint. So you don’t feel as guilty when you leave work a little early or don’t check your email every five minutes.
  25. You know that making small mistakes won’t lead to you getting fired.
  26. And you can receive criticism from your manager without crying.
  27. You sometimes, for whole minutes, don’t feel that you’re faking being a grown up.
  28. You’ve proven yourself enough that you’re trusted with exciting projects that really get your heart pumping.
  29. You’ve gained enough perspective to know that your career is only one part of your life—and not your entire reason for living.
  30. But it is a major part of your life, after all, so you’re always looking for a job that fulfills you in as many ways as possible.

Sounds amazing, right? Don’t worry—you’ll get there. In the meantime, enjoy the ride.

Photo of happy woman courtesy of Shutterstock.