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Don’t Worry: It’s Alright To Feel Lost At 25

Don’t Worry: It’s Alright To Feel Lost At 25

There’s no doubt that a person’s twenties are often some of the most exciting—and most terrifying—years of their life. Finishing college (if attended), entering the workforce, possibly starting a family, or just trying to climb up the corporate ladder are things many people in their twenties are busy doing. However, for some of us, things seem to take a standstill by the age of 25 and we have no earthly idea what we’re supposed to do with ourselves. If you’ve found yourself in this boat in your twenties, don’t worry: it’s alright to feel lost at 25.

I remember the day I graduated high school. I was sure that my identity struggles and career struggles would take care of themselves. My peers and I eagerly went off to college and pursued different paths, but for some reason, I never seemed to find my path as quickly as I thought I would. I changed majors three times, had a slight identity crisis, dealt with some major points of grief, and spent most of my early twenties figuring out what I would finally finish up my college degree with. Throw in some odd jobs, financial aid stresses, family issues, and you’ve got an equation that comes out equal to a seriously lost individual.

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By age 25, I had finally graduated with a degree I was happy with and passionate about: nutrition science. Even though I left college with a mountain of student loan debt, I was certain that I’d find a job and that things would just take care of themselves. Guess what? That didn’t happen. In fact, I spent the next two years looking for a job and feeling incredibly lost in life. Where had things gone wrong? What specific decision led me here?

If you’ve ever found yourself in these shoes or felt lost at some point in your life, don’t worry. Things do finally work themselves out and you’ll see the pieces of life start to come together within a few years. To help you get there much quicker than I did, here are a few tips I’d suggest anyone follow.

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1. Don’t Let Your Major and Possible Job (Current or Future) Define You

Many times in our twenties, we have to work jobs that might not be what we set out to do with our lives. That’s okay. Don’t worry about your job defining who you are. If you feel you need to make a change, then by all means, do it. Don’t be afraid to go after your dreams, but also don’t worry if you have to work a few crummy jobs to make ends meet. In the meantime, when you’re off work, be sure to explore activities of all kinds that you’re passionate about, no matter how small they may seem. Doing this will often lead you to a career area you might be able to look into at some point. You’ll also be able to deal with life a little bit easier when you are participating in something you’re passionate about.

2. Try Your Best to Let Go of Past Failures

Whether it’s a job, relationship, school program, or anything else that just didn’t go like you planned, try your best to let it go. You can’t take it with you, but you can let it make you stronger and smarter. Don’t let your past define your future, always look ahead and just keep stepping forward. This makes you feel more accomplished and able to approach things that come your way with a new mindset. Failure and regret get you nowhere, but taking one step, day by day in a new direction, does.

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3. Don’t Let Anyone Define Who You Are

It’s very easy to get caught up in relationships with friends, family, and partners during our twenties that end up making us dependent on others for happiness. Do your best not to let this happen. Having a strong sense of self is important for helping you not feel lost in life, and if something was to ever happen to one of these relationships, you’d be stronger for always being yourself. Don’t let others define who you are and what you want to do with your life. Be yourself and always remain true to you—no matter what.

4. Be Smart With Your Finances

This step is often hard for many people in their twenties when jobs can go up and down and debt often starts to pile up. No matter how little money you make, be smart with it. Remember that you don’t need to have the newest of everything, and minimalism is highly underrated. Being smart with your finances will give you an internal confidence and also help you be in a better condition if something unexpected happens in your future. If you don’t make enough money or are already having financial problems, try to find a side job or evaluate your spending right now to see how you can improve things. Look into free budgeting tools online and through mobile apps that can help you with this.

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5. Reach Out to Others

It might also be helpful for you to reach out to others who are older than you and let them act as mentors during this time of confusion and loss. Not many people had their entire lives figured out at 25, so take advice from a variety of people and think about their experiences. This doesn’t mean you have to take all of their advice or repeat their choices, but insight from others can create new perspectives and possibly even new ideas that may lead you towards a better path.

Remember that no one gets an award at age 30 for having a perfect life, so if you’re in your mid-twenties and sweating things, don’t worry: it’s alright to feel lost at 25 or any other age. For more inspiration that may help you get through your twenties a bit easier, consider trying these 20 Things Highly Successful People Do in Their Twenties.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via images.unsplash.com

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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