30 Before 30

I’m actually kind of excited about turning 30… but even still I was thinking about how much happens in your twenties. I don’t think I fully realized just how defining the decade is until I was well into the latter half of it. It’s only when I looked back on everything that happened since turning 20 did I realize just how important, and relevant, every decision and choice I made was for where I ended up today.

Anyway, when I turned 29, I started building a mental list of a few things I wanted to do before I turned 30. Some were totally fun (like doing karaoke), some were to push myself outside of my comfort zone (like going to a concert… I know, I know), and some were dreams I had (like buying a house). The list started to grow and I eventually transferred it from my head to my iPhone. As I was typing another one, I thought it’d be fun to put together a solid thirty things I wanted to do before I turned 30.

I’m nearly two weeks out from my birthday, so the clock is ticking to get everything done. I actually know, for sure, I won’t be able to do everything… It’s doing more than two things every month, which isn’t totally realistic. I joked that I should have made the list when I turned 20 if I had any hope of finishing the whole thing. But it’s still fun to write it all down as an exercise… and who knows. Hopefully it’ll inspire some fun this year!

Carly Heitlinger

1. Do Karaoke // I did this a week after my birthday!!! I wanted to bowl and do karaoke and we did both. It was even better than I imagined it would be. The whole group agreed that it was such a fun night; we want to do it more!

2. Travel to a new country // I thought I was going to Greece next week, but the trip fell through last minute. I need to plan a trip to somewhere new!

3. Go to a concert // This sounds so lame, I know, but concerts don’t really appeal to me, but maybe I’d actually enjoy it now that I’m an adult. I’ve only been to two real concerts: Back Street Boys in fifth grade and High School Musical (lolol).

4. A weekend without a phone // I’ve done post-free weekends, but I haven’t done a full one without my phone completely!

5. Run a 5k // I hate running, like, hate it hate it. Except, running 5k races I’ve determined is actually a lot of fun. Something about the energy of being surrounded by tons of other people! Makes it so much easier. I think we’re going to do the Turkey Trot as a family again!

6. Take a dance class // I still need to do this. It was one of my goals for the year, so I’m lumping it in here. I definitely want to take a tap class and now I’m kind of thinking I want to do hip hop!

7. Buy a house! // This is not something I’m going to force if it doesn’t happen, but I am itching for a house. I already hit my savings goal for a down payment, so it’s really just down to finding a perfect house now. It’s been fun though!

8. Go on a family vacation // We haven’t been on a proper family vacation in a few years. The four of us are going to have to work some magic to coordinate schedules to make it happen.

9. Road trip somewhere // This is kind of an open-ended one. I love to drive and think it’s an easy and fun way to get from Point A to Point B as long as you’re patient and have a good list of podcasts and audiobooks to go through.

10. Consider skiing a black diamond (oh god) // Please note, I put “consider” up there. I don’t know if I’d actually be able to do it…. but I want to give it a try. I swear my palms get clammy just thinking about it!

11. Take a photography class // I have been practicing photography quite a bit lately and I took a few online courses through Skillshare. I’d love to do an in-person class or workshop.

12. Send a letter to a friend every month // I love the idea of sending a little snail mail just because.

13. Take golf lessons // My friends and I have been dying to do this! We’re also going to try to do tennis lessons together too, but I definitely want to get back into golf. I golfed in middle school and my freshman year but gave it up when I joined the crew team. (Fun fact, I had a “golfchick2oo8” AIM screenname, haha.

14. Do a DEEP (deep) closet cleanout // I did a pretty good cleanout when I moved earlier this year, but I know I could do a better job. I need to channel my inner Marie Kondo and go for it.

15. See two Broadway shows // I LOVE Broadway and despite living 20 minutes away from Times Square, I don’t go to see shows nearly as often as I could or want to.

16. Read three “classic” books // I always struggle with classics. I love reading and usually get bored reading them. (I know, I’m the worst, but it’s the truth.) Would love recommendations of your all-time FAVES.

