How to Make the Most of your Twenties: Complete Guide to Your Formative Years

The 20s represent an important decade in life. This period gives you a chance to transform your adolescent mindset into adulthood.

However, most things that people did in the 20s are being done in the 30s. People are marrying later, finishing school later, and getting employed later. This has given rise to the notion of 30 being the new 20.

But you would be mistaken to adopt this view. If you see 20 as an extended adolescence, you will spend this whole decade being unproductive and unprogressive. When you are parting with it, you will look back and ask yourself, “What have I been doing in the last decade?” By this time, unfortunately, it will be too late to make amends.

This article is your guide to how you must conduct yourself in your 20s? Without wasting time, let’s get to it.

1. Take Risks...

Teenagers are notorious for indulging in risky behaviors. Some examples include excessive drinking, unsafe sex, and reckless driving. But these are not the kinds of risks you must take. Being in your 20s means you are a grown-up. So your actions, even when risky, must add to your prospects of a better future.

Mark Zuckerberg CEO of Facebook

The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.

Risk taking makes you smarter. This was proved in a study by the University of Turk in Finland. The researchers’ associated risk taking with seeking challenges and concluded that challenges exercise the brain.

Another benefit that comes with risk taking is that you learn from mistakes, which are crucial for personal growth. Playing it safe does not put you in new situations, and this means no new lessons.

The biggest problem is that we amplify the dangers of risk taking. Comments like “you will become poor,” “you will have no friends,” or “you will lose your job” scare us. And we hold on to whatever mediocre comforts we have.

Sadly, we never consider the dangers of avoiding risks. These include “failing to progress in life,” “being passed over for promotion,” or “failing to achieve our dreams.”

entrepreneur

The 20s is the best period to take risks. If you fail, you have time on your side to rebound. You will learn important lessons which will increase your chances of success next time. In addition, you will learn to control your fear of failure and increase your confidence.

Jessie Goldenberg is a good example of someone who took a risk to pursue her passion. She left her job at CBS to start her own fashion business named Nomad, a mobile fashion retailer. Luckily, she became so successful that she broke even in the first year.

2. Take Control of Your Life

A mother knows when her baby is hungry. She also knows when the baby wants to play with a toy. However, she cannot know what food the baby will prefer at a certain time. Or what toy it would like to play with.

The same is true for you—you are the only one who knows exactly what you want. While many will give you advice with good intentions, this advice is based on assumptions on what they believe may be best for you. As such, you must not let external influences decide where you should go.

Many people complain of unfulfilling jobs because somebody thought that was the best job.

You should not let your life follow this course. Make an effort to form own opinions. Know your options in any given situation and try to make your own decisions. Or else, you will surely be persuaded by others.

choose-the-right-direction

One study found that participants who had no idea of what they wanted chose inferior products just because that was what everyone was choosing.

Another study by researchers at the University of Exeter had a similar result. It found that we have evolved that our friends hold more influence over us than instinct. This hinders our ability to be responsive to situations. And by “following the herd,” we end up making decisions that deter our dreams and aspirations.

If you have a herd mentality, it may not be easy to let it go. But you must make a conscious effort to.

For a start, think using first principles rather than analogy. With first principles, you try to break down what is true about something and make decisions from that. With analogy, on the contrary, you make decisions based on what people consider to already be true.

For example, many believe that to succeed in life, you have to work long hours. As such, most of us try to do as much as we can everyday.

Using first principles, you will ask yourself about what is true about success. You need to work, you need to minimize distractions, and you need to minimize errors.

With this, you can then ask yourself how can I get work done in less time while minimizing distractions and mistakes? Some of your answers may include hiring experienced people to help you with other tasks.

Here is a video of Elon Musk talking about thinking using first principles.

3. Deal With Issues That Hold You Back

Have you grown up in an abusive environment? And now that you are older have you tried to address this abuse from childhood? If you are like many twenty-somethings, you probably haven’t.

However, research shows that these experiences can affect your adulthood. You are likely to have chronic health conditions, have surgery often, visit doctors often, use drugs, or even attempt suicide.

