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10 Invaluable Life Lessons For Every 20-Something

10 Invaluable Life Lessons For Every 20-Something

When you were a kid, you probably imagined what life would be like when you were finally done with school, living on your own, and earning your own money. Chances are you imagine it being a bit more fun than the reality — what’s with all of these bills that keep coming in, anyway?

The truth is, your 20s are often touted as the best time of your life, but quite a few people would take exception to that. Trying to figure out your career, money, relationships, and all of the other things that come with adulthood is enough to make you want to crawl back into your childhood bed and pull the covers over your head. The good news is that you will get through it, though, and if you keep a few pieces of advice in mind, your 20s actually can be the best time of your life. Really.

1. Take Your Career Seriously

“I’m keeping my options open.” How many times have you heard that? Or are you saying it yourself, as you bounce from job to job — or taking low-paying gigs — while you look for the next perfect opportunity? While on the one hand, your 20s is the time to try new things and figure out what you want to do when you “grow up,” it’s also when you’re building the foundation for your career going forward.

Author Meg Jay notes that your 20s are a defining period, since about 70 percent of wage growth happens in the first 10 years of your career. Now is the time to get serious and find the best job that you can. It also means putting in the time to expand your career options; for example, if you’ve decided on a career in nursing, now is the time to get that advanced degree to increase your earning power going forward and your attractiveness to employers.

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2. Your Relationships Will Change — And That’s Okay

Your life and priorities are changing — and so are your friends. People are focusing on their careers, getting married, and (gasp!) having babies. As you move through your 20s, relationships will change, and you’ll probably see your circle of friends shrink. The good news, though, is that the friends you stay closest to are usually really great friends.

Writer Katie Racine calls this the “natural exodus” of friendship in your 20s, and it happens to everyone. So keep in touch with your old friends, but be open to new relationships — ones that don’t revolve around late-night keg parties and final exams.

3. Your Health Is Important — Guard It

It’s easy to think you’re invincible when you’re in your 20s. Many of the health issues that plague older people haven’t taken hold yet — late nights out don’t require several days to recover. But what you do now can prevent serious issues down the road. Not to mention, now that you’re responsible for paying for your own health care, you want to keep those costs down. That means doing your best to eat a healthy diet, making exercise a part of your life, and getting to know your doctor.

The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that 20-somethings see a doctor to get baseline measurements of their health to both identify potential problems in the future, and build a relationship with him or her, so you can feel comfortable getting help when you need it later.

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4. Save for Retirement

When your salary isn’t that high, the idea of saving money for 50 years from now might feel low on the priority list. Even just 5 percent of your salary feels like a big chunk of change — one that could be spent on a better apartment or car. But consider this: Starting at age 23, even if you put as little as $60 per pay period into a 401(k), by the time you retire at age 65, you could have more than $350,000.

That’s not even considering an employer match, which is essentially free money. If you start putting money away from your first paycheck, you won’t miss it, so just do it. When you’re living a life of leisure when you are 70, you’ll thank your 23-year-old self.

5. Be Confident and Audacious

When everything seems to be changing, it’s easy to second-guess yourself. Yes, the decisions you make now are important — and some even form the foundation of the rest of your life. But very few mistakes you’ll make now can’t be undone, and as the saying goes, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.

So be confident, and even a little bit audacious, in your decisions and actions. If something doesn’t work out, or you’re criticized, it doesn’t mean the end of the world. Learn from the experience and move forward.

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6. Learn to Accept Rejection

Speaking of learning experiences, rejection sucks. Whether it’s the “thanks, but no thanks” from your dream job, or the “It’s not you, it’s me,” from a date, being rejected stings. It can shake your confidence and make you think, “What’s wrong with me?”

According to author Ellen Goodlett, though, rejection is a good thing. She believes that we should use rejection as a chance to learn — maybe that lost job opportunity is a sign to brush up on certain skills? — and as motivation to keep looking for the right fit. Rejection isn’t always entirely about you, and when you maintain your positive attitude and don’t dwell, you’ll bounce back.

7. Ask for Help When You Need It

Being confident is one thing — being arrogant is something else entirely. Know what you don’t know, and ask for help when you need it. This doesn’t mean hitting up mom and dad for cash every time you run a little low, but getting advice from people who have been in your shoes and who can help you make good decisions.

A financial advisor isn’t just for people with millions in the banks — a good one can help you establish a budget, pay off debt, and plan for retirement. Feeling overwhelmed or depressed? Use your hard-earned health benefits to see a therapist, who can help you feel better.

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8. Live Cheaply Now — You Can Upgrade Later

Now that you have a paycheck, it’s tempting to buy everything you want, but couldn’t afford before. Before you go on a spending spree, though, consider the words of entrepreneur Mark Cuban: “The more you stress over bills, the more difficult it is to focus on your goals. The cheaper you can live, the greater your options.”

If you spend your 20s getting your financial house in order — paying off student loans and credit cards from college, building your retirement fund, getting an emergency fund established — you’ll be in a better position to upgrade your lifestyle later on.

9. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Thanks to social media, it’s easy to think that your friends are all out leading fabulous lives. They all have perfectly lit, Instagrammed images of exotic vacations and gourmet meals, status updates about how #blessed they are, and tweets about great promotions. While you’re toiling away and barely making ends meet, seeing these things can feel discouraging — and lead you to make decisions that have lasting repercussions on your finances and future (see #7).

Studies show that social media can actually have a negative effect on our happiness, particularly because we’re comparing our lives to others and feeling “less than.” Remember that most people only share the best parts of themselves and the coolest things online, and that taking a vacation doesn’t mean their lives are great. Not to mention, there’s a good chance that others are comparing themselves to your great life — so run your own race and don’t let others steal your joy.

10. It’s Okay to Not Have It All Figured Out

Guess what? No one really expects you to have everything all figured out at this point — in fact, many people spend most of their lives working on themselves and trying to reach their goals. So if you don’t have the corner office by 25 and the perfect family Christmas card by 28, it’s okay. Enjoy the ride, try new things, and know that by the time there are 30 candles on your birthday cake, you’ll have a better grip on this thing called “adulthood.”

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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