17. Make an appointment w/ professional makeup artist for makeup tips/lesson // I’ve gotten so much better about my makeup routine, but I do the same thing every single day. Would love to sit down with a professional and get personalized advice!

18. Learn and nail a signature dish // I can follow a recipe no problem, but I’d love to have a go-to “signature” dish. Whether it’s a meal, appetizer, or side.

19. Scan all family photos into digital files // This has been on my “to do” list. Might just be my Thanksgiving project. (Or I might be lazy and just send the photos away to a service where they do it for me.)

20. Finish writing my book // I need to just commit to getting it done. I made a lot of progress this summer. I started scheduling time on my calendar just to write and that’s definitely helping me as I’m finding time for it versus keeping it on the backburner to “do tomorrow.”

21. Learn another recipe from my grandma // Would love to sit down with my grandma and have her teach me another one of her recipes.

22. Be on the Today Show // This has been a goal of mine for as long as I can remember…. THIS HAS GOT TO BE THE YEAR.

23. Go to a comedy show in NYC // Maybe I’ve been watching too much Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, but I want to do this!

24. Splurge on something for my 10-year anniversary // I already know this is happening… it’s just a matter of deciding what to do!

25. Visit Martha’s Vineyard // I love love love Nantucket, but have yet to venture over to the Vineyard. Going to make it happen this year.

26. Go on a meditation/yoga retreat // I would love to find a quick weekend retreat for yoga or meditation. Meditation has become such a giant part of my life and it’d be nice to explore it even more.

27. Bake a perfect soufflé! // After going to Eleven Madison Park for dinner this summer, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of mastering a soufflé.

28. Grand Canyon with Stacy // Stacy and I both agreed to put this on the list. We’re dying to visit the Grand Canyon and can’t believe we haven’t gone.

29. Fly first class somewhere // I’ve been upgraded a couple of times, but it’s never been on a long flight. I’d love to splurge on first class at some point for a fun adventure!

30. Buy a piece of art // I want to start collecting more art pieces and supporting artists whose work I love.

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Robyn Puglia

I loved reading this list!! I was SUPER excited to turn 30. It was such a fun milestone to hit, and the 30s are wonderful for a female. Now I’m 38 and the 30s go SO FAST. Way faster than the 20s did. So if you’re thinking about a 40 before 40 I would start working on them before you turn 31. Not even joking.

I highly highly highly recommend The Count of Monte Cristo. I am also not a fan of classics, but this is one of my top three books of all time. It’s so exciting and it grabs you right from the beginning.


My art history professor JUST recommended The Count of Monte Cristo to our class this morning! So crazy, she also said she physically couldn’t put it down


Hi Carly!!

First of all, I can’t start this comment without fangirling over your blog… I LOVE IT!!

This are my favorite type of posts, the ones that you share more about yourself. You really had inspired me to do new things (like reading, I know I know… but it’s never too late) and make better choices on my shopping game haha!

The thing is that I couldn’t help myself to recommend you a new artist when you said you want a piece of art so if you want to check out my best friend work here it is,

Hope you like it!


P.S. english it’s not my native language, sorry if my comment it’s not very well written.

Nicola Adam

Come to Vancouver and you can go up to Whistler for a ski trip it’s got some great black diamonds! That would be a rather long cross country drive though! Also I’m sure this has been suggested a million times for the classic book but Pride and Prejudice is one of my all time favourites! Also loved The Great Gatsby!


I’m turning 25 this year and kind of like omg HOW am I already 25!! When I was younger that seemed like such an old age! Your posts help me look forward to getting older. Also I second the Canada rec! Last summer my boyfriend and I went to Banff and Vancouver and it was amazing.

Allie N

Love the idea of this list! You’ve inspired me to start one. Can’t wait to see what adventures you go on this next year!


You’re writing a book!? That’s so exciting! How long have you been working on it? Is it fiction or non-fiction?


