With a little over a year left in the decade of my 20’s, I sat down and really evaluated some of the life lessons I have learned and thought I would share them with you, my peers. While we are products of our environments and my life experiences have been different than yours, I am quite confident that everyone can read and find similarities as to what they have experienced in their “prime” years.
So let’s not waste any more time here. Submitted for the approval of the millennial society, I call this article, “10 Important Life Lessons I Learned In My 20’s.”
1. Focus on Your Dreams, Without Laying in Bed
If you have read “10 Character Traits Highly Successful People Share” you may have heard me mention to focus on your dreams without laying in beds. In short its self explanatory, go out live life and achieve your goals.
However in a deeper understanding the emphasis is directed to the bed which reflects all the wasted time and opportunities so many people have squandered by being so sheltered and afraid to grow. I can attest to the feeling as I myself have been victim of my own insecurities.
I truly used to believe people fell into certain roles. Each individual was given their own lot in life and expected to endure. It was not until I was in my mid 20’s, that I began witnessing those around me achieving the goals they had set out for themselves; becoming who and what they wanted to be.
After some networking, I began to find a common theme that propelled them to the level of success they had achieved, and that was unrelenting dedication and hard work. “I didn’t get to where I am today by watching reruns of Friends or by playing Call of Duty. I got here by putting the remotes down, setting goals, putting in the long demanding painstakingly tedious hours and holding myself accountable for each and every goal I set. And of course it didn’t happen overnight”. Said every single successful person I’ve spoken to.
In my early 20’s I had switched from job to job because I was not happy with the lack of growth in my career. I didn’t realize at first that I was making excuses for myself and that I was mostly to blame for a stagnant career. I was more concerned about what the night would bring rather that what extra time and hours I could put in to increase my sales.
Hindsight as they say is 20/20 and upon realizing my own faults, I started writing down my goals and figured out what it was I really wanted to do with my life. It was an easy decision when I really thought about it. I would rather spend my time in this life being happy with what I do and not confined to the prisons of the mundane expectations of work.
2. Criticism is your best friend not your biggest crutch
Being told your way of doing things is incorrect can be disheartening for sure. Don’t take criticism personally as it is only meant to better you as an individual. Criticism has made me into the proud and confident individual I am today. Often in my career I saw professionals being belittled for their approach to a customer or their reaction to another customer and how they could never close a deal.
Were they really being belittled? Or did it only look like that from a far because they did not respect nor respond to criticism as I have. Criticism is a form of communication if you will. It grants us an opportunity to improve in areas of winning over an audience or a consumer when previous methods were ineffective. However we must be open and receptive to it and it must come in the form of a constructive nature and not demeaning.
The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again the same way but expecting different results. I know that if I attempt to approach a girl the same way and get rejected each time then I must take advice or constructive criticism from a person who has success in such departments. To continue in unsuccessful methods would result in being single and lonely forever.
3. Relationships will not last forever so don’t hold on too long
How many times have we fallen in love? I used to believe there was one true love for everyone out there. If that was the case I wouldn’t be able to say I’ve loved and I’ve lost too plenty to count. The reality is very few relationships last; mainly only the good ones do.
Our biggest fault many a time is that we are scared of what life will be like once our relationship is over because we have become so comfortable in that relationship. We have broken down barriers built countless memories and have shared in hardships together.
Sometime it can be painful to go through that over and over again. In most cases it is worth it to let go early before regret and resent begin to mold. Cherish the good times you shared and remain on favorable terms.
“A wise man once told me that holding a grudge is like letting somebody just live inside of your head rent free.” – Royce da 5’9′
Let us not stop here, as even friendly relationships do not last. In high school I had a group of 15 solid – for what I believed to be – lifelong friends. As we graduated and parted our separate ways, we remained in contact and rendezvoused for the holidays for awhile. Yet, as years passed, less and less of the group would attend each function.
Whether they formed new more personal and intimate relations or fell victim to addictions, amassed great fortunes or moved to other locations, we never managed to keep the bond. We may converse on occasion or plan the “reunions” our relationships are never going to be the same as they once were, and that’s expected. Why?
4. People Changed and So Did I
No one remains the same forever. There may be remnants of a past we cherish and choose to hold on to longer than we should, but in the end our experiences force us to adapt and change. The things I enjoyed when I were twelve were different when I were eighteen. Those at eighteen in no way give me interest at twenty-eight. So an obvious pattern occurs and likely when I reach the age of thirty-five, many of what I hold interest in today will no longer be the case at that time.
When I was sixteen I entertained the idea of entering politics. My overall ambition was to become the POTUS by the election of 2040. I believed with a proper platform and a middle class persona I could speak out for the common man and win.As I have matured, my overall ambitions have matured and evolved with it. I do not regret the changes made because as stated times change, people change, and so did I. Change is the only constant in this world.
5. College was a waste
How many people when graduating college go into the workforce and realize that finding the job you want is not a easy as they told you it would be in high school. It seems you need five years experience for everything nowadays, even entry level positions which doesn’t make sense. Where did we have the time between high school and college to garner five years of experience?
