10 Things You Need to Do to Make Your 20’s Count
With Twitter-trending hash tags like ‘#adultolescent’ and the media encouraging an image of twenty something’s spending the ten years after surviving puberty congratulating themselves with endless parties, living on a diet of 2-minute noodles and coffee, it’s no wonder we find ourselves feeling lost and confused when we hit the ‘party’ decade and realize that there’s still so much work to be done!
We’ve been taught to spend this time throwing caution to the wind, leaving us to assume that when we’re twenty nine everything will suddenly fall into place so we can settle down to a happy family and a successful career in our thirties. Being lulled into a false sense of security, coupled with the feeling that we’ve acquired super powers and are in fact invincible, has led us to believe that we have all the time in the world to decide what to do with our lives.
The reality, however, is very different. You need to remember that when stepping out onto the precipice of your twenties, every decision you make will guarantee that when you jump into your thirties, you’ll either fall or fly.
In case you need a parachute, here are ten ways you can make sure your twenties count.
1. Build your Own Corporate Ladder
We all need to make money and, while it’s okay to start out with a temp job that was not necessarily what you told your teacher you wanted to be when you grew up, it‘s not okay to settle for something that is not going to move you closer to your goals.
In the real world, doing things we don’t want to is inevitable, but if you’re sticking with a job because it’s comfortable or you’re too lazy to look for a new one… check yourself. No-one wants to be a forty year old waiter (although it is honest and good work). Take the initiative; don’t spend your life as a drone working to make someone else’s dream come true!
2. You Can (and will) Pick your Family
As you’re wading your way through your twenties, you’re likely to test the waters. Dating is a good way to learn about who you like and who you don’t. There are plenty of fish in the sea; just make sure you’re not holding onto one that’s not particularly to your taste, just to show you’ve caught something.
The people you date now are the relationships that will shape your marriage. Meg Jay, author of ‘Defining Decade: Why your Twenties Matter’ says, ‘The best time to work on your marriage is before you have one.’ Be intentional with love and make conscious decisions about what you want.
3. Family Matters
Don’t forget about who got you to where you are today. She’s the lady that patiently put you to sleep at night and he’s the guy that got you through college. With all the excitement of being an adult, it’s easy to forget family, but Mom and Dad will be the first to offer a shoulder to cry on when you’re dealing with a bad break up or a boss that just won’t let up! So remember to make a gap in your busy schedule for some family time; they’ll appreciate it and you’ll realize how important they are when you need them the most.
4. Get by with a little help from your friends
Whether they’re old or new, friends are the family we’ve picked up along the way. They’re a support network and should be there cheering you on through success and helping you get up again when you fail. Good friends can be hard to find; so make sure the people you’re surrounding yourself with are positive influences and will help you get to where you want to be. If your high school friends aren’t inspiring you to reach new levels of personal development, have the courage to branch out and meet new people.
5. Spend some time looking at yourself
Picture a puppy the first time they see themselves in a mirror. They’re a little confused and are not quite sure what they’re looking at. We’re more or less the same in our twenties. Throughout childhood and as a teen we’re taught how to think and what to do, but as a twenty-something, you’re an adult.
You need to find your own way in the world. This is a great time for self-reflection and to figure out who you are. If you were ever going to reinvent yourself, now is the time to do it. Decide what your belief systems and values are… Ask yourself: What really matters to you?
6. Never stop thinking, learning and growing
It’s easy to get lazy after high school and college. To slam the books closed, vowing never to open another one again! But try to keep the constantly curious little kid version of yourself active. Never stop thinking; question everything. Learning as much as you can is the best way develop yourself. Create the person you want to be by learning from others, and then lead future generations by your good example.
7. Having swag won’t make you successful
So you got your first paycheck and excitement-induced images of everything you’ve ever wanted are flashing through your mind so fast you start impulse-buying things you never knew you needed! You’re offering expensive drinks to friends, the phrase ‘this round’s on me’ becomes second nature and your closet is so full of new clothes you start considering a credit card to buy a new wardrobe just to make extra space!
Before you get carried away, however, remember that real friends will appreciate buying their own drinks if it means they’re not supporting you when your debts are piling up and you‘re asking them for favors. Spend wisely.
8. Karma is King
Whether it’s ruining relationships, using under-handed methods to steal a promotion from a colleague or ignoring your parents’ plea for a Sunday lunch visit, remember that what you send out into the world is what will be sent back to you. Be a good person, it’s always worth it.
9. Invest in some Identity Capital
With all of the confusion and pressures we’re going through, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and lose track of what we’re trying to achieve. Instead of having an identity crises, invest in some identity capital. Spend the valuable time in this life-changing decade concentrating your efforts on doing things that add value to who you are or who you want to be. Focus on the things that matter.
10. Plan Ahead
It’s always a good idea to have a plan, as long as your plan is flexible. Planning ahead can help to focus and visualize goals, encourages us to move in the right direction and can be the driving force to success. But because our twenties are a time of discovery, change and growth, it’s highly unlikely that what you plan to do at twenty one is going to be what you’re planning at twenty five. Be adaptable and learn to change with the circumstances.
Like it or not, we’re going to be thrown into the ocean of adult life. It’s up to us to decide whether we spend time during our twenties learning to swim so we can face the waves and move forward, or waste it stagnantly splashing about in the shallow end.
You create your fate, you develop your destiny.
This is a pivotal time in your life, the moment you shape your future is now!
Don’t waste it.