I’m with Robyn re: The Count of Monte Cristo. It’s one of my all time favourite books. It’s long, but it’s a fantastic story. Shorter classics I’ve loved include The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald), The Glimpses of the Moon (Edith Wharton), literally anything by Jane Austen or Shakespeare, Vanity Fair (Thackeray), and Dracula (Stoker). Full disclosure: I’m doing my PhD in English literature right now, so hit me up if you have an idea of what kind of classics might appeal and I’d be happy to recommend more tailored to your tastes!


Count of Monte Cristo is one of my favorite books! I’ve read it twice and downloaded the audiobook on my phone too!


Right? It’s SO good. You might also like either Little Dorrit or Our Mutual Friend, then (both by Dickens). They’re both similarly sweeping and complicated in scope and plot, and the last couple hundred pages just race towards the conclusion!

Lindsay McCarthy

If you find a service to send your family photos to and have them digitized will you please share?! My mom just sold our childhood home and one of the things taking up storage is all our photos! I’d love to do it for her for Christmas or her birthday this year! If you want MV tips i used to summer there during college and have TONS of insider info. We are heading there for a last trip before baby this year (even fun in the off-season). Good luck crossing everything off your list!


I love your list, Carly! I’m turning 27 in a couple months and you’ve inspired me to write my own. I’m with you on classic books- I really have to force myself to read them. But one that I really enjoyed was Frankenstein- it’s not too long and has an interesting premise.



I did a similar list before I turned 30 and it was so helpful! It also made me run a half marathon which I NEVER thought I’d do! Some additional thoughts: 1. Let’s do the photography class together!! 2. I’ll go to Martha’s Vineyard with you! 3. my Friend Kasey is a makeup artist and we should see if we can sit down with him! I’ve always wanted to pick his brain!


This has been so lovely to read! I wrote a 30 before 30 list years and years ago (when I was 22) and reading this made me revisit it… and wow priorities change! I’ve decided to give my list and update because of you 🙂

Jessica from What To Style

This bucket list is absolutely great, and similar to mine, however “buying a house” is on the top of my list, and also, I haven’t been to a real concert ever but there are 2 concerts that I would love to go someday (soon, I hope).

Have you ever been to Rio de Janeiro? I suggest you visiting Buzios and Petropolis. Incredible places for sure! ❤

Jessica | |
Instagram @ what_to_style


Hey Carly! Love this list! 2 suggestions that might be helpful: 1) Basically (@basically) is one of the Bon Appetit sites and they’re doing a 10×10 campaign where they share 1 recipe a week for 10 weeks that’s supposed to be the best way to make Super simple, key dishes. Could help with finding your signature dish! 2) For a comedy show, highly recommend the venue Caveat. Their whole thing is “intelligent nightlife” – lots of hilarious shows that are smart. My favorite was a monthly improv musical called “Your Love Our Musical”.

Anyway, hope that helps! This inspired me to make a list of my own!


Carly you can transfer chase points to get first class tickets to Hawaii for 45k points each on delta! I did that last year and it was amazing! The seats on the Hawaii flights go all the way flat like an international flight. I found out how to do it from the blog The Points Guy. He also has tips for doing it for Europe and other destinations.

Jess Zimlich

I’m a sucker for a list and love this one! I’ve got a master bucket list of sorts (my 101 in 1001 list) and then I do seasonal bucket lists to keep me in check and make sure that I’m making the most of the months ahead! Love that you played golf. I played growing up and in high school and just started getting into it again – so fun!


For reading classics, definitely recommend Around the World in 80 Days!! I just read that one and it was the first I read as an adult that I actually wanted to keep reading…and not just finish it because I felt like I “had to”!


This is great! I read somewhere a long time ago that writing down your goals makes you more likely to accomplish them, especially if you put them somewhere easily visible. Good luck!


