personal brand logoMatt McCarley
  • Front-end developer
  • UX designer
  • Wannabe CS nerd

For employment opportunities, potential collaboration, or just to connect—email me at

March 20, 2019

Tomorrow, I Turn 30

Today was the last day of my 20s. Tomorrow, I turn 30. This is what I want for my 30s.

1. Wake the hell up

Things are getting real. I have three spectacular kids, an amazing wife, a beautiful home, and the beginnings of what I hope to be an excellent career. Almost every element of my life is more than I could have hoped for at the outset of my 20s. Yet, often, the trance of “not-enough” still clouds my vision.

I still trudge ahead through my life like a man on a mission. Next goal, next task, next milestone, etc. I want to finally stop. I want to relax. My life isn’t going anywhere. I don’t need to chase it. I can slow down and try wake the hell up before I miss my life chasing after what’s next.

2. Be more open

I was probably in my 20s before I ever ordered something that wasn’t off the dollar menu. I spent most of my 20s trying to outgrow the poverty mindset that I somehow adopted as a kid. I had to actually learn how to enjoy a vacation. I had to learn how to enjoy buying something nice for myself or my family. I had to learn how to not freak out if the monthly budget got busted by an emergency.

I want to keep growing in this area. I place so many limits on myself. I still have lingering feelings that a guy like me from the town I grew up in just can’t do certain things. I wonder how a homeschool kid with a GED could ever compete against the elite professionals that studied at household-name universities.

There are so many experiences I want for my kids and my family, but I need to stop putting artificial limits on us. I have no idea where the next ten years will take my family and I, but I know I want to be open to anything and everything that is possible. I want to stop with the premature “no”, and learn to default to “yes.”

3. Help others grow

So much of my 20s was spent trying to figure out what I wanted to, “do with my life.” I was a teacher for a few years, I worked in recruiting and sales, I pushed papers for the state government, and finally I discovered my love and interest for programming and web development.

After a couple years working as a developer, and growing tremendously in a short period of time, I’m realizing that I have things to offer. It may not be much, or at least there are others with much more to offer, but I have something. I don’t want to spend my 30s building my own castles. I want to help others build their castles. I want to help others grow, not just as developers, but as people. I want to find a way to connect my love for web development with my love for education and mentoring others.

4. Have some fun

I can be such a boring guy. Its not hard for me to work 9 hours and then come home and study for 3 more, and then read a textbook until I fall asleep. Thank god I am married and have kids that prevent me from doing this. Every night when I get home from work I’m forced to enter my children’s world—a world where building a magnet-tile building that can touch the ceiling is the most important thing on the evening’s agenda.

Just tonight, coming home, I naturally had the pull to get some studying in. Luckily, I had a birthday party to take my preschool-age daughter to. So, instead of my boring plans, I got to watch my daughter play arcade games for the first time, and teach her how to mini golf.

Just like I had to learn how to not be a cheap-ass, and enjoy spending money, I want to learn how to enjoy my time. I know how to work. I know how to study. I know how to ‘make progress’. In my 30s, I want to know how to have fun. I need to rediscover what I enjoy doing, and not just spend all my time doing ‘productive’ things.

I have so much to be grateful for as I sit here on the last day of my 20s. Chiefly, I’m thankful that I can sit here so filled with optimism and excitement for my 30s.