Life is short and before you know it, some of the best years of your life will be over. Your 20s are supposed to be some of the best years of your life. But for some reason, most of us can’t look back at that golden decade and boast no regrets. If you know the best moves to make in your 20s, you could set yourself up for the most unforgettable years of your life.
When you are in your 20s, you don’t have any hindsight to fall back on when you need it. You have all the freedom in the world, but little experience to make the most out of it. But what if you could turn the tide in your favor and tap every ounce of joy, freedom, courage and vitality out of these life-changing years? What if there was a way to make these years steer the right course of the rest of your life?
Unfortunately, there is no formula you can follow to ensure that your 20s and beyond are spotless, regretless and perfect. However, there are a couple of things you can do make lemonade out of the lemons that life gives you. Here are 20 guidelines to follow to avoid some of the pitfalls that steal the joy from your glory years.
1. Speak Up When Something Isn’t Working
When you are in your 20s, pride often leads to misery. You might find yourself in a “my-way-or-the-highway” situation and push people away from you. Nobody likes a stubborn person, especially when that person doesn’t have a clue. During your 20s, you could feel more prone to stick to your guns. This is mainly because you feel you need to make a name for yourself.
But oftentimes, you don’t have a clue, so a bit of humility will go a long way in showing others you have the courage to admit when something isn’t working. There is no shame in saying you are wrong, even though it might damage your ego a bit. This applies to all areas of your life, be it social, work or your love life.
Bending the knee will show people you don’t just care about yourself. It will show them you are willing to take them into consideration and ultimately draw them closer to you. It might seem like a paradox but having the courage to admit when something isn’t working will encourage others to listen to your suggestions in future.
2. Commit to What is Working
This might be one of the hardest things you will ever do, but in the end, if you are right, you will reap the rewards. Nothing that is worthwhile in this life is easy. And standing up for something that is right in the face of adversity will test your resolve like few other things. The greatest minds are persistent and tenacious, even when others call them crazy at times.
Einstein said all great ideas seem crazy at first. Even today, people still regard the crazy-haired scientist as one of the smartest people who ever lived. The great thing about your 20s is that you have so much to give. You still can get up when you were knocked down.
That eagerness to prove something slowly fades away as you get older. And you tend to risk less and stand back more. The world is full of cynics and people who don’t want you to succeed. Maybe it’s because they feel like failures and don’t want others to succeed. Whatever the reason, you have the power to stand for what you believe in.
In the end, you could be in the position to say, “I told you so,” not that gloating is the goal of your commitment. Although it may be satisfying to prove everyone wrong, you will lose many friends if you make that your goal in life.
3. Ask Yourself the Hard Questions
Introspection is one of the greatest tools to live without regrets. You need to ask yourself the hard questions and answer truthfully. If you were to stop growing tomorrow, would the person in the mirror be who you want to be for the rest of your life? Your 20s are defining years and it is so easy to become someone you don’t want to be.
It is also easy to forget about your noble ideals and goals and settle for second best. It is also easy to change into someone you don’t even recognize. For this reason, it is important to stop every now and then take a hard look at yourself. This is one of the best moves to make in your 20s, so you’ll stay on track.
You may want to justify the look of the stranger in the mirror, but you don’t have to. That is one of the perks of being in your 20s.You can still make a change for the better. Life gets busy and you could get sucked into a lifestyle you don’t particularly like.
Complacency is your enemy and the downfall of many. Whenever you get to a point where you feel this is not you, stop and change course.
4. Decide What Doesn’t Matter to You
Many people go through their lives chasing things that don’t matter. They look at other people’s lives and want to base their success and happiness on them. Instead of trying to figure out what matters, take a different route and decide what doesn’t matter. As soon as you know that, you will be able to invest your time and money in the things that matter.
One of the right moves to make in your 20s is to focus on the important things to you. Chasing money and acquiring possessions is fruitless. You will never have enough and materials things can never bring the same joy your loved ones can. Instead of keeping up with the Joneses, decide what matters – and what doesn’t.
Push the rest aside and concentrate on what makes you happy and feeling fulfilled. No one is going to live your life for you. Only you can decide what is important to you and what is not. Figure out what you value and go for it. If it means spending more time with friends and family, do so. Whatever it is, make it your own.
5. Take It Easy on the Social Media
How would things be today if social media didn’t exist? Would we still be obsessed with trying to outdo other people? Have you ever thought about how you would live your life if social media didn’t exist? Would you continually measure your life against your social media friends?
Some people think social media should be called anti-social media. Many people measure the success of their lives to the people they follow on social media. They look at their holiday pics and the adventures they go on and think that their lives suck in comparison. In truth, you don’t always see the true lives of the people you follow. You may only see the bits that seem exciting.
