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Live Life Without Regrets- Ten Things You'll Wish You Had Done in Your Twenties

Updated on July 30, 2012

Take Life By the (ehem) Balls!

How many people who turn forty bemoan about how fast life goes and carry regrets that they should have done this or that when they were young and full of energy? What if you could sit down with a list of things that the older generation says, “I wish I had done that when I was 20!” and then actually do them?

It's important for the younger generation to recognize the potential in those in-between years between high school and settling into a family. America has broadened the season that young adults sort of "float" around trying to figure out their lives, and without clear intentions, you may find yourself wasting precious time, money, and energy.

How many of them will you be able to check off your list?

Sure he's cute now, until he pees on your new baby in 7 years
Sure he's cute now, until he pees on your new baby in 7 years

10. Listen to your parents and decide against buying a dog.
It sounds so romantic doesn’t it? Just you and Lassie taking the world by storm. You pick a dog that carries a presence and personality. For a couple of years you and him are pals. That is, until you get married and your spouse is allergic. Or- you decide to have a child and Spot isn’t so fond of the newborn. Making purchases like a dog carry an investment of 10-15 years. Unless you know what your life circumstances will be (generally speaking), it’s best to wait until you’re sure of your family status. Dogs cost a lot of money. Vet bills and food may not be a big deal when it’s just you living on PB&J, but add a couple of people to that unit- and be assured, the wife isn’t going to let the pup be fed better than the baby.

9. Sky dive, cliff jump, and learn to surf.
It’s so cliché, but there is a reason. People don’t typically get these adrenalin inducing adventures later on when responsibilities are abundant. If you don’t experience at least one adventure in your twenties, chances are you’ll want to do it in your fifties- when the difficulties of life make the idea of an escape more appealing. Unfortunately for older folks who can’t sky dive, they settle for extra-marital affairs and other easier to accomplish ventures. Get it out of your system the healthy way.

8. Have less sex.
Don’t stop reading just because it sounds like a horrible idea. Do you know that STD’s are rampant among teenagers and adults? Many states require a blood test prior to marriage and the last thing you want to do a couple months before your wedding day is stand in line at the pharmacy for medicine for that disease you didn’t know you had. If you are female, STD’s can make conceiving a child harder. Just pick a partner and don’t sleep around.

Come on now, who's cooler than you?
Come on now, who's cooler than you?

7. Stick with your old car.
Of course racing around in the brand new beamer does wonders for your dating life, but why take on a hefty car payment when you can easily use public transportation, drive a clunker, or bum rides off of your friends? There will come a day when it’s not just you anymore, and you’ll be scouring Consumer Reports for the safest most bulletproof car you can find. Save up the cash for then.

6. Don’t complain about being bored.
Listen carefully- there will NEVER be a better time for opportunity. Wasting your freedom is akin to eating a steak in front of a starving child. Marriage and family brings a host of responsibilities that will never go away. Use your twenties to accomplish something besides beating Call of Duty. Please.

5. Enjoy your body.
How many people when they are forty look at pictures of themselves in their twenties and say, “good grief! Why did I complain about my weight? I looked great!” Yes you did. The law of perpetual dissatisfaction states that with a critical mindset, you will never enjoy yourself at any age because you’ll always be wishing for the past or hoping for the future. Marvel in the strength, energy, and vigor of a young adult.

Stick it out with your school plans
Stick it out with your school plans

4. Donate your time and money to charity.
There is nothing quite as rewarding as giving of your resources to a non-profit organization. Marriage and family make a trip to Africa or Asia more difficult and the life experience you can gain from an adventure like that is invaluable. You’ll boost your resume as well for the future when employers see what you’ve accomplished. If you’re a guy, it doesn’t hurt with the ladies either. Find a charity you are passionate about and get involved. Once you are married, you will be able to continue your investment on a smaller scale because you have already done the networking.

3. Finish school.
Of course there are thousands of people who complete an advanced degree with families. Interview a couple and you’ll realize it’s HARD work. A lot harder than if you just plow through it now when you are unencumbered. Once a spouse and kids come along, their needs will be loud and urgent- and schoolwork will be difficult to complete against competing needs.

2. Start that business venture.
People in their twenties are better equipped to handle failure in the business world for one reason- they have time to start over. Designing that new video game might make you the poorest 25 year old ever, but it will not be possible once a family is in the picture. Many people swap out their risky all hours’ jobs for a more stable one when little Jane is born. You have the time, the energy to pull all nighters, and no one else’s needs to meet. Do it.

Dave Ramsey- Save or Spend?

And the number one thing?