This is such a fun idea, Carly! Thanks for sharing. Writing a book is a life goal of mine and I think scheduling time into your schedule to write is definitely the way to go because you’re right, it just becomes a “do tomorrow” task!

I’d recommend Anna Karenina for a classic read! I read it for the first time this summer and loved it. The character development and depth is incredible. It’s kind of hefty and not the easiest of reads, but so worth it!


What an inspiring list! I love that you made it, even if you can’t get to it all this year. My favorites are write a letter to someone once a month and digitalizing family photos. The photos are a project, but it would be so worth it in the long run.


I turned 29 a month ago and I’ve been working on my own list to stretch myself before I turn 30 next year. This gave me so many good ideas! I too know I won’t finish everything but it’s nice to set goals and aim high, right?


I love these lists, more so since I turn 40 in a few weeks. If I can make a suggestion about the skiing a black diamond, try doing it at a smaller hill. Black Diamonds are all relative. The Black Diamonds at Mt. Tremblant are much harder and steeper thank anything I have skied in Ontario. So try a smaller local hill and I bet you can do it no problem and then work your way up to trying them at harder ski hills. You are going to love your 30s! I know I did.


1. pride and prejudice
2. Sherlock Holmes: hound of the Baskervilles
3. Anna Karenina (if you’re feeling brave lol!)

Best signature dish that’s also suuuuuper easy: David Rocco’s spaghetti al limone. I’ve made it for most of my friends and they’ve all immediately added it to their regular rotation. It’s life changing.


Hey Carly! Good luck with your list- a lot of these classes and services are definitely available around hoboken (and of course NYC!) look up busy bee organics – she hosts yoga
Retreats with all organic cooking and such- worth looking into!


Pick the snowiest, fluffiest day to try your black diamond -it’s the most forgiving! Also practice getting comfortable “side-slipping” on your skis: if you can be comfortable doing that, you can side-slip down particularly steep/scary pitches until you feel comfortable enough to make another turn. Or take a lesson and let the instructor know you want to tackle a black diamond and they will prep you for it and pick the best one to start on! Every ski hill has some blackruns that are easier than others.

Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

Happy early birthday! Ooh I really like the idea of writing monthly letters to friends. I think I’ll give that a try too ^-^ Since graduating, I’ve really come to value making an effort to keep in touch, whereas before, my attitude was more like, I’ll see ya when I see ya. Writing one letter a month isn’t too much to ask, and I like that since it’s snail mail, there isn’t a rushed urgency. You can really take your time to think, and also appreciate the other person’s thoughts. -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s


Hey! Have you ever considered traveling to Hungary? Budapest is supposed to be really beautiful and full of cool things to see. (My in-laws recommend Prague, in the Czech Republic?) Also, in terms of Classic lit, do you mean, like Dickens and Austen? Because my favourite ‘Classic’ is The Great Gatsby. One thing I actually love is to re-read it, then watch Baz Lurhman’s Gatsby movie, because I think it’s really stunning. I hope you have a wonderful birthday!


Such a fun idea! In terms of classics, I loved reading classics in school, but have a hard time on my own. I’ve found there are some great online resources (reading guides, online book clubs, etc.) that have helped me get more out of reading them on my own. Hope that helps!


I enjoyed reading this post. Such a great idea! I’m turning 30 in October, so maybe a 40 before 40 List? I agree with you that I’m looking forward to turning 30. For me, it’s going to be based on watching my little family (4mo and 19mo) experience their “firsts.”


I love this list and often make similar lists for myself. I am totally curious about what you are writing a book about and would love to hear more! I’ve also (shockingly) never been to the Grand Canyon and would like to make a trip in the near future.

Anna Kay Cope

This is an awesome list – will definitely be using this as a guide for my 30 before 30! (And selfishly I’d love to see a post on golf – I’m terrible at it but want to take lessons so I can play with my husband!)
Have you read Jane Eyre? I read it almost every year; it isn’t a dull classic at all! I also just read Dracula for the first time and couldn’t put it down! Might be a good October read. 🙂


Classics: Jane Eyre, Little Women, and the first two Anne of Green Gables.

