If your 20s are a time for self-exploration, then your 30s are a time for self-establishment. Career, relationships, self-care…this is the decade when everything can finally fall in place. While we would never promote perfection (because, duh, it doesn’t exist), there are certain steps you can take to help further your own self-evolution. Thing is, there are also certain behaviors that can hold you back. So, we asked five different experts to weigh in with the habits they suggest you should break by the time you turn 35.
Relying on the money in your checking account
Savings are crucial and should grow proportionally as your career advances, notes cautions financial expert Doug Eaton. He suggests saving 15 percent of your pre-tax income. (FYI, do this before you spend money on anything else.) While it can be tempting to think of a raise as an excuse to splurge, be sure to up your savings first. “For each pay raise you receive, increase the amount of money you save. For example, if you get a five percent raise, increase your savings to 17 percent,” he says.
Apologizing for anything and everything
Look, if you mess up and genuinely owe someone an apology, then by all means, but too often the words “I’m sorry” become a go-to phrase. “When you apologize, you take the power away from yourself and the statement you’re making,” explains life coach and business expert Heather Monahan, founder of #BossInHeels, who notes that this can be a particularly detrimental habit in the workplace. Make a conscious effort to use different phrases. Bumped into someone? Try “excuse me,” instead, suggests Monahan. Late for a meeting? Thank everyone for their patience and move on. More often than not, there’s absolutely no need to apologize.
Backing away from fear
You know that saying, “Do one thing every day that scares you?” Yeah, well, it’s true. Most of the things you want in life involve at least a bit of fear. Pushing through, rather than running away, is the only way to get what you want, says Monahan. Try her M.O. and keep a journal where you can write down examples of when you overcame fear as a helpful boost when you need motivation to do something scary.
Comparing your current partner to previous ones
Those other ones are history for a reason, says relationship expert and matchmaker Susan Trombetti, CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking. “Whether it’s something you think about or blurt out during an argument, comparing your current partner to a former one just breeds resentment,” she says. If you’re unable to resist doing so, that may be a sign that you’re not over your ex, in which case it’s best to take some time to heal and fully get over him or her before moving forward in a new relationship.
Going completely bare
“Pubic hair protects the vaginal area from bacteria and STDs,” explains Lakeisha Richardson, MD, an OBGYN in Greenville, Mississippi, who notes that shaving can be especially problematic, increasing the risk of boils (gross) and scars. We understand if you’re not into sporting a full-on 1970s bush, but consider growing out more pubic hair than you normally might. It’s there for a reason.
Letting your partner make all the financial decisions
According to Fidelity, only one in eight Gen Y women consider themselves the primary decision maker when it comes to personal finance. Don't become a statistic. “Partner with your partner on all financial decisions and don’t let him or her manage the finances without your involvement,” says Eaton. This goes for both big-time stuff, think taxes (ugh) or home buying, as well as daily spending and budgeting.
Misdiagnosing your skin type
Your perceived skin type can dictate your entire skin care regime, so now’s the time to reexamine which category you think your complexion falls into. Spoiler alert: It may not be the same as it was when you were 20. “Skin evolves along with us, meaning your skin type can change over time,” explains Chicago dermatologist Jordan Carqueville, MD. And this can require some major changes in your product line-up, since those that once did the trick may now be too harsh, drying, or otherwise ineffective, she points out. Dealing with complexion confusion? See a dermatologist. On that note…
Skipping yearly skin checks
“By 35, skin checks should be a part of your annual healthcare routine,” says Dr. Carqueville. Skin cancer is no joke, and, as with most diseases, early detection can mean the difference between life or death. “Familiarize yourself with your moles and freckles so you can monitor them and alert your derm to any changes at your yearly exam,” she advises. A helpful tip: Book your annual appointment around another yearly milestone—your birthday, a fave holiday—as an added reminder to see the skin doc.
Ditching your significant other for your friends
While girls’ nights and friend dates are important and should always remain sacred, the issue arises when this interferes with the quality time spent with your significant other. “You have to carve out time for just the two of you, and it’s important to not dump him or her for your friends during this time,” says Trombetti. That means no ditching date night to go to happy hour with your girls, as well as not texting your friends when you’re with your partner.
Self-soothing with money
Or, in other words, shopping when you’re stressed or unhappy. “Don’t mistake the things you buy for happiness,” Eaton. That feel-good rush you get when buying a new pair of shoes is only temporary, and by no means a long-term solution, he says. The only thing that will last are the damaging effects this kind of behavior has on your wallet.
Skimping on sun protection
We seriously hope that you’re not frequenting tanning beds (and if you are, for the love of all that’s good in this world, please stop immediately). But not wearing sunscreen regularly is also a major no-no, says Dr. Carqueville who points out that exposure to UV rays can cause both premature signs of aging (no thank you) and, worse, skin cancer. Find a broad-spectrum formula with at least SPF 30 and apply it 365 days a year.
Self-medicating when you have a vaginal issue
Key word: think. While it may seem like a no-brainer to pick up some Monistat at the drugstore, it’s not always the right move. “Most of the time a yeast infection is actually bacterial vaginosis,” says Alyssa Dweck, MD, an OB/GYN in Mount Kisco, NY. Or, your symptoms could be those of an STI. “An incorrect self-diagnosis can cause further irritation.” Having issues? Make an appointment with your gyno stat.
Just say no. “Not only is it unnecessary, it can also be very hazardous to your internal female organs,” cautions Richardson. Ditch any kind of harsh soaps and/or scented wipes that you’re using down there, too. In order to get to the root cause of any kind of odor or discomfort, a pH balancing product is the way to go, Dr. Richardson says.
Snooping through your SO’s stuff
Whether it’s his or her phone, email, or social media accounts, snooping destroys trust. “If you’re insecure, address that issue ASAP,” advises Trombetti. “Some people develop a habit of snooping simply because they aren’t trusting, but it’s important to learn to trust until you have a reason not to.”
Not putting yourself first
Repeat after us: I come first. It’s admittedly easy to think that making yourself the priority is selfish, but not doing so can make you start to resent others, notes Monahan. Putting your needs first will make you feel empowered, powerful, and important. Plus, treat yourself better and others will treat you better too, she adds.