Adding insult to injury is the fact that upon graduation, statistics state you will be about $26,000 in the hole. With a debt that high in your early twenties, it will be harder to purchase a new vehicle or an apartment for your own. Welcome to adulting.
6. Age becomes less of a factor in many facets
Growing up, my mother harped on me and my sister to respect our elders. Treat those folk as you would want your grandmother to be treated was the exact phrase. Knowing my grandmother to be a sweet old frail Italian woman, the impression was ingrained in me to extend the same courtesy I wanted my grandmother to receive.
Then I entered my twenties, I realized that it was not just old people I should treat with respect but all individuals. We never know what any one person is going through and to extend an equal level of respect to some one you may not know can change that person’s day for the best.
In contrast even the elderly can be grouchy and unapologetic whom warrant no such courtesy. If we are all about equality than ones seniority does not excuse poor behavior. I’ve learned to hold all people accountable for the way they treat others.
7. The world is not here to comfort you and it doesn’t care
Who hasn’t had their fair share of struggles in life. In the technological social media age we gravitate towards Facebook and Twitter as our outlet to vent our frustrations with life. I have absolutely been guilty of it.
While you may receive a couple kind words of encouragement, in the grand scheme of things who really gives a shit about what you are going through as everyone is going through their own issues. The world is not going to slow down and people are not going to give up on their dreams and ambitions because you are having a bad day and that’s rightfully so.
It is not the rest of the world’s responsibility to make sure you are living good or that you are happy. The only responsibility this world owes to us is to give us a place to thrive in under our own due diligence, and even that we take advantage of.
We as people need to learn to tighten our boot straps, stand tall in the face of adversity and attack our problems head on because our biggest enemy is ourselves. Only we can overcome the constant criticisms we berate ourselves with on a daily basis. Learning this truth has been one of the most defining moments in my life because it instilled in me the idea of self-reliance, integrity, and the pursuit of passion.
8. Start saving right away. Invest early and wisely
Life is short and time is money. We are always taught to live in the moment for the sanctity of our minds. Not necessarily saying this is bad advice, but its incomplete.
Hopefully one day all of you reading can live a life where money is of no concern. The reality is that you can, with grit and a positive mindset. However some people do not have the will to do so and are slaves to the 9-5 construct.
If you are reading this you are probably still in your 20s so it is not too late. Set up a 401k and invest in some safe securities and bonds. Low risk investments wont typically produce high returns but it will teach you how to hold on to your money for the long run.
If the cost of living continues to rise, we need to be prepared to sustain our lifestyles and enjoy the finer things in life that cost little to no money. Money that we do earn should be shelved in cases of emergency such as sickness or natural disasters that affect our living and or transportation. Or my favorite idea…
9. Experiences trump materials
You can always purchase a new TV and hook your PlayStation 4 up to it and have a great time playing Call of Duty. But you can also always take a trip to the Mediterranean and sail the Amalfi coast or take a wildlife safari run through South Africa. The difference is how you view your dollar and personal gratifications.
The immediate thought I’m sure most of you are toying with is the cost comparison. The former will roughly cost you a few hundred dollars while the latter could cost a couple thousand. What we should consider is length of gratification as well as its height.
We will agree that in a couple years, if following existing trends, PlayStation 5 will be available for purchase and will eventually require the PlayStation 4 users to upgrade to keep up with “the times.” You as the consumer are now trapped into the cycle; albeit 6-7 year spreads are pretty wide but a methodical cycle nonetheless.
Playing Madden online is fun, no denying that, but what is the long term benefit in the way of your success in life. High gratification, low long term ROI. In contrast, the experience of travel and seeking opportunities delivers a more profound gratification by expanding horizons and introducing your mind to new cultures.
These are the lifelong impactful memories we should seek. High gratification, high long term ROI. Lastly, as written in 5 Reasons Travel is Good For Your Health Both In Body And Mind those who Travel increase the likelihood of being successful in one’s career.
10. Get enough sleep
Absolutely essential for a healthy mind, need I say more? Not to be a cop out but this is common sense. Sleep is important as it gives our bodies and minds time to unwind from a long week.
Creating a consistent sleep schedule is the best way to plan your day as routine creates a more stable environment for people and increases likelihood of success. Traditional estimates suggest adults should aim for about 7-9 hours of sleep per day. The best way to ensure a peaceful uninterrupted sleep session, stay away from nicotine, caffeine, sugars and high stress physical activity couple hours before your planned sleep. Plan your sleep cycle to occur at the same time each night with particular rituals to train your body to recognize sleep time at the introduction of those certain queues.
My 20’s have been the most informative of my years. This is when I had really discovered who I am and what I want to do with this life of mine. As cycles go I will learn an equal if not greater amount of revelations in my 30’s, but those opportunities have only been presented by the effects of experiences and the acquisition of knowledge from my 20’s.
Thank you for reading a little bit about my revelations. I would love to hear some of the life lessons you all learned in this crazy thing we call adulting. Share your experiences with the rest of the community in the comments below.