1. Start saving.
Open up a David Ramsey book on finances and you’ll want to chew your arm off when you see the money you can save if you start in your twenties. One diagram shows how someone who’s 19 and saving $2000.00 a year for several years will outperform someone who starts saving at age 27 and continues to save until retirement. It’s the law of compound interest. Switch out the extra 12 pack of beer and put it in a savings account. Saving money while you are still on your own will reap benefits that can be enjoyed for years to come.

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    • Nichole Elizabeth profile image

      Nichole Fausey 11 months ago from Pennsylvania

      I certainly wish I'd seen a list like this before I went to college. I don't feel like I missed out on anything, but it would have helped direct my activities and spending in college to prepare for life after school. Definitely could have planned for the future better.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

      This list is so very useful. The only problem is that it's difficult for one in their twenties to appreciate the importance of it. Time moves so quick and before we know it, it's too late to make a big difference.

      These are definitely things that should be started when young. The most extreme is the last point about how effective the law of compound interest is, when started early in life.

    • profile image

      Pharme172 4 years ago

      Very nice site!

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

      Awesome list...now only wish I fwd it to all the teens :)

      Julie, you have some interesting hubs and would like to read them by following you...cheers to a new beginning :)

    • Winsome profile image

      Winsome 4 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      I like your spirit here Julie.

      When I was one-and-twenty

      I heard a wise woman say,

      'Give to charity time and money

      But not your heart away;

      Give yourself to education

      But keep your free-time free.'

      But I was one-and-twenty,

      No use to talk to me.

      When I was one-and-twenty

      I heard her say again,

      Save now for your future

      And that start-up begin

      For if you wait much longer

      Your dreams may not come true

      And I am years older,

      And oh, 'tis true, 'tis true.

      Apologies to A.E. Housman =: )

    • profile image

      kelleyward 4 years ago

      Great advice Julie! I wish I would have started a business adventure in my 20's or saved more money! Voted up and useful. Take care, Kelley

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I agree with this list, mainly because I try my best to do many of these. #10 and #8 to me are common sense but I think I'm in the minority for people my age. So many people live in the moment without thinking of long-term consequences while I fast-forward usually to what happens after what happens. #4 is something important to me. I like helping others and I think establishing the habit now pre-family life is a good idea. Great hub and great advice!

    • Pinkchic18 profile image

      Sarah Carlsley 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Awesome tips here! Thank you for the helpful advice!

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 4 years ago from Virginia

      Great hub Julie, I wish I had read this ten years ago...can you do one for thirties? I still have three years! Voted up and awesome!

    • profile image

      Lauren James 4 years ago

      This is a great blog! I'm 21, so should be able to do at least some of them. ;-)

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image

      Shell Vera 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Excellent hub! Wish I had read it 15 years ago. :) Very good tips and suggestions.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear Julie . . .Wow, what a hub! Great advice I might add. Voted up and all the way. You, my new friend, are a wonderful person and writer. Glad to meet you on Hubs. Keep on touching lives with your hubs like you touched my life.

      Kenneth

    • profile image

      Beachlife 4 years ago

      Great hub some of these i keep telling my 16 yr,lol. trying to get it in her head early on.

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
      Author

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      Thanks :) great to meet you!

    • novascotiamiss profile image

      novascotiamiss 4 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      Julie, this is one of the best hubs I've read in a long time. I absolutely agree with you on every point. I hope you'll inspire many young readers to follow your advice.

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
      Author

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      That's a hilarious mental image -lol

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Oh, if only . . .

      Great advice. Every 20 year old should tape this hub to their forehead.

    • MelChi profile image

      Melanie Chisnall 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      These are all SO true!! Great advice Julie, thanks for sharing. Voted up and sharing :)

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
      Author

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      @grace- thanks so much for the encouragement!

    • graceomalley profile image

      graceomalley 4 years ago

      This is absolutely awesome! I'm 45, and couldn't agree more!

    • twoseven profile image

      twoseven 4 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      I agree with all of these! I would also have to add that you should travel as much as possible! The window closes so quickly, before you even know it, and anything you think is too important to miss in your 20s (I'm assuming before you have kids, if that's something you want to do) is not! I loved the places I traveled in my 20s and I only wish I would have done more... Really great list!

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Great article here Julie...6, 3 & 1 get my votes...well done...cheers

    • maryhoneybee profile image

      maryhoneybee 4 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

      A really "go-getter" of a hub! Awesome! =) 6 and 5 I need drilled into my head--and you know what? I AM going to try ziplining! We'll see about skydiving, haha.

      Thanks for the encouraging hub! Voted up!

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
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      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      @rtburroughs2 Wow. what a compliment. Thanks for the encouragement! :)

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
      Author

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      @princess - I agree, most of the people who like it are older! LOL, although there are a few whipper snappers here that like it too.... you just never know.

