I turned the big 3-0 this week and am excited about the great things in store for me in this upcoming decade. I also took time this week to reflect on the life lessons learned in my 20’s. I came up with this list of the 12 most valuable lessons for your 20’s. Check out the article (it’s reposted below) and let me know your thoughts. Thanks to everyone for the overwhelming amount of birthday well wishes, I’m very grateful and appreciate everyone that has been a part of my life journey so far. Here’s to many more great years!!
12 of The Most Important Life Lessons To Learn Before 30
Originally featured on LinkedIn Pulse
This week I celebrated my dirty thirty and welcomed a new year, a new decade and new opportunities. As I prepare for my 30’s I wanted to take some time to reflect on the past decade. Looking back, I realize that I barely made it into my 20’s and was on the brink of completely screwing up my life and going down the wrong path. Fortunately, I started making better decisions and surrounded myself with the right people that poured into my life. I’m very grateful to those that have helped me on my journey (you included!) and admit that I wouldn’t be where I am today without their love, support and the valuable lessons they taught me along the way.
Although, I don’t regret my past I now understand that life is indeed a cruel teacher, she loves to give you the test first and the lesson later. So that you’re best prepared for your own test, here’s my cheat sheet with 12 of the most important lessons for surviving and thriving in your 20’s and beyond.
1) Do what you love for a living
I witnessed too many of my friends regret pursuing a degree or a career in a field they didn’t really like because: they thought the money was good, they liked the prestige that came with the job or because they were “pressured” by their family and friends. In my 20’s I learned that the one life we have to live shouldn’t be spent living someone else’s life.
Chances are that early on in your career you’ll have to do some work that you aren’t necessarily thrilled by for meager pay but that’s ok! Just make sure to have a game plan (and a time frame) for how you’re going to leverage your current situation to get to where you really want to be and then execute on it! In your 20’s avoid falling into the rat race trap of following money, instead be courageous enough to follow your passion and then watch how money and happiness will follow you.
2) Get uncomfortable with being comfortable
You only truly grow when you’re pushed outside of your comfort zone. If you find yourself getting too comfortable it’s a sign that complacency is starting to set in. If you want to make the most of your life, stay hungry, stay foolish and continually seek the uncomfortable zone (that’s where the magic happens).
Get out of your comfort zone…it’s where the magic happens
3) Live within your means
If you play your cards right, in your 20’s you’ll experience your first taste of five figure pay increases, bonuses, promotions, commissions and a steady salary. For a young person that was just living off ramen noodles and leftover pizza in a tiny college dorm the experience can be overwhelming and disastrous if you’re not properly prepared.
Similar to what happened to me when I got my first credit card at 18. Within days of receiving the shiny new MasterCard in the mail I maxed it out and spent a year digging myself out of that hole. Older and wiser, I vowed to not repeat that mistake but temptation will rear her ugly head.
In your 20’s it’s the allure of having more disposable and steady income that makes it “justifiable” to live beyond your means. For example: Start a new job with a higher salary, time to upgrade the old dependable Toyota to a shiny new BMW. Receive a bonus check, time to splurge on a shopping spree or on a new TV etc…
Before you know it your 20’s have come and gone and you’re welcoming the 30’s with the same lint that you had in your pockets back at 20 with a few sprinkles of student loans added in. Your 20’s are a time of learning and earning but also the ideal time to save and invest. Build a cushion of savings, max out your retirement contributions, build an investment portfolio. By starting now you will maximize what Albert Einstein calls the 8th Wonder of the World: Compound Interest.
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.” – Albert Einstein (click here to tweet this quote)
In your 20’s commit to living below your means, pay yourself first and create a budget that you actually stick to. Don’t spend money you don’t have, on things you don’t need, to impress people who don’t care.
4) Social media is overrated
I’m very grateful for social media for introducing me to new friends and for helping me stay in touch with family across the globe. Although, tweets and Facebook status updates are nice, it won’t ever replace the feeling of having a loved one in your arms, or shaking the warm hand of a new person you meet. People first, technology second! Stop staring at your smart phone like a zombie and get busy making real human connections with the people that are right in front of you.
“I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” – Albert Einstein (click here to tweet this quote)
5) Attention is the most valuable gift you can give others
I used to think that time was the most valuable gift that you could give others but my wife made me realize that’s not the case. In my mid 20’s I was coming home to spend “time” with my new wife only to be distracted or checked out. She quickly put me in my place and made me realize that it’s not just about the hours you spend with others but it’s the quality of the time that matters most and specifically the attention that I gave her while we spent time together mattered the most to her.
