What to do (or not to do) in your 20s

Do not waste your 20s away

  • the most damaging thing you can ever possibly say to a 20 something is “Oh, you’ve got plenty of time, you don’t need to figure it out now.”. Do this and you end up stalling further
  • This is one of the biggest life mistakes you can make when you are in your 20s

It is urgent that you figure out the life you want to live now, as soon as possible, not later. URGENCY. This talk sort of re-fired up one of the main principles I want to encourage all of you to follow: figure your shit out now! Life goes by fast – really fast – you don’t have time to spare. None of us do.You’re 25 now, and tomorrow you’re 35 with two kids, a spouse, and not enough money – and no time to pursue stuff you’re passionate about.You’re 25 now, and tomorrow you’re 55 having your midlife crisis because you never focused on the important stuff when you were young… and now you have to figure it out when you have fewer resources, time, and poorer health.

  • Do not avoid the important, hard questions when you are young.

But once she hit her 30s or 40s she got crunched by trying to solve several huge life problems at once: finances, relationships, kids, purpose, meaning, passion, etc. And at that point, she couldn’t afford to address them all.

  • Here’s what you should do:

Focus on working your ass off for the life you truly want. Many of you already know what that is. If you don’t, begin the road to experimentation. Start today. Find or make work you enjoy, that pays you enough for the lifestyle you want. Live the life you want to read about in books and stories. Start doing less in life, and start doing more stuff that is meaningful. Do a flow test for a month – eliminate the shit you hate, do more of the stuff that makes your life worth living.

None of us have lots of time. We just think we do. The more you put off the hard questions, the harder you make your life later. Do the hard work today. So stop wasting your time on work, people, and activities that don’t matter, and start pursuing the shit that does matter.

8 biggest life mistakes you can make in your 20s

  • Avoid asking yourself the hard questions. Cause you’re afraid of the answers.

Guess what. Lots of other people hate their jobs. You’re not special. But only a small percentage do something about it. They take the courses, they read the books, they learn the skills, they make the network, then they make a change. It’s time to stop being afraid, and ask yourself the hard questions. What do you really want to do?

  • Living someone else’s life

But the worst part – and I mean, by far the worst part – is that somewhere down the road, maybe 2 years, or 5, or 25, this creeping dissatisfaction with life enters your world.

Whether that’s at 25, or 50, those little stirrings of discontent show up. First in your job, then in your life. Your relationships start going haywire. You start going haywire. Your life goes through a new incarnation. And it was all because you ignored your gut.  So I don’t really know what else to tell you other than this: You already know what you want, you just have to go for it. It will be one of the hardest things you ever do in your life. But it will be the single, most worthwhile thing you ever do.

  • Thinking you will “figure it out”, and then go do something

You’ve heard this a million times before, but there is almost never a perfect time. The more time you spend figuring it out or thinking, the more you screw yourself over. It won’t get you any closer to figuring out anything.

  • Making expensive financial decisions when you don’t have a clue what you’re doing. This includes going to graduate school “just to see what it’s like”. Instead, shadow the people in the professions you want to be in. Interview them and find out what it is really like; sometimes it is not as glamourous as you think. 
  • Being dissatisfied in a job and doing nothing about it.

I consider it a big mistake to stay in a situation you’re unhappy with (when you’re young) because it’s one of the only times in your life when you can be uber-selfish and just go do whatever the hell you want on a whim.

The only things holding you back then are….

1) Fear of the unknown 2) Laziness – looks tough; I’ll pass. 3) Lack of information (You tell yourself, but it’s a lie, it’s actually laziness. There’s no such thing as lack of info in the internet age. It’s lack of action.) 4) Not knowing what you want (and feeling like you need all the info before you act)

This may be the last time in your life you can start or quit 10 different jobs, or businesses without losing much.  What’s holding you back?

  • Getting too comfortable

That’s how LIFE IS.  When you start doing things that make you uncomfortable you grow.  If you want to know the secret to getting good at just about anything, it’s this – as soon as you get comfortable, find a way to make yourself uncomfortable again. Choose growth. We are happy when we’re growing.

  • Settling and giving up

“I spent my entire life buying stuff. Buying a nice apartment, filling my nice apartment with nice stuff. Buying nice clothes. Not even going on vacation. And now I find it ironic that I’m giving it all away to friends because none of it matters. So what else do I have to show for my life? Nothing. I spent 30 years accumulating nothing.”It was scary to me. And unfortunately that’s where I find most of my friends who have “given up.”  They just settle in and buy all the trappings of a comfortable but boring life.

  • Believing in the retirement lifestyle

For many of us the stars never align, the clouds never part, and the sun never shines. You just have to pick a day when you’re in a good-fucking mood for an adventure, and go for it.

You can’t store up happiness. You can’t store up life stories and experience. A lost day is a lost day. One day putting off your dream is just another day you’re getting further away and losing time.

