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20 Things Every Woman in Their 20’s Should Do

20 Things Every Woman in Their 20’s Should Do

The 20’s are a time to make mistakes, learn, love, have fun, and adventure. They are a time to thrive to for us to get to know ourselves. They are a mess, but the mess is so beautiful. Nothing will ruin your 20’s more than thinking you should have your life together already.

1. Make out with a beautiful asshole.

Beautiful people are fun to make out with. Assholes are not fun to date. Have fun, and be done.

2. Travel alone.

You don’t have to fly out of the country for this one. You know that city you have always wanted to explore? Buy a plane ticket or hop in your car and go check it out! Go stay in a cabin and take a solitude weekend. Spend time getting to know yourself. See what you like to do when the only agenda that you have to be concerned with is your own.

What gets you excited? Notice how you feel throughout the day when you get to make all the decisions. Take what you learn and apply it to your every day life. Do more of what makes you happy, and less of what does not. Big bonus: The confidence you get from being independent and doing things alone is huge.

3. Get a nice set of PJs.

Why? Because you deserve it. Take care of yourself. Lounge around and look cute- just for you.

4. Ask your crush out.

Let’s be real. If you are in your 20’s and reading this you know by now that men are not the chivalrous, confident princes that Disney makes them out to be. We are living in an incredible time where gender roles are changing. Take your love life into your own hands— don’t wait around for a guy to ask you out because he probably wont. Don’t be afraid to make the first move because you are smart, strong, funny, and beautiful!

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5. Go commando for a day.

You will find yourself smiling all day long because you have a little secret that no one else knows.

6. Say “I love you” first.

They are three words that carry a lot of vulnerability. Saying I love you and meaning it opens up doors to go deeper into a relationship. This doesn’t apply to just romantic relationships, but to friendships too. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and see the magic that comes from that beautiful space you create. Say “I love you,” and say it a lot.

7. Quit your job.

Stop doing something that makes you miserable just for money.

8. Cultivate creativity.

Sign up for a pottery class. Do a paint and sip night. Practice hand-lettering. Cut out your coupons and go to the craft store to start a new project. Re-arrange your apartment. Paint your walls. Pick flowers. Sketch on a napkin. Left brain is logic, right is creativity. Get out of your left brain and into your right brain.

9. Journal.

Journal because you need to figure it out. Journal because you want to remember. Journal because you think you have a lot to say (you do!). Journal because you are funny. Journal because you have dreams. Journal because it is good for you.

According to an article in the Huffington Post, journaling can help raise your IQ, evoke mindfulness, help achieve goals, boost memory and comprehension, expand your emotional intelligence, improve communication, strengthen self discipline, spark creativity, foster healing, and build self confidence.

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10. Drink water.

You cannot argue with this one. Get a water bottle and make that water bottle your best friend. Water flushes out the system, helps you feel energized, plays a role in maintaining a healthy weight, is good for your skin, and it helps your body function. Water makes your body feel good and work to its fullest potential.

11. Make time for self-love.

Sometimes we get caught up trying to save the world. Saving the world begins with taking care of yourself. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone spent an hour everyday loving themselves.

12. Spend time volunteering.

Through volunteering you are exposed to new experiences and different demographics you may not have encountered otherwise. You don’t have to fly to Africa, just go to your nearest food bank or volunteer at your local library. Ask yourself what you can give to the world and then give it.

“Happiness is not having a lot. Happiness is giving a lot.” – Buddha

13. Get off social media.

Get off social media for a week and see how much more connected you feel with the real world, not the world you see happening through a screen. 

14. Get out in the woods.

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” – John Muir

We often associate the woods with quiet, but there are still a lot of sounds- birds, animals, water, and insects. What happens is that when we are in the woods our minds become quieter.

15. Make peace with your body.

And I said to my body- softly- ‘I want to be your friend.’ it took a long breath, and replied ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this.” – Nayyiah Waheed

The body is not an extension of the mind to be configured how you think it should look. Your body and mind are not separate. You are one unique, beautiful being. Your body is what carries you where you go, it is home to a life, be gentle with it.

16. Don’t spend money for a week.

Spend a Saturday splurging out at the grocery store, filling your car up with gas, paying bills and getting a little treat (of course!). Then Sunday to Sunday you save. It feels so good: one week of saving will make you aware of your spending habits and help you realize all the amazing free stuff in your life.

17. Forgive.

In the words of the amazing role model and feminist leader Cheryl Strayed: “You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of years. Most of those things will have to do with forgiveness.” Forgiveness isn’t always the clean mess free process we want it to be. It is messy. It is hard. Forgiveness takes time. Forgiveness means not sweeping something under the rug, rather taking the hurt and pain and working with it and getting messy and dirty and then let it go, sweeping it out the door.

18. Go skinny dipping.

Why? Just for fun! And in the words of Ernest Hemingway, “When you stop doing things for fun you might as well be dead.”

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19. Ditch the meal plan.

Gluten free? Dairy-free? Yo-yo dieting? No amount of carrots of celery is going to satisfy you when you just want a piece of chocolate. Eat the piece of chocolate- just don’t eat so much that your stomach hurts. Eat what makes you feel good. Enjoy your food.

20. Go with it.

Sometimes we make a choice and it ends up being an amazing adventure and sometimes it ends up being a big mistake. Just remember – maybe you are face-palming but you are not face-planting. Mistakes happen and often they lead to the most amazing self-discovery and a path you did not even know existed.

Take a second to think: where you would be if everything you ever wanted had turned out exactly right? Everything is constantly changing — go with it. Listen to your gut – research says that women have stronger instincts than men – own that!

Featured photo credit: Favim via Favim.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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