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10 Difficult Lessons Everyone Should Learn In Their Twenties

10 Difficult Lessons Everyone Should Learn In Their Twenties

Your twenties are a difficult time. Having just graduated high school a few years ago, you’d been convinced by society that you were ready to take on the world. However, upon graduating college a few years later you realize you’re no longer the oldest of the young adults; rather you’re the youngest of the old adults. With this realization comes a ton of other life lessons you’ll learn from. Here’s a list of ten difficult lessons.

1. Your worldview is flawed

When you were in college, you probably took a philosophy or ethics class, joined a couple protest groups, and thought you had all the answers to the world’s problems. When you get out into the real world, you’ll find things aren’t as cut and dry as you thought they were. Issues that seemed black and white when you were stuck in the bubble of your college campus actually have myriad grey areas that you never understood until you lived through them. Once you’re dropped into the real world, you’ll immediately realize you don’t know nearly as much as you thought you did.

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2. You won’t always be right

Once you realize you don’t know anything, you’ll have to come to the realization that you won’t always be right. While in your twenties, you should start to see the world in a more objective manner than you had as a young adult. You’ll also realize that “being right” isn’t always the best case scenario. Sometimes it’s better to realize you were wrong and work on whatever issue is at hand, than it is to push forward under the false impression that you’re 100% correct in your assumptions.

3. You should never stop learning

Just because you’ve graduated from a prestigious four-year school doesn’t mean you have the right to stop learning. In today’s ever-evolving world, being a life-long learner is a prerequisite to finding success. Technology has made it easier than ever to continue your education in some way on a daily basis, whether through online courses or workshops, or simply subscribing to newsletters and podcasts. The second you take a break from learning, someone with more ambition will surpass you in knowledge, skills, and marketability.

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4. You’re replaceable at work

Just because you have a job doesn’t mean you’ll always have a job. There won’t be any boo-hoo pity-party for you if you mess up big enough that your company can’t afford to keep you. It’s an unfortunate truth that job security is no longer a guarantee. You might even find yourself being replaced by a machine at some point in your lifetime. This is why you should continue learning and adapting to the world around you. Staying current in your skills is essential in order to make yourself as irreplaceable as possible.

5. No one owes you anything

Like I said, your sob story won’t get you anywhere in this world. Just because “it’s always been your dream” to work somewhere doesn’t mean that company will hire you. Even if you’ve graduated from an Ivy League school, you can’t just assume you’ll walk across the stage and step into a cushy career. Your degree simply shows that you have the drive and ability to work up the ladder from the bottom — which is exactly where you’ll start out. Being hired anywhere is a great opportunity. Don’t overlook an entry-level position because you think you deserve more.

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6. Relationships are difficult

This lesson applies to friendships and romantic relationships. As you grow older, you’ll find it harder and harder to get together with friends you’ve had over the years. Although technology has made communicating with friends easier than ever, our busy world has made it harder and harder to get a bunch of your friends in the same room at the same time. Forging a romantic relationship is incredibly difficult as well. On top of all the hard work you’ll be doing to stay afloat in your own life, you’ll also need to put extra effort into making sure your relationship doesn’t get into a rut and end prematurely. Keep it fresh, no matter how hard you have to work at it.

7. Your decisions have ramifications

When you were young, you could afford to be pretty reckless without having to really pay for your actions. As an adult, every decision you make will either contribute to building you up or breaking you down. Even something as innocuous as scrolling through Facebook for an hour throughout your day means you’ve wasted five to seven hours of your week that you’ll never get back. On the other hand, using every minute of your spare time to read and improve your life will put you ahead of those who take frequent breaks.

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8. Money is hard to earn

When you were younger and either lived at home or lived off college loans, money wasn’t really an issue. Even paying simple credit card and cell phone bills didn’t absolutely drain your bank account. You were actually free to use most of your earnings as you pleased. However, the second you’re thrown into the real world, this all goes away. You’ll realize the value of every penny you earn the first time you shop for your own groceries using your own money. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. You’ll also realize that money isn’t everything. Most importantly, you’ll realize that you can be just as happy without money as you were with it.

9. You don’t have forever to do what you want

Your twenties are an odd time. You’re just starting out in the real world, and still trying to “find yourself.” However, you also have bills to pay, so you’ll take any job you can if you haven’t found the dream job you love. That said, you shouldn’t let yourself become stagnant and stuck in a job you dislike, because the longer you’re there, the less likely it is you’ll be able to get out of it later in life. While it’s never too late to learn a new trade, every passing day puts you at less of an advantage. Get moving on your dreams as soon as possible, because one day it actually will be too late.

10. Life never gets easier

Growing up, you probably watched your parents go through every day like finely-tuned machines that never stopped moving. You never really thought twice about it. You might have figured that they were just used to the daily grind, and were just coasting along. As you grow older, you’ll realize that notion couldn’t be farther from the truth. You’ll realize you have to put your all into every single day you live, and go to bed exhausted day in, day out. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just means every day is a chance to do better than you did the day before. Lessons like this frame your life in a different context. Most importantly, you’ll realize you have even more respect for your hard-working parents than you did in your twenties.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm6.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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