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
      Author

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      @olde cashmere Thanks for commenting. Nice to meet you! :)

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
      Author

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      @victoria Yeah the giving to charity thing is hard if you are in school full-time. I should have said, if you're NOT in school, give to charity :)

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
      Author

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      Thanks! :)

    • rtburroughs2 profile image

      Robert Burroughs 4 years ago

      This is one of the best articles I have read on Hub Pages.

    • princesswithapen profile image

      princesswithapen 4 years ago

      It is doubtful that a fun loving person in twenties will actually take up most of these things. However when they move on to their 30's they are likely to go "Oh I wish I had taken Julie's post seriously!"

      Lovely post. I'm sharing it with friends and followers.

      Princesswithapen

    • Olde Cashmere profile image

      Olde Cashmere 4 years ago from Michigan, United States

      This was such an intriguing article for me. I'm always pondering my future and what I need to do to make it a bright one. I feel like I'm finally moving in the right direction and this hub was a great reminder to continue doing important things and living in the moment. Wonderful writing Julie DeNeen, voted up, shared, useful, awesome, beautiful, and interesting :)

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Dang, I guess I did okay! (Thanks, Mom!) Guess I'm boring! I didn't have a dog, had NO sex at that age, always drove an old car, always saved money, for sure finished school at least once! Didn't give to charity b/c was going to school too much. Did later on, though. Never wanted to sky dive or that kind of stuff.

      Never been bored a day in my life, either. Too many interests and hobbies and things I want to do. I think I can thank my mom a lot for the way I was raised, as I never understood some of the stuff other young people were doing....

      Great hub. Sorry I was such a young nerd. Going to share this one.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image

      Melissa Flagg 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Awesome hub. I've only done one of these steps (I kept my old car, I've had it for 13 years!) but you can bet I'm going to try some of them!!

      Voted up, awesome and shared!

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
      Author

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      @Minnetonka Twin- Yeah, I remember thinking I needed to lose a few for my honeymoon. Ha! What a joke!

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Nice article Julie. I had to laugh at the part about looking at an old picture and saying, "I looked great, how could I think I was fat." Some of these tips I did wrong but learned great lessons. I do wish that I had put away that money earlier.

    • profile image

      WhydThatHappen 4 years ago

      hahaha! I've never heard that before and I'm surprised by that.

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
      Author

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      WhydThatHappen - It's like that saying, Everyone is entitled to my opinion!! :)

    • profile image

      WhydThatHappen 4 years ago

      Nice hub! Good advice- @ least from the point of view of someone who agrees with you, lol!

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
      Author

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      Thank you b.Malin! I returned the favor and followed you. I look forward to getting to know you through your writing.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 4 years ago

      Good Hub, Wonderful Advice Julie...Of course if you're over 40...I proudly admit, having had my kids, one Divorce, and 2nd Marriage...Both Parents GONE before their time, as well as a Niece, who broke our Hearts. I say, LIVE, Enjoy, Experience, and above all LEARN from past mistakes...but NEVER let them tear you down!

      I now look forward to Following your Hubs.

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
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      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      Squeesh Welcome to hubpages...thanks for following me. I returned the favor :)

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
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      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      Ksinll- Wow! 80 huh? That's impressive. I wonder what her twenties were like?! lol

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
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      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      Crystal - Thank you!

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
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      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      Mjboomer What fantastic advice. Thanks! :)

    • mjboomer profile image

      Mike Elzner 4 years ago from Oregon

      Great Hub....Julie,I think I managed most of your list. I would add, as a person of some age...Keep adding to your list, your life will never be dull.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 4 years ago from Georgia

      Great advice Julie!

    • profile image

      ksinll 4 years ago

      Wise advice indeed, all of them. Especially the one about the dog. Also, I went skydiving in my 20s and it was with a group of people that included a mom and her son (leaving for military duty the next day) and a woman on her 80th birthday.

    • Squeesh profile image

      Squeesh 4 years ago from United States

      Fantastic Hub, thanks for sharing!!

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
      Author

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      I like that saying about money and water. I'll have to stick that in my pocket to use on my kids! lol

    • michememe profile image

      Miche Wro 4 years ago

      I agree with the first to commenter's this is a great hub, with great advice. I don't live with regrets, I live with reflection. But the things I wanted to do in my 20's I did. My grandparents always reminded us that we have one life. You have to live it, do the things you want to now. They were big on saving money, we always heard that. Don't spend money like it's water, because it doesn't flow like water. Voted up.

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
      Author

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      Thanks guys! ;)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A timeless article Julie, one that applies for every generation. Great job!

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Excellent article Julie, I love it! Very relevant, I am in my twenties so I could use this, voted up, useful, and all the way down, great job!

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