Think about whether you would do things differently if you didn’t have social media. Just live your life unedited. Take the good with the bad. The thing that social media does is paint a false picture. All you see is the good stuff and you never get to learn from the bad things.
People tend to take social media profiles as the whole truth, but in reality, they are like a movie preview. If you were to see the whole movie, you might find that it wasn’t all that, after all. So one of the smartest moves to make in your 20s is to avoid measuring it against social media posts.
6. Give Up the Gossip
The adage, “If you don’t have something nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all,” is true. Gossiping about the lives of others is not going to make yours any better. Most people gossip because they are unhappy with their own lives. Judging other people is like a bad habit and a virus.
If you expose yourself to people who gossip, you will find yourself doing the same. But what does that say about your own life? Is it so bad that you only find joy in the misery of others? Luckily there is an antidote to this life sucking sickness. Find something to talk about other than people who don’t matter.
At first, it could be difficult, but after a while, you can change your outlook on life. This is a good space to be in because you can do something about it. You are in your 20s and have your whole life ahead of you. Before you know it, you won’t have to dissect the lives of others, because you know your life is awesome.
7. Don’t Sweat the Petty Stuff
Have you ever wondered how much time and energy you spend on the inane things in life? What compels us to fixate on things like a perfect waistline? Nobody is going to stand at your funeral one day and say how to fit you always looked. No one is going to give a eulogy about your beautiful five-bedroom house or that you always had the new iPhone.
However, you don’t want to throw caution to the wind and let go. Finding a healthy balance is one of the wisest moves to make in your 20s. No one should live without ambition, but your ambitions shouldn’t rule your every waking hour. In the end, people are not going to remember you for what you owned or how you looked. They are going to remember the type of person you were.
Paying too much attention to the inane things takes your eye off the things that matter. It lets you create an identity around your physique and your possessions. These pointless things you spend so much time, money and energy on can disappear overnight. What will your identity be then? So do a check to see if you would be the same person if you lost all those things you spend so much precious time on.
8. Cut Yourself Some Slack
Ambition can sometimes do more harm than good. During your 20s, you may feel like you have to prove yourself and make your mark. You often tend to be hard on yourself to get ahead of the game but at your own expense. Before you know it, you are a burned out 30-year-old and you wonder where the last decade went.
This is supposed to be the time of your life, but the pressures of performing can get the better of you. Instead, cut yourself some slack and enjoy the time you are in. If you rush through it, you are sure to miss out on some amazing experiences. You don’t want to enter your 30s wishing you had more fun. Hard work is a good thing, but you must level it out and take a break from time to time.
You need to sit back and say to yourself that whatever you did, you did your best. There is no need to sell yourself short or push yourself beyond what is healthy. Take life one day at a time, because you will never be able to relive these years. You will never have the same amount of energy and lust for life like you do now. Don’t waste it by being hard on yourself and always thinking you could have done more.
9. Read, Read, Read
Reading is one of the best moves to make in your 20s and not just the newspaper. So, read something that will enrich your life, not make you worry about things you have no control over. It might not seem like the best advice ever, but the benefits of reading outweigh the cons by far. Developing a love of reading makes you a lot smarter though. Your mind is a muscle, so you need to exercise it.
Apart from the cognitive benefits, reading is also an antidepressant. Taking up an inspiring novel can often lift you out of a dark place. It sparks your own creativity and you become the director of your own movie. Have you ever wondered why the book is always better than the movie? It is because you create the characters and the scenes.
Someone else might have written down the words, but you get to color it in. There aren’t many things out there that can take your mind off your daily struggles than a good read. Whatever tickles your fancy, immerse yourself in the world you can create.
10. Practice Kindness
It is no secret the world has become a selfish place where people trample on one another to get ahead. It seems surreal when someone is sincerely nice to someone else. But, when someone is nice, you tend to go the extra mile for that person. The truth is, it doesn’t cost you anything to just smile.
The world is so full of nastiness, some people need to learn how to be nice to others. It is some people’s default to be rude for no reason. Nowadays it takes a conscious effort to be genuinely nice to people. But you may find it will open some doors and take you further than you could ever imagine. In fact, taking other people into consideration is probably the ultimate life hack.
It might seem cliché but giving is better than receiving. There is something about being nice to someone else that makes you feel good about yourself. Sometimes you just don’t feel like being nice to people, especially when you’ve had a bad day. However, it is in those times you can cultivate a positive nature and it is infectious. People will notice your sincerity and repay you in kind, as well.
