As I get closer to 30, I can’t help but think about the last several years and think about my 20s. These ten years of our lives are so incredibly important and can be really exciting! Learning how to prepare for your late 20s now might be the last thing on your mind, but it shouldn’t be.
For me, the past seven years of my 20s have included graduating college, moving twice, having three jobs, learning the importance of self-care, and finding my passion and reason for being. There have definitely been challenging times, but I am thankful for all of it.
There are definitely some things I wish I had done differently in my early 20s. I also feel a commitment to share what I have learned with younger 20 somethings. We will all make choices we later think aren’t great, but my hope is that yours are different than mine because you learn from my less-than-best choices.
Here are some of the things I want to share and hope you all learn from me.
Please, please think about how you spend your money. By no means am I telling you to not enjoy this time in your life, but be thoughtful about your money choices.
For most people, our first jobs are not incredibly lucrative, and we may be struggling financially. Embrace that struggle. For me, embracing the struggle meant I still tried to save some when I could, even if it wasn’t a lot. I have blogged about this before, but I would recommend doing your future self a favor and saving for retirement.
I know, I know, we won’t be retiring for a long time, and you have plenty of time to save. While that is true, the earlier you start, the more money you will have later. I was just at a young professional event, and one of the panelists said, “Financial freedom leads to true freedom.” If you can work now to create financial stability, it will create options and choices for you later.
[clickToTweet tweet=”If you can work now to create financial stability, it will create options and choices for you later.” quote=”If you can work now to create financial stability, it will create options and choices for you later.”]
Work as hard as you can. I am a huge advocate of self-care (so please don’t hear me saying work constantly, and burn the candle at both ends). When I say work as hard as you can, I mean be fully present at work, and give it your all.
For many of us, this time of our lives, as far as work life goes, involves us climbing up the ladder and potentially doing ‘grunt’ work. That is fine — get as much as experience as you can, and learn as much as you can. Working hard and learning harder will set you up for whatever type of career success you want later in your life.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Work hard in your early 20s to build a strong foundation for your career in your 30s.” quote=”Work hard in your early 20s to build a strong foundation for your career in your 30s.”]
If I could go back and do anything differently, I would create a healthy lifestyle earlier in my twenties instead of later.
What my current healthy lifestyle looks like includes eating well more often than not, working out, and practicing mindfulness. I am now working out to lose weight, but had I started earlier, I would be working out to maintain a healthy lifestyle and because it was a habit. A healthy lifestyle looks different for different people, but whatever it looks like for you, try to begin practicing it early rather than later.
Cultivate a Few Meaningful Relationships
College is an interesting time from a friendship standpoint. We are literally surrounded by people all of the time. Having friendships doesn’t really require much effort. When you become an adult, it is very different. Once we are not all in the same place, it requires more intention. Also, once we have busy schedules, our friendships have to become a priority.
I just finished up Brené Brown’s Daring Way program with my life coach, and the concept of friendship is really important. In order to be resilient and self-compassionate, we have to have some meaningful friendships. We have to have people in our corner who will have our back when things are hard and celebrate us when things are great. Cultivate these early.
[clickToTweet tweet=”We have to have people in our corner who will have our back when things are hard & celebrate us when things are great” quote=”We have to have people in our corner who will have our back when things are hard & celebrate us when things are great”]
Read The Defining Decade
I have said it before, and I will say it again, everyone in their 20s should read this book. Dr. Meg Jay is a therapist who works with a lot of 20-somethings.
During her experience with her patients, she learned that so many of us were not utilizing these years and thought they were throw-away years. Her book teaches us how to maximize these 10 years of our lives. She has a great TED talk too, but the book is great.
To my fellow twenty-somethings, I hope you can learn from the GenTwenty family and kick ass in your 20s!