“The simple act of paying attention can take you a long way.” – Keanu Reeves (click here to tweet this quote)
6) Travel the world now
Your 20’s is the ideal time to travel the world, you typically have more energy, stamina, can tolerate higher levels of risk, and have less obligations to worry about like mortgages, kids and caregiving duties. Additionally, traveling in your 20’s can boost your career by helping you broaden your view of other cultures, countries, and it’s diverse people. Business is becoming more globalized every day so the earlier you get exposed to different parts of the world the better.
Travel the world before 30
7) Don’t rush into marriage
Short marriages suck just ask Kim Kardashian
Marriage is a serious decision and impacts your life significantly (for better or worse) so don’t take it lightly and give it serious thought before deciding to tie the knot. If you do get married in your 20’s don’t quit at the first sign of trouble, understand that marriages aren’t perfect and you’ll have to put in time, effort and make sacrifices for each other. The right life partner will push you to new levels of greatness and light a fire under you when you need it. Marriage is a beautiful thing that I admit I’m still learning a lot about and look forward to the new lessons that it will teach me in my 30’s.
8) Don’t ever stop learning
Learning doesn’t stop once you finish college, that’s just the beginning. College is a great environment to perfect the skill of “how to” learn, how to work well with others and a place where you’ll be exposed to a diverse array of subject areas, learning opportunities and people. But learning doesn’t stop once you leave school because in a fast paced technology driven world, chances are that much of the subject matter you cover in college will be outdated in a decade or so, especially if you’re in a field like computer programming or marketing. In your 20’s commit to making self learning part of your lifestyle. Read books, attend conferences, get certifications and take on additional responsibility at work to get valuable hands on training.
“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” – Jim Rohn (click here to tweet this quote)
9) Forgive and move on
I was raised by a strong, single mother that made lots of sacrifices to give me the best upbringing she could. My dad abandoned my mom and I days after I was born and for almost 30 years I heard nothing from him but that recently changed. My biological dad reached out to me for the first time last year and wanted to apologize for not being part of my life, he admitted to making a huge mistake in abandoning me and although he couldn’t take back what happened he did want a second chance at building a relationship with his son.
As my father looked me in the eye and made his plea many emotions came over me, I thought to myself, why should I forgive this man that wanted nothing to do with me, I thought about all the sacrifices my mother had to make because dad wasn’t around and flashbacks of the resentment and anger that I had towards him came back to me. But instead of focusing on those emotions I opted to look at the courage that it took my dad to admit he was wrong and to seek forgiveness and reconciliation, I also realized that nobody is perfect and that people who make mistakes and admit them, can change for the better. Holding a grudge and anger only makes your heart heavy and cold.
It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody. – Maya Angelou (click here to tweet this quote)
It was at that moment that I chose to forgive my father and to make the effort to start building a relationship with him. It wasn’t easy to do but it is such a powerful place, because it frees you to start a new beginning. That’s us together in the picture below.
Father and son reunited!
10) Making friends is harder as you get older
Calvin is wise beyond his years
Once you’re out of college it gets more difficulty to make friends. The workplace might not be the ideal place to make close friends so instead work on nurturing the friendships that you already have and join volunteer or interest groups that make it easier to meet like-minded people. In my teens it was important to have lots of friends, in my 20’s I realized it’s more important to have real friends.
11) Take care of your health now
One of my biggest mistakes in my 20’s was deprioritizing my health and fitness. I started my 20’s hovering around the 180lb mark with a single digit bodyfat percentage and finished the decade at 220lbs with a bodyfat percentage that I’m way too embarrassed to share in this post. Fortunately, I’m realizing this now rather than later and have started making improvements to get my health back in order. As you get older, health needs to become a top priority.
No matter how busy you get, don’t neglect your diet, your fitness, your mental health and your routine doctor visits or it will come back and haunt you in the next decade.Build the foundation in your 20’s that makes it easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle, if you wait to start building that foundation in your 30’s it will be exponentially more difficult.
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn (click here to tweet this quote)
12) Your best days are ahead of you
No matter what’s happened in your past, realize that your best days are ahead of you. The 20’s were but a single chapter in your story, the best part of your life’s story has yet to be written. When you choose to live life with that optimism you’ll attract happiness, success and blessings beyond your wildest imagination.
Your best days are ahead
So 30’s BRING IT ON! I’m ready for you.
What were some of the most important life lessons you learned in your 20’s? I want to hear them, please leave them in the comments below and if you liked reading this post pay it forward and CLICK HERE TO TWEET IT!