Studies show that children raised with attention, love, and care develop an internal Locus of Control (LOC). This means they believe that the keys to the life they want are in their hands. Children who grow in the absence of love, attention, and care tend to grow into adults who have an external Locus of Control. So not only do they not take responsibility for their lives, but they also have low self-esteem and confidence as adults.

The 20s is the best time to clear any bad experiences that hold you back or hurt your confidence.

There are many ways on how you can deal with traumatic events. The nature of the trauma determines the best remedy. However, you can never go wrong by seeking the support of others.

Another thing you want to deal with is your weaknesses, which if left unchecked, will hold you from progressing.

However, there is one important concept you must understand. Do not waste your time fixing weaknesses that are not fatal, even the most successful people are not perfect. Only resolve weaknesses that may keep you from your goals.

Research has shown that 70-80% of leaders and employees benefit from improving their strengths, not fixing flaws. This brings fulfillment and it lets you do what you enjoy.

To get started, make a list of your weaknesses. You may need to ask others as it is difficult to point your flaws. Now think of these weaknesses and if they present challenges to who you want to be.

While in your 20s, you also need to deal with any bad habits. You can, of course, let go of these at any time. But ignoring them throughout your 20s will make them stronger. And you will have a hard time eliminating them later.

For example, most of us like to hit the snooze button, and we find it difficult to break this habit. But did you know that it is unproductive?

bedroom

Snoozing puts your body into a new sleep circle, which, unfortunately, you do not finish. Snoozing also fragments the benefits from the sleep you already had and it changes your sleep cycle. As a result, you end up feeling sluggish and tired for the whole day.

4. Don’t Settle Just Yet

Your parents would swear that it’s best to find a decent job that pays well and keep it until your hair turns gray. But that is not always a smart move. While the pay may be good, you will likely be receiving 50% less after 2 years than if you were a job hopper.

In addition, staying at the same job limits your knowledge. You don’t learn new things by staying in the same organization and doing the same things. A mind that does not seek changes cannot improve.

Changing jobs takes you away from your comfort zone. This keeps you from developing complacency, which is a bad trait for anyone.

Job-hopping will also allow you to discover your true passions.

However, careless job hopping may hurt you. Lots of job changes through the early 20s are associated with lower income at age 32. And men with more fluctuations also have lower status jobs and report lower career satisfaction by age 32. This was proved by Professors Harvey Krahn and Nancy Galambos of the University of Alberta in Canada.

Interestingly, the study said that those who completely switch careers, not just jobs, at least once, more job fluctuations predict high income and career satisfaction at age 32.

For example, before Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson started making movies, he was a famous WWE wrestler. But before even that, he had a football career which he left at 24 to become a wrestler.

Here are some resources you may need as you change jobs:

A mind that does not seek changes cannot improve.

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5. Understand Finance and Productivity

It’s not often that we hear of people making money just by saving. But it can happen. Take the story of Luis Renteria. He saved over $30,000 in 3 years just by using a spreadsheet to track his spending. He used the 50-20-30 rule (50% of his earnings went to essentials, 20% to financial goals and saving, and 30% to flexible spending).

The problem with most of us is that we spend money we don’t have. And this gets us into debt. With this, saving and investing become impossible. So we force ourselves to work more in order to make more.

A 2014 survey by the National Foundation of Credit Counselling found that only 39% of US adults track their spending and have a budget.

woman in office

Most of us see a budget as a punishment. But you must change this mindset and see it as a firewall to protect you from unnecessary expenditures.

While in your 20s, you must learn how to make a budget. You must also learn to invest and save. These financial lessons will be valuable as you age.

Another thing to learn in your 20s is how to be productive. With a constant stream of interruptions, this is not easy to achieve. As a result, most of us work hard, which means working for longer hours.

Paul J. Meyer Author

Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.

But research shows that this is not effective. Working for 9 hours does not mean you do 2 times more work than someone who works for 4.5 hours. In fact, the amount of the work would be the same. This only results in losing time you would have spent relaxing and looking after your health. (HRB)

A 2015 study showed that working long hours is a cause of mental ill health. And that it raises the risk of suffering from stroke and heart disease. So learn to work smart instead.

6. Take Care Of This Often Overlooked Aspect...

Because you are in the prime of your life, you may believe your body may take any abuse you throw at it. But this is misguided. How you treat your body during the twenties can have a big impact on your future.

