Are you currently in your 20s? The 20s can be a confusing time for many of us. It’s always when we have lots of things going on in our lives – college/getting an education work, starting a family, finding a life partner, purchasing your first house and so on. It’s also that time in our lives that we are discovering ourselves in a much deeper way and establishing our identities. 20s is also the time of youth. And like it or not, it’s usually dubbed the “golden era” of our lives and This will be the decade where you are at the prime of your life – the most energetic, the best looking, little responsibilities, and tons of opportunities at your feet.
So how then can we make the most of these 10 years? And not just that, what sorts of habits could we establish in our 20s that will set us on a good path for the rest of our lives? I outline some of my thoughts in these series of posts (more to come in the near future), gathering observations from strangers, friends and most of all, my own life.
Things to start doing in your 20s:
- Take more risks and challenges. Step out of your comfort zone. Start that business. Write that book. Take that new job 3000km from home. Go on that solo backpacking trip. Ask that girl/guy out. Don’t let negativity, uncertainty and fears consume you. Life IS uncertain. But if you’ve never tried, you never know. Don’t bring your regrets to your grave. There’s a first time for everything. The world offers us endless opportunities to take advantage of, all we need to do is take that first step.
- Love more. Say I love you more. To your parents, loved ones, husband, kids, close friends and anyone you love and are in love with. Say it freely. Hug and kiss them freely. Greet them with warmth each morning and say Goodnight in earnest. Life is short and it is unpredictable. People could be here one minute, gone the next. Do not wait til it’s too late.
- Slow down. Take a deep breath. Look at the sky – how do the clouds look like today? Observe the people around you – what are they doing? How does the chair you are sitting in feel? Marvel at the colours of things around you. Feel that pen in your hand. The shape. The texture. We are always rushing around, getting things done, checking off items on our to-do lists. Always busy. Always doing. Appreciate your surroundings and be present. Be an observer of life and of people. It’s calming.
- Reflect. Daily. Think about your day – how did it go? What made you happy? It could be an amazing cup of coffee you had in the morning or a great presentation you just nailed at work. Process your feelings and emotions. How did you feel at that time? Find a way to record all of that down. In whichever way feels comfortable for you. You don’t have to write pages of journals each day if it’s not your style. There are one-sentence journals, morning pages and variations of writing tools – both digital and analogue. Record a video. Snap photos. Draw. Keeping a log of your daily activities, thoughts and feelings means you have something to look back on when you are older. Time passes so quickly the days seem to meld into one another and there’s very little inkling of what we’ve done sometimes. Keeping a log of sorts helps. It’s also a great way to know yourself better and see how you’ve changed over the months and years.
- Say Yes. If you are anything like me, you tend to hesitate whenever a there’s a chance to be part of something new. I love to meet new people but the weird thing is that I sometimes don’t know how to. Whenever I get an invite to an event or function, I spend most of my time mentally weighing up the pros and cons and finding excuses not to go. Don’t do that! Whenever an rsvp for an event, party or networking session or whatever comes up, ,just say yes, just turn up! You never know how much fun you are gonna have and who you will meet. And if you end up just bored out of your mind, you could always excuse yourself and leave. Don’t talk yourself out of something before it has even started. Go out and see the world!
- But learn to say No too. Steve Jobs: “It’s by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” By deciding what you don’t want, you are setting boundaries for yourself. Having boundaries means knowing and understanding what your limits are and accepting those limits. Saying no to something or someone frees yourself up to say yes to something or someone else.
- Volunteer. Help others. Pick an area of society to give back to. Animals? Elderly? Orphaned children? It could also be something small, like volunteering your expertise to a particular organisation. Research has shown that volunteering increases your overall happiness, and, helping others and giving back to the world makes us feel more connected with others.
- Treat yourself. Indulge yourself from time to time. Cause when we don’t treat ourselves, we start to feel deprived and that’s when our motivations, routines and good habits start to go wonky. When you treat yourself, you are recharging yourself. And when you are recharged, you have more of yourself to give.
- Fall in love with failure. Accept that you are human and you WILL make mistakes. Some will be huge, and costly even; others will be small. But don’t worry, you will be OK! As Paul Coelho said, “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure”. Don’t let the fear of failing and of making mistakes hold you back from pursuing your goals.
- Start today, not tomorrow. There is no ‘right’ or ‘perfect’ time. There’s just now. Don’t wait too long to get something done or keep putting things off. Stuff accumulates and opportunities pass you by when you wait too long. Try not to wait for the right time or right mood to do something. If it’s on your list, just do it!