And while it is technically a children’s book, the unabridged version of Wind in the Willows. It is a beautiful and funny story of friendship. And if you do take the time to look for it, get a pristine vintage one with the beautiful illustrations from Arthur Rackham then sock it away for future children.

Kaytlyn Kirksey

Hey love, I just discovered your blog and LOVE what you wrote your 30 before 30 on.
I just took the leap and decided to give blogging my full attention after what seems like forever contemplating and procrastinating, and your vids were a huge part in me feeling confident in being able to do that.
Keep up the great content, you’ve got a new reader here 🙂


Hi Carly! I am also making an effort to read more classics and books with real substance. I am using two lists- All Time 100 from Time magazine and PBS’ Great American Read. I am committing to at least trying the books. If I hate them and am not enjoying I won’t force myself to keep reading. But these lists are a good jumping off point.

Nicole Wickholm

I love this idea! I want to make one now! I’m just starting out in my early 20s so maybe I’ll have some more time! I also had no idea you were writing a book! I cannot wait to read it! 🙂

Nicole Wren

I absolutely love your list of goals for before you turn 30! I’m an old soul, so I do the letter writing thing quite often. I used to be a lot better, but I just got a box of cards from target, keep my friends addresses on my phone and stamps in my wallet, and send then send them whenever I have time to write down an encouraging note to them or just a hello!

I can’t wait to hear what Broadway shows you go to! Aladdin and Anastasia are coming to town next year, and I definitely plan on seeing them! Dear Evan Hansen is also on my list of things to do!

Also, can’t wait to see what you write! Are you thinking a memoir? Fiction? Biography?


Look up Lonely Planets best leaf peeping road trip!! It’s all around New England and would be perfect for you! I think it can even be done in 3-5 days. Also, Rosamund Pike narrated both Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility on Audible. Both I have relistened to multiple times because she is so good. That knocks off your classics!


Great list! I made a 30 before 30 and gave myself about 2-3 years to complete it. I got through most of it but missed s few items. I’m now 33 and did almost all of the items! It’s s great way to force yourself out of your comfort zone. And now that I’m well into my 30s I was just writing up a 40 before 40 list, ahhh

Eshan Vishwakarma

I loved your list. One of them really stood out to me. “Be on the today show.” I performed on the Today Show with Jason Mraz on the Citi Concert Series. Its a really cool list.


Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is like dabbling in the classics, but still very much a drama/mystery/romance. I actually read it in high school for a book report, and convinced all my friends to read it since then!


I highly recommend East of Eden by John Steinbeck. It was in Oprah’s book club forever ago, not sure it’s technically a classic but its a great read and feels more challenging than normal current fiction. Other great books of note are Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Dr. Zhivago and the Tempest is easy if you want a Shakespeare play. This is so fun, good luck!


My favorite classics:

Jane Eyre
Les Miserables (crazy long though)
The Scarlet Letter
Till We Have Faces
Peter Pan
A Wrinkle in Time (the whole trilogy)

Don’t be too hard on yourself…Audible totally counts. As do children’s books.


Have you ever read a ‘Classic’ that you do like? Are you being rather liberal with the classification of ‘Classic’, too? If so, anything by Oscar Wilde is a treat – I read The Picture of Dorian Gray in a day.

Personal Favorites that aren’t a drag to get through:
Madame Bovary
Anna Karenina (kinda a drag actually but good!!!)
Northanger Abbey
Alice in Wonderland is a treat to actually read because of all the word play
and my personal favorite of Jane Eyre.


Awesome list, Carly! Have you read Anne of Green Gables? Definitely would recommend! 🙂 Happy early Birthday!!

