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12 Life Lessons My 20s Have Taught Me That Everyone Should Know

12 Life Lessons My 20s Have Taught Me That Everyone Should Know

In 1989, I turned 20 years old and graduated from college the following year. The decade would see me make some bad decisions – eloping with my ex-husband – but also a bunch of great choices that all made me who I am today.

Here’s hoping my mistakes and successes and life lessons learned along the way can help you, too:

1. Always pursue your passion but don’t quit your day job unless you’re sure

Although much of my professional career after graduation was built in the financial arena of corporate America, I never let go of my love of writing. After work and on weekends – or let’s be honest, many times during my day jobs – I’d make time to steal away and write. Whatever your talent, doggedly go after it, even while you’re doing other things to pay the bills.

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2. Prevent overindulgences: Giving up the ganja

Too much of anything doesn’t bode well. I learned that lesson from too much shopping, weed smoking and not enough bill paying – so I had to temper myself and become more responsible throughout my 20s. You can still have fun doing the things you like but make sure the mortgage is taken care of first.

3. Revel in looking good

Okay, I was pretty hot in my 20s. For one thing, make sure you enjoy the days of few wrinkles and no age spots.

4. Express yourself in the way that’s best for you

No longer a teen, I learned that my opinion mattered, but that I preferred to do it in writing lots of times without having to look people in the face and watch their reactions. Whatever way feel most comfortable  to you is your way to get out the feelings inside. Make sure to get them out.

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5. Get stuff done while you don’t have kids

During my 20s, I had no kids, so I was able to devote lots of time to work but part of me wishes I would’ve pursued a writing career more fervently when I had no one to really think about but myself.

6. “Prayer works.”

It’s something my grandmother used to tell me, and believe you me, by the time I turned 30 and experienced serious losses in my life, I knew her statement was true for helping me survive them.

7. It’s okay to forgive yourself

I was almost just berating myself for not accomplishing more in my 20s. That’s when I told myself to stop it – and that forgiveness is key. When you know better, you do better, as the popular saying goes.

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8. Look at the positive

It would be easy to list hundreds of mistakes I’ve made in the decade of my 20s or beyond – but it’s better to always look at the bright side of life. Instead of stewing over not graduating college as a 20-year-old like I wanted, I can congratulate myself for getting a degree in five years instead of not at all.

9. Follow the direction of love

After being in a bad marriage for about three years in my early 20s, it dawned on me that people cannot change one another or force each other to change. Therefore, I escaped that abusive situation and realized that being in a more positive environment isn’t corny or boring – it’s love, a whole lot better feeling than hate.

10. Give people space and grace

I used to have high expectations that people do what I wanted when I wanted it. Time shows us that others can do things that we don’t expect – and we should give them the freedom to be themselves.

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11. Thank others for letting you be yourself

The freedom in learning to let others do their own thing allowed me to realize that I had that same freedom. No heavy chains or unreasonable boundaries placed upon other folks gave me the revelation that no one else should do the same to me.

12. Hope doesn’t disappoint

Society may have people feel that once you leave your 20s, life is over. I’ve learned that it helps to always remain filled with hope, and to never let your dreams die – no matter how old you get. Even when I didn’t experience the level of Shonda Rhimes-like success I sought in my 20s, it doesn’t mean I gave up. Instead, I know the day is coming when the words I once heard in my soul will be fulfilled: “It is yours.”

Featured photo credit: Success Phrase Typed On Typewriter The secret of my success business concept typed phrase on a retro typewriter great concept for storytelling business plans presentations or blogs Stock Photo ID: 51280939 Copyright: Stocksolutions via bigstockphoto.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

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