You and I both know that “one day” never ever happens. One day becomes 40 years. Ask your parents. Ask them what dreams they’ve put off. One day becomes 40 years very, very quickly.

Reasons to not quit your job and travel the world

You see, I haven’t met a single person who has used that time wisely to “figure out” their life. Does quitting their job solve the problem of work? of purpose? of meaning? long-term does it help? Does it make you feel like your time is worthwhile?

Many of them (assuming they don’t go back home after a short period) go right back to the reality they left in the first place, just a few years later.


Although there’s nothing wrong with that, we naively assume that these things are going to make us happier long term. The truth is they won’t.

The problem is that most of us don’t just want world travel or adventure – we want many other things like a job we love, the feeling that time spent has been worthwhile, and an exciting, not-at-all-mediocre life. Your problems or gripes with society aren’t magically going to disappear because you did.


  • Long-term thinking your life has been worthwhile

What was “missing” from your ordinary life is also going to still be missing from your travels because you’ve chosen to address symptoms and not the core discontent that bothers you.



That’s because you need to start trying things out – it doesn’t matter where you are. Sitting in an ashram in india meditating is not going to materialize your dream job in front of you.


  • Purpose and meaning

But you don’t magically find purpose and meaning by traveling. You find it by doing shit. You find it by trying new things. You find it by cultivating relationships with friends and family or love with your spouse. You find it by creating some mission that is important to you and meaningful.

You find it by producing and not consuming.

  • Happiness

It’s just contrary to the nature of happiness. Like success, the more you pursue happiness, the madder you become and the futher you get. Rather, it’s a natural side effect of doing things right. Traveling will not bring you happiness long-term, nope, no way.


There are even myriad studies to show that although people’s happiness peaks before/during a trip, after the return it returns to the pre-trip levels. It’s fleeting. Days are more important than events.



You’re on a temporary opiate high.


  • Balancing adventure and reality

The art is not in creating adventure and meaning while on an adventure. That’s easy, anyone can do it. The art is creating an insanely meaningful and exciting life while living your day to day life.


  • Finding enjoyment in daily life and finding or creating work you love

Wherever you are, have you actually thought about what makes life meaningful? Have you actually thought about your “ideal” way to work and have fun? Have you actually thought about your ideal lifestyle? These things don’t just come as magical realizations while you’re meditating in some ashram in India.

So here’s my advice: take those trips, travel for a year, or two years, or three, or forever. Live abroad. But know that  it will not solve a single problem in your life.


Now what do I do with my life?

  • Learn new, hard stuff

Growth. What are you doing after work?

“All around me I hear people complaining about their lives. Well, what are you doing in your leisure time? In 25 years you haven’t done anything to advance yourself? In 25 years of leisure time you could become an open heart surgeon, so what are you doing?” – Earl Nightingale

Considering the “10,000 hour rule” to become a world-class master at something…. that means every 27 years you could become WORLD-CLASS at something.

Oh, in your part time. You could become Steve Jobs level at something

Pick GROWTH – what new thing do you want to try that requires learning, effort, and has a bit of difficulty?


  • Get some mad skillz

In my own business, and my life, each quarter I set a growth goal. And it only has to have TWO prerequisites:

1. It must be fucking awesome (= intrinsic motivation).

2. It must require growth.

Here’s how I define growth: It has to require skills, connections, a mindset, or a work ethic that I currently do not have. First quarter of last year, that was writing a book. I didn’t know anything about writing that many pages, formatting, marketing, selling, etc.


Just focus on difficulty and fun. You’ll grow.



If the current version of yourself can do it now, it’s not a worthy goal.


  • The Harry Potter Scribbles

When I pursue a goal because it’s so cool that I can’t stop talking about it… now that’s when I keep going.

Take 20 minutes and write down all the potential “dream paths,” just let your mind roam and you’ll see that some of them may actually turn out to be logical paths.

  • The Traction Principle

If you’re pursuing multiple jobs, interests, or, shit, even people you want to date, here’s how I would go about it:

Try out:

Thing 1

Thing 2

Thing 3

Thing 4

Thing 5

…Do each one for 30 days, and then see which one is working the best, which one is lining up, or which one you like the most.

(Starting to see the idea of “which one gets traction?”).

Then ditch the rest, focus, and double down until you really start seeing better results.


Pick five or ten things, test them rapidly, see what sticks, and move full-speed ahead.


  • Don’t pursue goals whose process you do not like

But I didn’t realize the secret sauce of achievement – you have to love the process more than you love the outcome.

If you like the IDEA of being a famous guitarist, or being in a famous band, but you aren’t intrinsically motivated to play guitar 3-5 hours a day, give up the goal. You won’t likely get there.


The secret sauce of life is PROCESS. THE process.