11. Work at Your Relationship
For most of us, there comes a time when we want to settle down with “the one.” For most people, this happens while they are in their 20s. To be in a lifelong relationship is probably one of the greatest moves to make in your 20s, but remember, nothing worthwhile is easy.
Somehow, Hollywood has painted a rosy picture of what it takes to be in a so-called forever relationship. Truth be told, it is hard work and can easily get stale. On the flipside, if you work hard at your relationship with your significant other, you will never be lonely. You will never face a challenge alone and you will always have someone you can share your joy with.
This lifelong relationship is not something you happen to stumble upon. It doesn’t just happen. Some people say there is no such a person as “the one.” There is a wise saying, “There is no perfect person for anyone, but everyone has someone that they can love perfectly.”
People will always disappoint you, especially the ones who are closest to you. You need to remember you will also do the disappointing sometimes. Be open to forgiveness and be willing to stick your pride in your pocket. Remember, you aren’t in your relationship just for yourself.
12. Be Content with Life
There are few people who walk out of high school or college and into a cushy high paying job. When you are in your 20s, you tend to want to live a bit higher than your means. But this is the quickest way to get into debt and sink into a never-ending hole of owing money. Instead, be content with what you have and know you are not in a bad spot. This is another one of the strategic moves to make in your 20s you won’t regret.
As soon as you get to a point where you are fine with whatever you are earning, you will experience financial freedom like few people have. More money doesn’t mean less stress. On the contrary, many people who earn big bucks are often in major financial holes. And because they are so used to the high life, they find it extremely difficult to tone their lifestyles down. They are unstable in their spending and live above what they can afford.
Yes, you should have ambitions to earn more money. Set your target as high as you want them, but when you reach your goals, stay there for a while. As soon as you start feeling that itch to get more, ask yourself whether you are content or whether you are chasing money again.
13. Create Lasting Good Habits
This might seem like a strange tip, but accomplishments are like quick fixes. Sure, you might feel like a million bucks if you achieve something great, but the feeling doesn’t last. Just ask yourself how many times you bought something thinking it would bring you some sort of joy. Before you know it, the feeling is gone, and you feel the same way you did before the purchase.
Accomplishments are like that. People chase after them in the hopes of feeling lasting fulfillment. The truth is, once you achieve something, it is over. You will soon start to look at the next thing you can achieve. The problem with achievement chasers is that they always end up feeling empty afterward.
Creating lasting habits is more important and also sustainable. You will never grow tired of them because the end goal is not to achieve but to maintain. Life is not a sprint from one point to the next. It is often the long-distance runners that get the most out of life.
Creating lasting habits will always give you something to live for and to look forward to. So instead of chasing achievements, chase more sustainable habits and work at perfecting those habits. Sticking to positive habits are one of the most sustainable moves to make in your 20s right up to your 90s.
14. Don’t Burn Bridges
Life has a funny way of making U-turns. It often takes you back to places and situations where you thought you would never return. However, never is a long time and you don’t know what lies in your future. You might have the best-laid plans and a clear destination, but you have little control over what happens from the outside.
Burning bridges because you feel that you may never return is risky. Whatever your reason is for leaving a place, you may want to leave with the relationships intact. Going out all guns blazing will often come back to haunt you. Pride is a terrible thing and if the need arises, you want to return with your head held high.
It is never easy to go back to a place when you don’t want to. But life doesn’t always work out like that. For this reason, it is always a good idea to bow out of a relationship, job or a friendship with grace and humility. At the time, you may feel angry or upset with everyone. But taking the high road is one of the most admirable moves to make in your 20s.
15. Always Seek the Truth
There are few things in life more disappointing than realizing that you have been faithfully holding on to a lie. Regardless of the form or severity of the lie, it’s hard to learn the truth when you aren’t prepared for it. You base so much on the lie, when the rug gets pulled out from underneath your feet, you may feel betrayed. People are fragile creatures and trust is extremely important to everyone.
For this reason, it is important to ask the difficult, uncomfortable questions. At the time, you might not want to know the answer, but the truth will set you free. The truth is almost never an easy pill to swallow, but it beats the sucker punch of discovering it by accident.
When you ask for the truth, you are at least prepared for it to some degree. The blow might still hurt, but you will find you can deal with it much quicker. It like ripping off a band-aid. The initial sting is severe, but it only lasts for a second. There is a weighty burden to carry if you hold on to secrets and lies. So, being honest and always seeking the truth is one of the best moves to make in your 20s.
