30 Things I Learned Turning 30



I’m sitting here in my apartment drinking a cup one of my favourite teas reflecting on my twenties and what I’ve learned up until now.

I originally intended this to be a journal entry but decided that insights and ideas should be shared. Why? Because so many of the things that I’ve learned came from great conversations, or things I read or an inspiring video. So I tasked myself with writing a list of 30 things I learned before turning 30 with a time limit of 30 minutes. This list is not meant to be a guideline or advice for anyone. Think of it more as some personal anecdotes that I’ve gathered over the years on the topics of creativity, business, friends, family, love, personal development, spirituality and community. Some of these thoughts are cheesy. Others are common among any basic book on personal development. 

Keep in mind, this is a completely unedited, spontaneous list.

  1. Elizabeth Gilbert inspired me with her take on creativity being this flowing force in the universe, first from her book “Eat, Pray, Love” and then with her subsequent TED Talks and future book “Big Magic”
  2. One of the greatest gifts you can ever give yourself is to invest in your creativity
  3. Creativity rarely comes when summoned but often shows up when you least expect it
  4. Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” changed my life as well as many others. Read it, over and over again to refine your creative muscles
  5. Creativity is less about output and more about process. I believe it’s more about how you feel rather than what you accomplished through the process
  6. Two of my favourite projects “The Pinstriped Suit” and “Chong Tea Co” were started on a whim, primarily because I wanted a creative outlet outside of my 9-5.
  7. Learning to paint and create beautiful visual art, was an incredible journey and my favourite sessions were usually between 11pm-1am while drinking a glass of wine and listening to Portishead
  8. Living a creative life is one of the single most enriching elements of life
  9. There is risk in every decision, big or small. Worry less about making the “right” decision and instead focus on making the decision the right one.
  10. The most successful business people I know are sharp as a whip, have the emotional intelligence of Daniel Goleman, and are as pragmatic as an accountant.
  11. Every job gives you skills you can take even if it doesn’t seem like it
  12. Chemistry with bosses, managers, and leadership are essential to your success.
  13. Building a career is incredibly important in your twenties and thirties. I spent a huge part of my energy on this in my twenties and will continue on in my thirties. The one thing to keep in mind is that it’s a means to an end and only one part of your life.
  14. Read books. Lot’s of them. If you say you don’t have time, sign up for Audible and listen to audio books at the gym or on your commute to work
  15. Watch a TED Talk every morning. It will change your life
  16. Create 30-day challenges for yourself. What you can accomplish in this short period of time can help be a building block to your larger goals
  17. A few close friends are more meaningful than a thousand acquaintances
  18. Heart to Hearts or H2H conversations with your friends are incredible and you will learn so much about yourself through them.
  19. Friends who stop you from ordering a round of shots at 2am are worth keeping.
  20. Dance parties are essential in life, even past your thirties.
  21. Although you may be far away from your family, it’s important to talk to them every week.
  22. Moving to a new city by myself taught me that you never know who you can meet on a new adventure
  23. Surround yourself with people who give you energy, inspire you, and see the world through optimistic lenses
  24. Distance yourself from friends who bring negativity, anxious feelings, drama or stress on a regular basis.
  25. It’s not worth being sad over dating someone who doesn’t want to be with you.
  26. It’s important to date a lot to know more about who you are and what works for you in a relationships
  27. Spending time by yourself, regardless if you are an extrovert (I am) is essential. The mental space and clarity you’ll get is amazing.
  28. Brene Brown’s TED Talks and Books are like a crash course in life, relationships, and how to deal with failure
  29. A regular Meditation, Mindfulness and Yoga practice have been the cornerstone of my life. I am so grateful to have done my first Vipassana meditation retreat at 18. Thank you to all of my spiritual friends who are constant reminders of how diligence, self compassion, and mindfulness really do make everything better.
  30. One of my biggest regrets is not travelling enough in my twenties. I’m going to set an intention to make this a big priority in my thirties.
  31. Bonus: A daily gratitude practice is so helpful for remembering all the good things you have in your life. On my darkest days, my journals filled with daily gratitude lists helped me see how much I had to be grateful for

Wow, this list of 30 things I learned went quick! I still have so many ideas and lessons to add to this list. Seeing as my 30 minute alarm just went off, I’m going to save the rest of the list for another post.

Have a fantastic day! I know I will!



  1. Hi Matt, glad I saw your post to start my day. Going to try your TED talk tip and now you are top of mind. I launched and project on a whim and since you like H2H talks you are going to appreciate the principal. Have you considered creating a podcast? CastItForward.org is a quick and easy way to experiment with the medium and to feel good doing it. The movement needs someone to kick off a chain in Toronto. Have a look. Who comes to mind for you as a person that you would feel great acknowledging and profiling? Trevor CastItForward.org

    1. Hey Trevor, Thanks for posting on the blog. Apologies for the very long delay in response. I’ve been taking a break from writing and focusing on other projects. That being said, i’m going to come back to posting some new content soon. If you are still interesting in chatting at castitforward.org, feel free to reaching out at matt@chongtea.co.

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