Your 20s are the decade in which you lay down the foundation for the rest of your adult life. After all, it is within the 20s that most people have their first tastes of adulthood, from getting hired for their first “adult” jobs to facing other “adult” commitments and responsibilities such as buying a home, getting married, investing, and more.
Your 20s matter and the way you spend your own will be reflected back to you in your 30s (and beyond). While it may be daunting to think that a mere 10 years of early adulthood is so fundamental to the rest of your life, it is also an incredibly exciting opportunity. Because it’s in your 20s you can start to get clear about the kind of life you want to live and make an actionable plan to start living in that way.
Not everyone takes advantage of their 20s in the ways they should, however. But you still can. As such, here are 12 things to start doing in your 20s if you want be ahead of everyone else in your 30s.
1. Learn to live within your means.
Be honest with yourself about what is a need and what is a want. There is room for both, of course, but prioritizing the things that are absolutely imperative over the more frivolous and unnecessary will save you a lot of money and stress in the long run. So, make a personalized budget, allot room for saving, and then stick to it.
By creating a solid financial foundation now, you leave more room for flexibility in the future in case the unexpected arises such as losing a job, moving to a new city, quitting the job that’s making you miserable, etc.
2. Identify what your values are and design your life around them.
To live your most authentic life, you need to design your life around your values. In other words, you need to lead a lifestyle that prioritizes those things you care about the most. This will make you feel secure and most like yourself.
3. Develop various routines.
Not only will this help keep you organized but it will also streamline your life and make more room for joy, adventure, and curiosity. Implement a morning routine, a payday routine, a nighttime routine, a Saturday morning errand routine, etc. You will feel far more grounded in doing so.
4. Take! Care! Of! Your! Health!!!
Make the dentist appointment. Eat in a way that makes sense for your body. Exercise regularly. Find a primary care provider. Go to therapy. Your health, both mental and physical, matters. Take care of it.
5. Make a commitment to lifelong learning.
Learning doesn’t need to cease after schooling ends. Make a commitment to continue learning about the world around you. Keep up with the news. Crack open books about subjects that always interested you but you never had time to read before. Make your own curriculum regarding psychology, philosophy, politics, whatever. The point is to keep your mind sharp by continuing to challenge it by learning new things.
6. Focus on building healthy relationships.
Relationships are the biggest indicator of well-being. In fact, research has shown that loneliness has been linked to poor health outcomes while healthy and fulfilling relationships were associated with more positive outlooks on life. As the saying goes, you are who you surround yourself with, so make sure those people are good for you.
7. Forgive your past self.
You did the best you could with the information you had at the time. Stop living in the past, stop berating yourself for mistakes, and move on. Forgiveness is freeing.
8. Challenge your belief systems.
Make a list of your belief systems and pinpoint when you picked up these beliefs and from where. Afterward, determine whether these belief systems actually serve you (or if they’re actually holding you back).
9. If you love someone, tell them.
Stop being so afraid of rejection. Stop worrying if the feelings are reciprocated. If you love someone, tell them. If you like someone, tell them. If you want to spend more time with someone, TELL THEM. The point is to honor what you feel and embrace vulnerability because it is in doing so that true connection blooms.
10. Allow space for boredom.
Boredom is a gift if you allow it to be because it is within boredom where curiosity has the chance to remind you of all those things you were once interested in before life got in the way. Pick up the half-read books, finish that screenplay you’ve always wanted to write, or try a new type of exercise. Approach boredom as the opportunity it truly is and watch your world expand as a result.
11. Confront your mortality.
You will die one day. This is the only certainty in life, which means you need to start living the life you want now. You are the youngest you’ll ever be again at this exact second. What are you going to do about this fact? How are you going to harness your now?
12. Forget the notion that your 20s are supposed to be the best years of your life; they most definitely are not.
While your 20s are a defining period in your life and have many fun moments, your 20s can also be also incredibly difficult, awkward, lonely, and painful. Remember that many of your best days still lay ahead of you. Your 20s matter, but they aren’t everything and they certainly aren’t the best years of your life. Consider this a good thing.