So in this decade, make sure you look after your body. You must exercise, eat healthily, meditate, and relax. These activities will lower your stress, boost your confidence, make your smart, and make you feel that you are living a fulfilling life.

Here is a video explaining the psychology behind staying healthy:

Conclusion

The twenties is a fun decade. However, you must keep the balance between fun and productivity. If you follow the tips in this article, you can be confident that this decade will not go to waste. Doing the right things will increase your chances of a better future.

Over to you now, do you believe you have been making the most of your twenties so far?



Socially Starting Over: How to Make New Friends in Your Twenties

As a kid, life is simple. You can do what you want without giving it a second thought. But as you grow, you start taking every action seriously, weighing the dangers and benefits of every decision. Somehow, this heavy scrutiny also shows its face in how you make friends. In fact, it limits your ability to make new friends.

As you grow older, you will realize one thing that most adults already know: making friends becomes difficult with age. Laura L. Carstensen of the Stanford Center on Longevity observed that we interact with fewer people as we get older, focusing more on people we already know. You will want to spend more time with your kids than go partying. You will want to dedicate your life to work. These actions rob you of three factors scientists claim are important for new friendships -- proximity, frequent unplanned interactions, and the freedom to confide in another. Basically, you get trapped in a small circle of friends.

However, friends are important for everyone. Research shows that strong social ties may help you live longer, have a healthy life, and keep your mind sharp. So you must work on making new friends.

In this article, let’s explore how you can start again socially.

1. Get Your Mind Ready

Many people believe that being fun or over-confident are the keys to having lots of friends. But this is not always the case. Sometimes, the things that keep you friendless may be limiting factors you have in your head. For example - you might believe that nobody likes you or that you suck at making friends.

depressed woman

Research by Lisa Firestone found that the most common critical thought people have towards themselves is that of not being liked other people – they feel they don’t relate to those around them.

You must rid yourself of these beliefs. You will free your mind and making new friends will become easy.

First, you need to know that there is the conscious and unconscious mind. The conscious mind makes decisions while the unconscious controls actions that are second nature. The unconscious does not think on its own – it takes orders from the conscious.

So if you tell yourself you are a failure, your unconscious will believe that and will not prepare you for any challenging situations. Likewise, if you tell yourself that you need to make friends, the unconscious will automatically put you in a friend-making state, helping you stay motivated towards this goal.

Research by the University of Alberta proved that the unconscious mind can be a great motivator towards your long-term goals.

You can trick the unconscious mind to help you in making friends by telling yourself positive affirmations. Here are some examples:

  • I can have lots of friends because I am an interesting person.

  • I am confident and get on well with others.

  • People like me and enjoy my presence.

With such positivity, you will build your confidence to approach potential friends. And several studies indicate that people find confidence attractive.

2. Be the Friend You Want

Often times, we complain of being misunderstood by our friends, and yet, we never stop to think if we commit the same mistakes. We like to be treated better by others but we do not treat others the same way.

A certain survey, for example, showed that 30% of teens keep their problems to themselves just because they feel misunderstood. A similar study by Relate indicates that one in ten people does not have a close friend and that one in five feels unloved. Usually, these problems are because we do not relate to our friends in a way they would expect. Or sometimes, our friends misinterpret our actions.

In the book titled No One Understands You and What To Do About It, Heidi Grant Halvorson narrates a story of someone named Tim. Recently employed as a manager of a certain company, Tim tried to communicate that he valued the input of his subordinates. So during meetings, he would put on what he called an “active-listening face.”

But after several meetings, one of his team members gathered the courage to ask him why he always seemed angry when someone was talking.

The thing is we all want to have friends who understand us. You may fail to connect with new friends because they may feel misunderstood by you. Or you may be the one feeling misunderstood. Therefore, you must pay attention to the signals you give others. In addition, you must strive to treat others with love and care. Make them feel understood and likable.

pinky-swear

Think of how you would like others to treat you and treat others in the same way. Here are some things to get you started:

  • Do not rush to judge other people.

  • Treat others with respect.

  • Listen to other people’s ideas.

  • Respect other people’s privacy.

  • Treat everyone fairly.

  • Encourage people to live a fulfilling life.

