As I approach my thirtieth birthday, I started thinking about some of the biggest lessons that I’ve had to learn living through my twenties. 2016 has been one of my most challenging of years, but the good kind – both professionally and personally.
Here are ten things that I have learned in my twenties:
10. Take risks
The only way to progress is to take risks. This is the time to experiment as much as possible and find your feet amongst the working class. You will find your passion through new experiences.
9. Learn to budget
Get into the habit of budgeting as soon as you enter the workspace. Even if you are unable to save, learning to keep track of your spending will be one of your most valuable skills as you move closer to full adult status. If you need to take a course in personal finance, then do so. There are great platforms that provide free courses, like EDX. Stay away from unnecessary debt.
8. Refine your professional network
On average, most people will have about five to seven years of work experience when they turn thirty. In this time, seek like-minded people who will help you grow as a professional. Stay connected to this group and share your ideas. Let this be your professional support system. Add a few veterans to your network and ask as many questions as possible. Listen to the mistakes they made and learn from them.
7. Refine your personal network
Throughout your twenties, your friends will be your critics, as well as your motivators. Keep your inner circle small and make sure you find trustworthy people who will have your best interests at heart. This inner circle knows you better than your own family so don’t be shy to ask them for help. You cannot survive on your own.
6. Find a series of hobbies
This does not include the following: drinking, partying, clubbing, et cetera. Find real hobbies that you will be able to do throughout (most) of your life. Learn to play an instrument, start fishing, take a carpentry course, try your hand at photography, enhance your skills as a writer and so much more. Hobbies will become your safe space for when you need a distraction from adulting.
If you suck at hobbies, here are some hobbies for you to try:
If you don’t have enough money to fund your hobby, here are 100 cheap hobbies.
5. Find a mentor
Choose someone who will always be as objective as possible. Yes, as much as I love consulting my parents for their opinions on life matters, as parents they are programmed to protect my feelings. A mentor understands their role in your life and will know that they need to be as honest as possible, even if it hurts. Embrace constructive criticism – demand it, even. This will toughen you up. Trust me, you will need it.
Read. Just read. No seriously, read. Articles, books, White Papers. Whatever. If you think that it will enhance your life, then take some time out to read it. It wouldn’t hurt to learn how to speed read as well if you feel like you don’t have enough time throughout the day to read long pieces of content.
3. Make alone time a priority
Prioritise time in your day to reflect on your life. If you can enjoy being alone then you will never be lonely. Use this time to solve problems that have been on your mind, process your day, unwind and detach from the office.
2. Keep a clean ‘rep’
It’s the first piece of advice I received from a friend when I landed my first job. Have fun and enjoy life but be smart about it. If you’re going to be reckless it’s important to choose the time and place.
Also, don’t burn your bridges because this is a small world, which makes each industry even smaller.
1. Don’t take life too seriously
It’s so easy to get caught up chasing all things exciting in the world. Don’t spend your life running after everything that catches your eye, because there will always some new and exciting ‘thing’. Choose what works for you, enjoy it and don’t get derailed by what everyone else is doing or achieving. It’s okay to spend a weekend on the couch watching a whole season of Mad Men. If that’s what you feel that you need then give yourself that.
One thing for sure is that there will be challenges, no matter how hard you try to make things work, but if you can prepare yourself for what lies ahead you will be able be better adapt to your conditions as you approach your thirties.