16. Meet Your Unmet Needs
You may not know it, but your bad habits are a symptom of an unmet need you might not be aware of. The sooner you figure out what that need is, the quicker you can start addressing those needs in a healthy way. If there is a single tip that trumps all the other moves to make in your 20s, then it is this: Bad habits steal from you and keep you back in many areas of your life.
It could be an addiction you are fighting or a time-thieving habit that keeps you procrastinating. In the end, you will go through life with a heavy weight attached to your ankle. There is hope, however. Bad habits are just symptoms of a void you need to fill. You can either choose to fill the void with a fruitless, bad habit or seek out a lasting, healthy alternative.
A bad habit is like junk food. The smell is amazing, and it is tasty, but junk food is poison to your body. The healthy alternative is like a gourmet meal. It smells good, tastes amazing and even the feel of it is exquisite. People all have certain needs and wants. So figuring out how to fulfill those needs in a healthy way will release you from the bonds of your next quick fix.
17. Skip on the Blame Game
Have you ever heard of the Johari window? It says every human has areas known to themselves but unknown to others. They also have areas known to others, but unknown to themselves. Then there are areas that everybody knows and areas that nobody knows. Blaming other people for things is often the result of being blind to one area. However, other people have a clear view of that area in your life.
To put it another way, what you love about other people is often what you love about yourself, and what you hate in others is often something that you can’t see in your own life. There is no easy way to slice this pie. It is hard to do some introspection and see where you are at fault. It is also tough to realize you might be the one to blame for something.
But often the thing you want to blame other people for is a part of yourself that you don’t want to acknowledge. However, if you can accept you aren’t perfect, you will be able to become the person you want to be. One of the top moves to make in your 20s starts by looking in the mirror.
18. Seek Your Purpose
Everyone seeks to fulfill some type of purpose. All of us have a burning desire to do something and to feel important in some way. But if you think your purpose is to have fun all the time, you have a rude awakening coming. One of the most satisfying moves to make in your 20s is to find your purpose.
Pleasure is not the thing that is going to pull you out of an unbearable or uncomfortable situation. It might make it a bit bearable for a while and take the edge off, but it is ultimately just a cushion for the fall. The purpose is the driving force that compels you to go forward in spite of pain or suffering.
This might sound a bit heavy, but to sugar coat it won’t help you either. Maybe you have already had your fair share of fruitless pleasures and found they don’t keep you satisfied for long. The purpose is what makes discomfort worth it. Seeking purpose rather than comfort gives you something to live for other than yourself.
Don’t confuse purpose with selfish ambition. As soon as you discover a purpose for your existence, you will find it aims outward and seeks to help others. If comfort is your first virtue, you will go at it alone and never know why you always dissatisfied with life.
19. Home is Where You Make It
Apart from trying to find purpose in life, most people yearn for a place to belong. Purpose and belonging go hand in hand and one will always complement the other. In your 20s, you may feel the urge to explore, see places and experience things. And that is a wonderful urge to have.
However, exploring should not be the only thing you chase after. If you have opportunities to explore, use them, but make sure you have a place you can call home. No matter how long you spend in another country, or how great a place may be, it will never take the place of home.
One of the smartest moves to make in your 20s is to decide where home is and build on it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be your home country. The only thing that is important is that you find a place and make it home. What and where that looks like is up to you, but one thing is certain, there is no place like home.
There is nothing that can compare to the support and the love that you feel when you are home. No one understands and accepts you as the people back home. They are the ones who will carry and care for you when things look tough. Home isn’t necessarily a house you own, but it always has people who care for you.
20. Learn to Live in the Now
Too many people live in the fear of tomorrow and are debilitated by the things that are not even there. They tend to spend all their lives in preparation for the “what ifs” that may not ever arrive. Some people waste money and energy on an unknown future, so they tend to neglect the here and now. So, the final tip from this list of moves to make in your 20’s is learning how to be happy where you are at right now.
Learn to accept and live in the now and take every day as it comes. Don’t worry about tomorrow because you can’t predict the future. Instead, spend your energy on dealing with the present. There is nothing you can do to assure a certain outcome. Life happens and can wreck your plans in an instant.
Rather, practice being happy and content in the space where you are now. There is no relationship, job, amount of money or level of success that will make you happy if you don’t decide it is good for today. You cannot store up your happiness to use at the time of your choosing. So use it where it is, otherwise, you will never experience true happiness.
You have no guarantees of a tomorrow, never mind a healthy one. That doesn’t mean you can throw caution to the wind and not plan for the next day. It merely means you shouldn’t spend your present days in worry of the distant future.
These 20 moves to make in your 20s will help you pave a bright future for yourself. You may not own a crystal ball, but being mindful when you are starting out will take you far. So, pick one of these and apply it to your life each day.