You’ve made it through your wild 20s and are settling into your career. You’re taking things more seriously now, thinking about the future, and wanting to make the best decisions. As you carefully plan each step, it’s important to consider ways to avoid career mistakes in your 30s. These three tips are valuable guides to set yourself up for success.

Know Your Worth

This perhaps is the most important tip. Far too many women are underpaid and aren’t doing anything about it. At this stage in the game, you have experience and you’ve gained the skills required to succeed. And yet, you’re still accepting a lower salary than you’re worth. Why? For many women, it’s a lack of confidence and not truly understanding your value. You accept less because you don’t believe you deserve more.

Take inventory of your past accomplishments, any awards or certifications you’ve received, and write down your strongest skill sets. Read over this list until you have it memorized and don’t be afraid to show it off a little. Use it as back up when you discuss a pay raise with your boss (which you should definitely do).

Make a Financial Plan and Align Your Career with it

Most people allow their current employment situation to dictate their financial plan. Living pay check to pay check is a reality for the majority of people, but it doesn’t have to be. Shift your mindset and decide to make a financial plan, then align your career with that plan. It will take hard work, determination, and you’ll need to not only know your worth, but demand your worth.

If you want to be making $100,000 a year, you can’t do it sitting where you are right now, doing the same old thing. Whatever your financial goal is, ask yourself what changes you need to make in order to see it through. Then, one thing at a time, start moving in that direction. Maybe it means going after a promotion or asking for a raise. Or maybe it means finally going after that dream job you’ve always wanted. Whatever it is, now is the time to make a plan and go after it.

Find a Work-Life Balance that Works for You

There’s a lot of talk about work-life balance – whether or not it’s possible, how to use integration instead of balance, and which way is the right way. Some people set strict boundaries on their work and have a definite separation of work and home life. Others allow the two more freedom to intermingle and overlap. And of course, many people fall somewhere in between.

As you become established in your career, it’s important to find a lifestyle that suits you. If you don’t, things will constantly feel out of balance and eventually you will burn out. The best thing you can do is keep trying new things until you find what works best for you. This will allow you to be the very best version of yourself, both at work and at home.

As you navigate your career, know that your 30s are an amazing time to really go after what you want. You’re becoming more comfortable in your own skin and more established in life. Use this time to embrace your worth, lay out challenging goals, and cultivate a lifestyle that makes you happy. Trust that you have what it takes and know the steps you take now will lead to future success.

Feature photo: Andrew Neel/Unsplash

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  1. Know your worth is SO IMPORTANT by this point! I’ve gone up to management salaries and back down to grad ones, but I take the grad role because I know there’s a lot to learn here – however, that doesn’t mean that in my freelance life I don’t charge every penny I’m worth! It’s taken a long, LONG, time to get that confidence, though. Thanks so much for the article!

  2. Yes, I absolutely did NOT advocate enough for myself in my 20s, but by my 30s had gotten better. I had an excellent work environment and bosses that I genuinely respected (and felt respected by), so that certainly helped!

  3. @ArianMarshall Definitely by our 30s we are more comfortable in our abilities and contributions in the workforce. It is so important to be our #1 advocate.

  4. Great tips for an ambitious young women like myself! If I’ve learned anything from the strong women who are paving the way ahead of me, it is to know your worth and if necessary, demand that it is recognized (with facts to back it up). At 24, I’m in my very first “adult” job now (coming up on 1 year) and having had my job responsibilities changed and added to a little bit in recent months, I am already preparing what I will say when I ask for a raise at my evaluation (above the standard raise I am sure I would have been offered just for staying 1 year)

  5. @Katherine Yes! So glad you are following these tips now in your 20s so that by the time you are in your 30s, you will be already far ahead of the game. Seems like you have it together. Keep notes of your accomplishments and successful projects along the way so you will be prepared once you negotiate your next level of worth! You’re rocking it! Good luck!

  6. Knowing your worth and work life balance has been key for me. Without those, you’d be quite miserable. I was for a long time.

  7. @LaShell Absolutely! So important through every stage of your career. Hope you have found your happy place of balance now.


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