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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 April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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