1. Don’t be in such a rush to settle down
In my early 20s I was determined to settle down as soon as possible. I was engaged at 21, bought a house at 22, and by the age of 23 I was working full time, paying a mortgage and raising 3 foster babies. Maybe I would feel differently if I hadn’t found myself right back where I started at the age of 26, but I now wonder why I was in such a rush to have all those things so early in life. If I could do it all over again, I would spent my early 20s single and traveling.
2. Travel as much as you can
Traveling is something that I didn’t do in my early 20s because I was too busy playing house. But I took my first trip overseas when I was 25 and I loved it. I’ve now been on 6 overseas trips and the only regret I have is that I didn’t start traveling sooner. Travel while you still have the time and the energy, and your standards are low enough that you find $3-a-night-backpackers’ appealing.
2. People that are supposed to be older and wiser than you don’t necessarily have all the answers
When you’re young, looking to older people for advice is a good idea, but don’t take everything they say too seriously. I made far too many bad decisions because I took stupid advice from stupid people. Just because someone is older or more successful than you doesn’t mean they have all answers, or they know what is right for you. Listen to people, but trust your own instincts also.
3. Follow your passion and stop worrying about what people think
Bill Gates’ first business was a failure, Steve Jobs was fired from his own company, Albert Einstein was told he would never amount to anything, Steven Kings’ first book was rejected 30 times. The point is, even the most successful people had doubters in their lives. Just keep following your passion. At best you’ll be a huge success, at worst you’ll get to spend your life doing what you love.
4. Avoid debt as much as possible
Yes I know that this is hard, but debt can be your worst enemy. Being debt-free gives you so much more financial freedom and opens up so many more options for you. You can save for something in far less time than it takes to pay off a loan. I know that catching the bus while you save for a car sucks, but paying off a car loan for twice as long sucks too. Learn about compounding interest, and never, ever, ever use credit cards for things aren’t absolutely essential. You’ll thank yourself when you’re older.
5. You are NOT too old for a career change!
When I was 24, I decided I wanted to completely change my career and started studying to become a graphic designer. Many, many people told me I was “too old” to change careers. That’s just nuts. Follow your heart, do what you love. It doesn’t matter if you’ve already spent thousands of dollars studying for something else. That money is gone regardless of what you do with your life, and sticking with a career you don’t love isn’t going to get it back.
6. Ignore the haters
People will bring you down. That’s just an unavoidable fact of life. But the reality is that most of the time they are just reacting to their own insecurities or they’re jealous of you. In my 20s I wasted far too much time worrying about what other girls had to say about me. These days, I looked back at those same girls and I can see them for what they really were – miserable, insecure girls who tried to bring themselves up by bringing others down.
7. Stay out of other people’s drama
Whether it’s a friend, lover or anyone else in your life. You’ve got your own life to live, getting caught up in other people’s drama is not going to help you, and it’s not going to help them either. Offer your support, but don’t let yourself become emotionally invested.
8. If a relationship is meant to be, it won’t be a battle
No relationship is perfect, but if you’re really meant to be with someone, things will just come naturally. In previous relationships, everyday there seemed to be some new issue or problem to deal with, but I just thought that was part of being in a relationship. But now that I’m older and married to a great person, life is just so easy, and I wonder why I used to fight so hard for relationships that clearly weren’t meant to be.
9. You opinions are going to change A LOT as you get older
How you feel about things and what you believe in your early 20s is probably going to change dramatically as you age. You don’t know all the answers, so don’t be so headstrong. Keep an open mind, and don’t dismiss other people’s beliefs or give them a hard time – you might feel the same way in a few years.
10. Learn to cook
I seriously wasted far too much money on crappy food in my late teens and early 20s because I didn’t know how to cook. Teaching myself to cook at the age of 21 was one of the best decisions I ever made. Teaching yourself to cook is easy. The internet is teaming with a virtually limitless amount of recipes, and you can watch cooking demonstrations on Youtube. You first attempts will suck. But you will get better. And you will save a ton of money, know exactly what you’re putting in your body, and potentially impress a love interest.
11. Not getting what you want isn’t the end of the world
From the age of 15, I was adamant that having children was going to be my number one priority. I was going to get married, buy a house, and have at least one child by the age of 20. When I turned 20 and was still childless (not to mention partner-less and house-less), I decided I would have at least one child by the age of 25. When I turned 25 I decided I absolutely had to have a baby before I turned 30. And now, here I am about to turn 30 and still don’t have any children, but I’ve come to accept that things don’t always turn out the way that you want them to, but that’s OK.
12. Be nice to everyone
At best, you’ll make someone’s day, at worst, you can go to sleep that night knowing that you injected some happiness into the world. I don’t care of someone is being a dickhead. Just be nice – you never know what people are secretly going through.
13. Fake it ’til you make it
I know that this advice gets tossed around a lot, but I never listened to it in my 20s, because I really didn’t like the idea of being fake. I wanted to be authentic about who I was. It took the better part of my 20s to realise that it’s not about being in-authentic, it’s not about faking who you are, it’s about faking how confident you are about who are you.
It also took me the better part of my 20s to realise that the people I most admired, who seemed to be the most successful and well-adjusted, were in fact faking it too, and were just as insecure and clueless as I was. Which leads me to my next point…
14. Don’t compare yourself to other people – you never know their whole story
In my 20s I wasted far too much time on jealousy. I though the people around me were doing so much better than I was. But things aren’t always the way that they seem.
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” – Steven Furtick
I got a huge wake up call when I went through a messy break-up at the age of 26. Some of the same people that I’d been so jealous of started to confide in me that their own relationships, and other elements of their lives, weren’t as wonderful as I thought they were. I’d worked so hard to create the illusion that my own relationship and my life was perfect, but it never occurred to me that the other people around me might be doing the same thing.
15. Take a moment each day to focus on the positive
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day struggles of life, but taking a moment each day to focus on the positive things in your life can help to remind you how lucky you are. Personally I have a gratitude jar that I like to add to every day.
16. Forgive yourself for stupid mistakes
You’re going to make a lot of mistakes. It’s an inevitable part of life. Dwelling on them or giving yourself a hard time isn’t going to change anything. So acknowledge what you’ve learnt, forgive yourself, and move on.
17. Regularly do things that scare you a little bit
Take a hula hooping class, sign up for a fun-run, go to a party by yourself. Do anything that will push you out of your comfort zone. It will make a you a more resilient person and you’ll probably end up having lots of fun!
18. Don’t waste time on friendships that don’t have a positive impact on your life
Life is far too short to waste time on toxic friendships. People that constantly inject negativity into your life or try to bring you down are not worth it. There’s plenty of ways to make new friends – join a book club, join a sports team, join an online forum, or hell, just be your own best friend.
19. Start taking care of your body now
Aging has a cumulative affect. You may not notice any ill effects from your crappy lifestyle now, but you will. Stop smoking, cut down on your drinking, eat your veges, exercise regularly and avoid getting sunburnt. You’ll spend the next 80 years of your life thanking yourself.
20. Life is not fair and no one owes you any favours
In my 20s I wasted far too much time believing that if I was a good person the universe would shine down on me and I would be blessed with all that I desired. But guess what? Life is not fair. Crappy things happen all the time and that sucks, but that’s life.
No one owes you any favours. If you want something its up to you to work your butt off to get it, and even then things might not work out the way that you want them to, but hopefully you’ll learn some valuable lessons along the way.