If you find yourself following all these goals and day to day you absolutely hate the shit out of them – taking 500 basketball shots, spending three hours in the gym, writing 2,000 words a day, shooting videos – why are you even doing them?

Why life is passing you by

The less present you are during the day, the more quickly it feels like time is passing.

And generally, the less you are doing activities you enjoy, the less you are in flow, and the more you think.

**The more you think, the less you are paying attention to life and the more unhappy you get.

When you’re unhappy, you tend to be thinking a lot about life. When your job sucks, you’re not engaged. You’re listless and googling shit, and in general not enjoying what’s going on.

When you love your work, or a class you’re in, or a hobby after work, you’re fully present because you’re having a great time. When you’re present, you aren’t thinking. When you aren’t thinking, you’re generally happy. You’re not looking for an out. The time that is passing is “worthwhile.”

It all revolves around things that intensely make you present and turn off your mind.


  • #1 Deactivate all social media, and turn off your phone (and anything that lets you view the lives of others)

It stems from the human mind’s incessant desire to compare ourselves with others.

But there’s another hidden problem: it pulls you as far away from possible from the present.


When you’re focusing on the shit that you have to do now, to improve your life now, your mind turns off.


  • #2 Do more activities that put you in flow

First, I re-arranged my schedule, and started off my day with an activity I liked that engaged my brain.


Second, I made my day job more engaging.



Outside of work, you can put yourself in flow (non-think mode) by following step #3 – creating a kick ass daily routine.


  • #3 Create a daily ritual of things you love

All of these things shut my mind off. That’s the key. I would tell you to meditate but I know most of you won’t do it. The easiest way to essentially “meditate” then is to find activities that naturally engage you, and turn them into a daily ritual.

I would work in the morning and later at night, so I could enjoy that 4-6 pm I was in a cafe reading. And then 6:30-7:30 in a gym, and then 8-9:30 at judo.  There wasn’t a shitty day that couldn’t be fixed by 5 hours of straight flow. Ponder that.

Find what shuts your mind off.

  • #4 Create & Produce


People are most happy when we’ve produced or created something with our time. The act of producing or creating is one of those things that contributes massively to living a meaningful life.


If there were ever a quick road to meaning, it would be this: just start creating something. Produce something you believe in.  Whether that’s a book, a piece of art, or just a meetup group… when we produce (rather than consume) we get into flow and time becomes much more enjoyable.

We start to think “Wow, if I never existed, this creation would never exist on earth.” Powerful. You feel important.

  • #5 When in doubt, DO something (don’t think about it, you’ll just end up miserable)

You should realize by now that one of the fundamental causes behind unhappiness is thinking. For whatever reason, the human mind doesn’t naturally think about all the good things that can happen.

But here’s the thing: You’re thinking and working yourself up but not doing anything, so you’re actually not getting any closer. It’s not surprising that you’re confused as hell.

Whatever it is – really – when in doubt, just go do something.  Spend as little time thinking and as much time doing. Aside from the obvious (you’ll product results, unlike most people), there is the other benefit that you won’t be stuck in circles all day in your mind.

You know those people who are always living vicariously through others?They don’t DO anything.

  • #6 Laser tag Mondays, wine tasting Tuesdays, slip n slide Wednesdays, micro adventure Thursdays

For many of us, the boredom (and resulting internal monologue) is one of the main reasons life is flying by and we can’t slow it down.

The other obvious one is that you’re doing the same thing every day. Chances are, if you’re complaining about life passing you by, you aren’t doing the things you enjoy and want to be doing.

This is the exact reason why I started learning a new skill (or doing a new activity) every 30 days.  This is where my 30 day flow test experiment originated.

I would spend 30 days studying wine (just an hour each evening).  The next month I would spend an hour outside walking (to see how it affects my stress levels).  The next month I would spend an hour a night learning about acupressure points and seeing if they did anything to me. The following month I’d practice some of the memory tricks from Moonwalking With Einstein.

  • The Secret to Slowing Life Down

What kind of things should we do as much as possible? Anything that puts you in flow and turns off your brain.



Stop letting life pass you by, and go do something.


Signs you are a post-college loser avoiding reality

We try to justify all these actions but rarely do we sit down and think about how beneficial they’d be 3, 5, or 10 years down the line. We also rarely think about what we really want.


99% of some people will never escape that reality for most of their life.  They often talk of escape but are too afraid of leaving what they have behind.


Are you putting off “life” because the life you’re gonna go back to sucks big time?

Are you putting off reality? In other words, are you fleeing your circumstances for the time being, even though you know you’re going to have to come back to them? Is what you’re doing going to bite you in the ass in a few years?

The world is going to be as you left it. If how you left it was chaotic, messy, confusing, and unfriendly, that’s how you’ll find it.



Hopefully then we want to ask ourselves how we’re investing our time — because you can either waste it (where what you do won’t return anything to you), or you can invest it for a potential return.


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