When you become the kind of friend people want to have, you will notice that keeping friends or attracting new ones will be easy. People will respect you and will want to keep your around at all times.

Og MandinoAuthor

Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness, and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.

3. Go After Your Passions

Ask most people how you can make friends, and they will tell you to ‘get out there.’

But is this practical advice?

Friendships started this way usually have a chemistry that does not feel right. Instead of chasing people, chase your passions. If you love music, join a music class and you’ll get to meet new people. Chances are that you won’t meet people with similar interests at a random party. That’s why approaching people at the bar won’t work nine times out of ten.

volleyball-fun

Scientists from the University of Southampton, Royal Holloway, University of London, and the Institute of Zoology at London Zoo found that strong friendships are formed based on having similar interests. They also said that as your interests change, you go from clique to clique.

During your leisure time, you are most likely to have a better chance of making friends than when working. That’s because you will be more relaxed.

Consider this study:

In 1985, 50% of Americans said they had a close friend at work. In 2004, this had fallen to 30%.

Meaning?

We now hang out less with those we work with. Although there are many reasons for this, one of them is that we are too busy at work to have time to develop a relationship.

However, there is another benefit that comes with chasing your passions – you will feel happy and fulfilled with your life. You will not feel like you are draining yourself, which may result from chasing people.

4. How well do you ‘know thyself’?

There are over 16 personality types. These differ in how they interact or make friends. Before you start making friends, it’s helpful to understand your personality type. You will find friend-making easier thereafter as you will have a better understanding of yourself.

For example: INFJs are the type of friends who encourage you to live your life the way you want. They are supportive and always there for you. Additionally, they are very good listeners.

To them, the number of their friends does not matter – what matters is the quality of those friendships. However, INFJs have a fear that their friends may betray them. Even when it comes to romantic relationships, they do not like to settle for whatever comes their way.

They value their privacy highly, keeping their lives mostly under lock and key. Although they can be communicative, they like to have alone-time to mentally recharge themselves.

ENFJs, on the other hand, are extroverts. They have amazing people skills and can blend into different social situations without difficulty. They are very supportive and will seem to never get tired of listening to you talk. They see themselves as helpers and enablers, giving so much of themselves to others.

ENFJs have really good communication skills and are fun to be around with. However, they can be controlling and manipulative. And they are critical of those different from them.

These are just a few examples of the different personalities out there and how they are like as friends. As you have seen, you too need to know your personality type. This will allow you to approach different social situations without overwhelming yourself.

Toni ColletteActress

The better you know yourself, the better your relationship with the rest of the world.

Your personality represents who you are. So instead of fighting it, work with it.

Here are a few resources that can help you determine your personality type:

16Personalities

My Personality Test

SeeMyPersonality

Humanmetrics

Sidenote: The personality type tests are a tool to understand yourself. But they are not scientific and cent percent accurate. Consider them as starting points and rely on your personal observations from there.

5. Last piece of ‘strange’ advice...

Be happy. When you are happy, you become a people magnet. A study by the School of Psychology at the University of Aberdeen found that we are attracted to smiling faces that look directly at us rather than non-smiling faces that look directly at us.

people-happy

Happiness is like an air-bone disease. It spreads to those around you. To prove this, a study consisting of more than 4,700 people followed for over 20 years discovered that people who are happy can make those around to be happy as well. This happiness can affect others for as long as a year.

Everyone wants to be happy. Unfortunately, life is so difficult that only one in three Americans reports being very happy. For these people, having a friend that makes them happy may be a lucky break in a stressful world. And they will hold on to such a friend for as long as it takes.

Thankfully, it is easy to maintain a happy life. Here is a short video explaining how one can do it.

When you are happy, you become a people magnet.

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Conclusion

It is a fact that advancements in technology have broken most of the relationships we had with friends. However, humans have always been social beings. And technology is not going to change that any time soon. Therefore, you must work on making new friends to replace those you’ve lost.

The one thing most people forget is that friendships are like any job. If you want to be good at them, you must dedicate time and effort working on them. The twenties is a great period to make friends who will be with you for your lifetime. So don’t waste this opportunity.

Do you think you have enough friends in your life? If not, what steps have you taken to have more friends?