Kayla Michelle Pelletier

My signature dish is Martha Stewart’s Mac and cheese and it is MY FAVORITE food!! Always requested by friends and family! I will also shamelessly plug my uncles Russell Moch’s art!! He’s out of Palm Springs and does gorgeous landscapes, but I love his beach/ nautical scenes


Hi Carly!
I really love articles by women who speak fondly about growing older. A part of me is frightened to turn 30 because it is or it was a supposed crossroads in our lives (or maybe I’ve just watched too much Sex & the city, haha!). Another part of me is excited because our twenties are often filled with so much uncertainty, insecurity and (often negative) change.

Becky H

This is a great list! I have been working through my “35 Before 35,” but quite a few of them aren’t really concrete things I can cross off, they’re more like lifestyle aspects to strive for (i.e. spend more time with family, adopt/maintain healthier eating habits, etc.). But either way, I’ve been tracking progress toward these goals, and even if I don’t hit each of them, I’ll be in a better place in 3 more years!



I have been following you for a while but never commented before. I really like what you do. I’m 35 so a little bit older than you and love your perspective on life. I agree that the 20’s are the foundation of many things in life and by the 30’s you start to see the results, good or bad.

I’m the little one at my house, and by now I’ve lost all my grandparents and my father. I will tell this to you: prioritize your family activities plus your life as a couple. Everything else you can do whenever. Additionally a will give you an advice make your signature dish one of your grandmas recipes. I have done this and is the best, I actually stole one of my grandma recipes book from you mother. Nothing is more delicious than that. Everything you say is doable you just got to get your calendar out and start planning.

All the best

Kim from 3 peanuts

This is a GREAT list! My suggestion is to write it down with paper and pen though. There is a great book called “Write it down, make it happen” and there is loads of research showing that physically writing it makes it so much more likely to happen than a digital list. I use this with my clients all the time. I cannot wait to see you do all of these! It could easily spill into your early 30’s:)


Hi Carly!

I’ve been reading your blog for probably the last 8 years or so, but this is my first time commenting! I love this post–I also made a set of goals before turning 30 next year (the big one was starting medical school, which I did in August at the ripe old age of 29!). I also started taking tap dance two years ago because I have always wanted to learn and it is truly one of the best things I have every done! Tap dance is the incredible!! Enjoy!


Literature teacher, here!

Classics can be a huge bore (looking at you – Frankenstein), but I recommend Pride and Prejudice and The Great Gatsby.

Both are more contemporary than what you might be thinking of, but they fit the bill and are fairly quick reads.

Fortune Dushey

Happy Birthday!
What a fabulous list!
There are so many things on this list I’d also like to do i.e. road trip, visit Martha’s Vineyard, make an appointment with professional make up artist and read 3 classic books. One of my favorites is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.


I have limited patience when it comes to classics as well, but when I moved to London something about the grey skies and hot cuppa tea in my hands helped me get through a couple! A Farewell to Arms was the first that had me wrapped up, and then Kafka’s Amerika!

A Girl, A Style

I did this list before I turned 30, and although I definitely didn’t complete it, it was so much fun to try and it gave me a nudge to do some things I definitely wouldn’t have otherwise (I went to a festival, which was SO not me but I actually had a great time).

Good luck!!

Briony xx


Hi Carly! I feel like you’ve probably read this one (maybe?) but a classic that I love to read in the Fall will forever be Jane Eyre! It’s the perfect gothic, moody, autumnal read. And then, in a very similar vein, there’s Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Also a gothic classic, but less old. I go back to both every few years. Enjoy!

Abi Fritz

This was so amazing Carly, I watched your YouTube video first and then ventured over to the blog post. I feel like you can conquer all of these! Keep us updated


My favorite classic is Vanity Fair! I’m also really enjoying Maggie Gyllenhaal’s reading of Anna Kerenina on Audible!


Nice post. Actually, I was browsing around about childhood memories blog and I saw this blog post. I looked back on my age a few years ago after I read this post.


You could have accomplished #4 this weekend when your phone mysteriously and dramatically shut down! How are you tracking against these goals btw? Would be great content for the next blog post!